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.
What happens when the cerebral--that is, theories of literature and of affect--encounters the corporeal, the human body? In this study by Jane Thrailkill, what emerges from the convergence is an important vision of late-nineteenth-century American realist literature and the role of emotion and physiology in literary criticism.Affecting Fictions offers a new understanding of American literary realism that draws on neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Thrailkill positions herself against the emotionless interpretations of the New Critics. Taking as her point of departure realist works of medicine, psychology, and literature, she argues that nineteenth-century readers and critics would have taken it for granted that texts engaged both mind and body. Feeling, she writes, is part of interpretation.Examining literary works by Henry James, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thrailkill explores the connections among the aesthetic, emotion, consciousness, and the body in readings that illuminate lesser-known works such as "Elsie Venner" and that resuscitate classics such as "The Yellow Wallpaper."Focusing on pity, fear, nervousness, pleasure, and wonder, Thrailkill makes an important contribution to the growing body of critical work on affect and aesthetics, presenting a case for the indispensability of emotions to the study of fiction.
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.
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.
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).
The Art of Being is a powerful account of how the literary form of the novel reorients philosophy toward the meaning of existence. Yi-Ping Ong shows that for Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Beauvoir, the form of the novel in its classic phase yields the conditions for reconceptualizing the nature of self-knowledge, freedom, and the world. Their discovery gives rise to a radically new poetics of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century realist novel.For the existentialists, a paradox lies at the heart of the novel. As a work of art, the novel exists as a given totality. At the same time, the capacity of the novel to compel belief in the free and independent existence of its characters depends on the absence of any perspective from which their lives may be viewed as a consummated whole. At stake in the poetics of the novel are the conditions under which knowledge of existence is possible. Ong’s reframing of foundational debates in novel theory takes us beyond old dichotomies of mind and world, interiority and totality, and form and mimesis. It illuminates existential dimensions of novelistic realism overlooked by empirical and sociological approaches.Bringing together philosophy, novel theory, and intellectual history with groundbreaking readings of Tolstoy, Eliot, Austen, James, Flaubert, and Zola, The Art of Being reveals how the novel engages in its very form with philosophically rich notions of self-knowledge, freedom, authority, world, and the unfinished character of human life.
Artaud and His Doubles is 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.
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