Reveals the full range of Kenneth Burke's contribution to the possibility of social change
In Addressing Postmodernity, Barbara Biesecker examines the relationship between rhetoric and social change and the ways human beings transform social relations through the purposeful use of symbols. In discerning the conditions of possibility for social transformation and the role of human beings and rhetoric in it, Biesecker turns to the seminal work of Kenneth Burke.
Through a close reading of Burke's major works, A Grammar of Motives, A Rhetoric of Motives, and The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology, the author addresses the critical topic of the
fragmentation of the contemporary lifeworld revealing postmodernity will have a major impact on Burkeian scholarship and on the rhetorical critique of social relations in general.
Directly confronting the challenges posed by postmodernity to social theorists and critics alike and juxtaposing the work of Burke and Jurgen Habermas, Biesecker argues that a radicalized rereading of Burke's theory of the negative opens the way toward a resolutely rhetorical theory of social change and human agency.
Featuring the work of the most distinguished scholars in the field, this volume assesses the state of Afro-American literary study and projects a vision of that study for the 1990s. "A rich and rewarding collection."—Choice.
"This diverse and inspired collection . . . testifies to the Afro-Am academy's extraordinary vitality."—Voice Literary Supplement
In this collection of essays by seven outstanding American scholars, interests as diverse as feminism, Marxism, deconstruction, and cultural poetics are brought together around a central question: How does the choice of a particular theory after the practice of reading, and how do altered practices of reading in turn call forth more theory?
After the Death of Literature
Richard B. Schwartz Southern Illinois University Press, 1997 Library of Congress PN81.S243 1997 | Dewey Decimal 801.95
Calling Samuel Johnson the greatest literary critic since Aristotle, Richard B. Schwartz assumes the perspective of that quintessential eighteenth-century man of letters to examine the critical and theoretical literary developments that gained momentum in the 1970s and stimulated the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s.
Schwartz speculates that Johnson—who revered hard facts, a wide cultural base, and common sense—would have exhibited scant patience with the heavily academic approaches currently favored in the study of literature. He considers it probable that the combatants in the early struggles of the culture wars are losing energy and that, in the wake of Alvin Kernan’s declaration of the death of literature, new battlegrounds are developing. Ironically admiring the orchestration and staging of battles old and new—"superb" he calls them—he characterizes the entire cultural war as a "battle between straw men, carefully constructed by the combatants to sustain a pattern of polarization that could be exploited to provide continuing professional advancement."
In seven diverse essays, Schwartz calls for both the broad cultural vision and the sanity of a Samuel Johnson from those who make pronouncements about literature. Running through and unifying these essays is the conviction that the cultural elite is clearly detached from life: "Academics, fleeing in horror from anything smacking of the bourgeois, offer us something far worse: bland sameness presented in elitist terms in the name of the poor." Another theme is that the either/or absolutism of many of the combatants is "absurd on its face [and] belies the complexities of art, culture, and humanity."
Like Johnson, Schwartz would terminate the divorce between literature and life, make allies of literature and criticism, and remove poetry from the province of the university and return it to the domain of readers. Texts would carry meaning, embody values, and have a serious impact on life.
"Against Theory," the title essay in this volume, challenges the notion that literary theory has any real work to do, or any results to show. This challenge—issued by Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels in Critical Inquiry (8:4)—strikes some critics as scandalous, others as provocative and productive.
The argument is directed against both sides of the current debates in literary theory, criticizing theoretical "objectivists" like E. D. Hirsch, Jr., on the one hand, and proponents of indeterminacy like Paul de Man on the other. The attack is not just on a particular way of doing theory but on the entire project of literary theory. The challenge is not only to a way of thinking and writing but to a way of making a living.
The resulting controversy has drawn so much attention among literary critics that it has been collected in a single volume so that the debate can be followed from start to finish. This collection includes the essay "Against Theory," seven responses to it, and a rejoinder by Knapp and Michaels (originally published in Critical Inquiry 9:4); in addition, there are two new statements plus a final reply by Knapp and Michaels.
The debate chronicled in this volume raises the most fundamental issues in the theory of meaning and the practice of interpretation. Are Knapp and Michaels confronting literary theory with a new "pragmatic" form of theory? Or are they (as some of their respondents suggest) arguing for a new form of nihilism? "If it is a nihilism," writes editor W. J. T. Mitchell, "it is one that demands an answer, not easy polemical dismissal, one that calls for theory to clarify its claims, not to mystify them and the easy assurance of intellectual fashion and institutional authority." It is the intention of Against Theory to aid in that clarification.
Analogical Thinking argues that sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, a new mode of comprehension arose, supplementing received Enlightenment ideas concerning the nature of understanding and explanation. Focusing on the innovations of structural linguistics and its poststructural legacy, the individualism of Enlightenment knowledge and the collaborations of post-Enlightenment information, and practices of reading and interpretation across the arts and sciences, Analogical Thinking examines the ways in which analogical presentations of similarities respond to the experiences of twentieth-century culture.
The book traces this mode of thinking in linguistics, collaborative intellectual work in the arts and sciences, and interpretations of literary and sacred texts, concluding with a reading of the concept of Enlightenment in a comparison of Descartes and Foucault. The book examines the poststructuralism of Derrida; the collaborations of information theory and modern science as opposed to the individualism of Adam Smith and others, and analogical interpretations of Yeats, Dinesen, the Bible, Dreiser, and Mailer. Its overall aim is to present an interdisciplinary examination of a particular kind of understanding that responds to the experiences of our time.
Ronald Schleifer is Professor of English, University of Oklahoma. His books include Rhetoric and Death: The Language of Modernism and Postmodern Discourse Theory, Criticism and Culture; and Culture and Cognition: The Boundaries of Literary and Scientific Inquiry.
Anti-Apocalypse was first published in 1994. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
As the year 2000 looms, heralding a new millennium, apocalyptic thought abounds-and not merely among religious radicals. In politics, science, philosophy, popular culture, and feminist discourse, apprehensions of the End appear in images of cultural decline and urban chaos, forecasts of the end of history and ecological devastation, and visions of a new age of triumphant technology or a gender-free utopia. There is, Lee Quinby contends, a threatening "regime of truth" prevailing in the United States-and this regime, with its enforcement of absolute truth and morality, imperils democracy. In Anti-Apocalypse, Quinby offers a powerful critique of the millenarian rhetoric that pervades American culture. In doing so, she develops strategies for resisting its tyrannies.
Drawing on feminist and Foucauldian theory, Quinby explores the complex relationship between power, truth, ethics, and apocalypse. She exposes the ramifications of this relationship in areas as diverse as jeanswear magazine advertising, the Human Genome project, contemporary feminism and philosophy, texts by Henry Adams and Zora Neale Hurston, and radical democratic activism. By bringing together such a wide range of topics, Quinby shows how apocalypse weaves its way through a vast network of seemingly unrelated discourses and practices. Tracing the deployment of power through systems of alliance, sexuality, and technology, Quinby reveals how these power relationships produce conflicting modes of subjectivity that create possibilities for resistance. She promotes a variety of critical stances—genealogical feminism, an ethics of the flesh, and "pissed criticism"—as challenges to apocalyptic claims for absolute truth and universal morality. Far-reaching in its implications for social and cultural theory as well as for political activism, Anti-Apocalypse will engage readers across the cultural spectrum and challenge them to confront one of the most subtle and insidious orthodoxies of our day.
Lee Quinby is associate professor of English and American studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of Freedom, Foucault, and the Subject of America (1991) and coeditor (with Irene Diamond) of Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance (1988).
Angel Rama (1926-1983) is a major figure in Latin American literary and cultural studies, but little has been published on his critical work. In this study, José Eduardo González focuses on Rama’s response to and appropriation of European critics like Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Georg Lukács. González argues that Rama realized the inapplicability of many of their theories and descriptions of cultural modernization to Latin America, and thus reworked them to produce his own discourse that challenged prevailing notions of social and cultural modernization.
In this account of how the novel reorients philosophy toward the meaning of existence, Yi-Ping Ong shows that the existentialists discovered a radical way of thinking about the relation between the form of the novel and the nature of self-knowledge, freedom, and the world. At stake are the conditions under which knowledge of existence is possible.
In The Art of Criticism, William Veeder and Susan M. Griffin have brought together for the first time the best of the Master's critical work: the most important of his Prefaces, which R. P. Blackmur has called "the most sustained and I think the most eloquent and original piece of literary criticism in existence"; his studies of Hawthorne, George Eliot, Balzac, Zola, de Maupassant, Turgenev, Sante-Beuve, and Arnold; and his essays on the function of criticism and the future of the novel.
The editors have provided what James himself emphasized in his literary criticism—the text's context. Each selection is framed by an editorial commentary and notes which give its biographical, bibliographical, and critical background and cite other references in James' work to the topic discussed. This framework, along with the editors' introduction, gives the reader a sense of the place of these pieces in the history of criticism.
Art of Darkness is an ambitious attempt to describe the principles governing Gothic literature. Ranging across five centuries of fiction, drama, and verse—including tales as diverse as Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Shelley's Frankenstein, Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Freud's The Mysteries of Enlightenment—Anne Williams proposes three new premises: that Gothic is "poetic," not novelistic, in nature; that there are two parallel Gothic traditions, Male and Female; and that the Gothic and the Romantic represent a single literary tradition.
Building on the psychoanalytic and feminist theory of Julia Kristeva, Williams argues that Gothic conventions such as the haunted castle and the family curse signify the fall of the patriarchal family; Gothic is therefore "poetic" in Kristeva's sense because it reveals those "others" most often identified with the female. Williams identifies distinct Male and Female Gothic traditions: In the Male plot, the protagonist faces a cruel, violent, and supernatural world, without hope of salvation. The Female plot, by contrast, asserts the power of the mind to comprehend a world which, though mysterious, is ultimately sensible. By showing how Coleridge and Keats used both Male and Female Gothic, Williams challenges accepted notions about gender and authorship among the Romantics. Lucidly and gracefully written, Art of Darkness alters our understanding of the Gothic tradition, of Romanticism, and of the relations between gender and genre in literary history.
Artaud and His Doubles
Kimberly Jannarone University of Michigan Press, 2010 Library of Congress PQ2601.R677Z685 2010 | Dewey Decimal 848.91209
Artaud and His Doublesis a radical re-thinking of one of the most influential theater figures of the twentieth century. Placing Artaud's writing within the specific context of European political, theatrical, and intellectual history, the book reveals Artaud's affinities with a disturbing array of anti-intellectual and reactionary writers and artists whose ranks swelled catastrophically between the wars in Western Europe.
Kimberly Jannarone shows that Artaud's work reveals two sets of doubles: one, a body of peculiarly persistent received interpretations from the American experimental theater and French post-structuralist readings of the 1960s; and, two, a darker set of doubles---those of Artaud's contemporaries who, in the tumultuous, alienated, and pessimistic atmosphere enveloping much of Europe after World War I, denounced the degradation of civilization, yearned for cosmic purification, and called for an ecstatic loss of the self. Artaud and His Doubles will generate provocative new discussions about Artaud and fundamentally challenge the way we look at his work and ideas.
At the Borders of Sleep is a unique exploration of the connections between literature and the liminal states between waking and sleeping—from falling asleep and waking up, to drowsiness and insomnia, to states in which sleeping and waking mix. Delving into philosophy as well as literature, Peter Schwenger investigates the threshold between waking and sleeping as an important and productive state between the forced march of rational thought and the oblivion of unconsciousness.
While examining literary representations of the various states between waking and sleeping, At the Borders of Sleep also analyzes how writers and readers alike draw on and enter into these states. To do so Schwenger reads a wide range of authors for whom the borders of sleep are crucial, including Marcel Proust, Stephen King, Paul Valéry, Fernando Pessoa, Franz Kafka, Giorgio de Chirico, Virginia Woolf, Philippe Sollers, and Robert Irwin. Considering drowsiness, insomnia, and waking up, he looks at such subjects as the hypnagogic state, the experience of reading and why it is different from full consciousness, the relationships between insomnia and writing and why insomnia is often a source of creative insight, and the persistence of liminal elements in waking thought. A final chapter focuses on literature that blurs dream and waking life, giving special attention to experimental writing.
Ultimately arguing that, taking place on the edges of consciousness, both the reading and writing of literature are liminal experiences, At the Borders of Sleep suggests new ways to think about the nature of literature and consciousness.