Described as “all under Heaven,” the Chinese empire might have extended infinitely, covering all worlds and cultures. That ideology might have been convenient for the state, but what did late imperial people really think about the scope and limits of the human community?
Writers of late imperial fiction and drama were, the author argues, deeply engaged with questions about the nature of the Chinese empire and of the human community. Fiction and drama repeatedly pose questions concerning relations both among people and between people and their possessions: What ties individuals together, whether permanently or temporarily? When can ownership be transferred, and when does an object define its owner? What transforms individual families or couples into a society?
Tina Lu traces how these political questions were addressed in fiction through extreme situations: husbands and wives torn apart in periods of political upheaval, families so disrupted that incestuous encounters become inevitable, times so desperate that people have to sell themselves to be eaten.
Dreaming Revolution usefully employs current critical theory to address how the European novel of class revolt was transformed into the American novel of imperial expansion. Bradfield shows that early American romantic fiction—including works by William Godwin, Charles Brockden Brown, James Fenimore Cooper, and Edgar Allan Poe—can and should be considered as part of a genre too often limited to the nineteenth-century European novel. In a spirited discussion of the works from these four authors, Bradfield argues that Americans take the class dynamics of the European psychological novel and apply them to the American landscape, reimagining psychological spaces as geographical ones.
This book traces the emergence of modern American poetry at the turn of the nineteenth century. With a particular focus on four "little magazines"--Poetry, The Masses, Others, and The Seven Arts--John Timberman Newcomb shows how each advanced ambitious agendas combining urban subjects, stylistic experimentation, and progressive social ideals. While subsequent literary history has favored the poets whose work made them distinct--individuals singled out usually on the basis of a novel technique--Newcomb provides a denser, richer view of the history that hundreds of poets made.
Contributors. Michael Cowan, James M. Cox, Susan Gillman, Myra Jehlen, Wilson Carey McWilliams, George E. Marcus, Carolyn Porter, Forrest Robinson, Michael Rogin, John Carlos Rowe, John Schaar, Eric Sundquist
William Scott’s Troublemakers explores how a major change in the nature and forms of working-class power affected novels about U.S. industrial workers in the first half of the twentieth century. With the rise of mechanization and assembly-line labor from the 1890s to the 1930s, these laborers found that they had been transformed into a class of “mass” workers who, since that time, have been seen alternately as powerless, degraded victims or heroic, empowered icons who could rise above their oppression only through the help of representative organizations located outside the workplace.
Analyzing portrayals of workers in such novels as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Ruth McKenney's Industrial Valley, and Jack London’s The Iron Heel, William Scott moves beyond narrow depictions of these laborers to show their ability to resist exploitation through their direct actions—sit-down strikes, sabotage, and other spontaneous acts of rank-and-file “troublemaking” on the job—often carried out independently of union leadership. The novel of the mass industrial worker invites us to rethink our understanding of modern forms of representation through its attempts to imagine and depict workers’ agency in an environment where it appears to be completely suppressed.
Lesjak demonstrates how the ideological work of the literature of the Victorian era, the “golden age of the novel,” revolved around separating the domains of labor and pleasure and emphasizing the latter as the proper realm of literary representation. She reveals how the utopian works of Morris and Wilde grapple with this divide and attempt to imagine new relationships between work and pleasure, relationships that might enable a future in which work is not the antithesis of pleasure. In Working Fictions, Lesjak argues for the contemporary relevance of the “labor novel,” suggesting that within its pages lie resources with which to confront the gulf between work and pleasure that continues to characterize our world today.
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