Bakhtin and the Classics
R. Bracht Branham Northwestern University Press, 2001 Library of Congress PA35.B35 2002 | Dewey Decimal 880.09
Mikhail Bakhtin's critical and theoretical experiments have inspired original work in the humanities and social sciences, but Bakhtin and the Classics is the first book to focus on the relationship between Bakhtin and classical studies, the discipline in which Bakhtin himself was trained. Clearly demonstrating the fundamental importance of classical literature in his work, Bakhtin and the Classics expands our understanding of both Bakhtin's thought and the literary and cultural history of antiquity.
The authors, eminent classicists and distinguished critics of Bakhtin, put Bakhtin into dialogue with the classics--and classicists into dialogue with Bakhtin. Each essay offers a critical account of an important aspect of Bakhtin's thought and examines the value of his approach in the context of literary or cultural history. Beginning with an overview of Bakhtin's notion of carnival laughter, perhaps his central critical concept, the volume explores Bakhtin's thought and writing in relation to Homer's epic verse. Catullus's lyric poetry, ancient Roman novels, and Greek philosophy from Aristotle's theory of narrative to the work of Antiphon the Sophist. The results are of interest and importance to Bakhtinians, theorists, and classicists.
Being a Minor Writer
Gail Gilliland University of Iowa Press, 1994 Library of Congress PS3557.I38837Z465 1994 | Dewey Decimal 818.5409
There are countless theoretical arguments that attempt to define “major” and “minor” literatures, but this lively and deeply felt work is one of the first to speak from the authority of the experience of being minor—of being the “minor writer” who, according to the definition of “author” given by Michel Foucault, does not possess a “name.” This book, then, is an impassioned critical and ethical defense of the act of writing for purposes other than critical acclaim.
In the tradition of Horace's
Gilliland uses comments by a broad range of writers, as well as her own experience as a minor woman writer, to consider the basic Horatian questions of purpose, choice of subject matter and genre, diction, characterization, setting, and style. She points out that in the absence of major recognition, the minor writer is continually confronted by the existential question, why do I (still) write? This book offers not only a challenge to existing critical theories but an argument in favor of being—for
The Big Question
David Lehman University of Michigan Press, 1995 Library of Congress PS3562.E428B54 1995 | Dewey Decimal 814.54
David Lehman's second book in the Poets on Poetry series confirms his stature as one of our leading literary figures. He is also a literary critic with a rare ability to elucidate thorny ideas and controversial issues in a way that is both entertaining and instructive.
The Big Question leads off with a major essay explaining and exploring the concept of postmodernism. The next sections include pieces about poetry and fiction, lives and letters, and criticism and controversy.
Other "big questions" addressed include political correctness, the genre of literary biography, academic life and deconstruction. There is a humorous piece on poetry "slams" and the whole "downtown" poetry scene, a feisty op-ed column (on the deconstruction of the Gettysburg Address), a pair of wickedly satirical poems, as well as a group of exceptional book reviews.
The subjects covered range from Philip Larkin to Philip Roth- from the greatest poetry hoax of the twentieth century (which took place in Australia during World War II) to Charles Dickens's unfinished last novel- and from nineteenthth-century American poetry to the political career of Martin Heidegger.
David Lehman is a poet and author of Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man. He is series editor of the celebrated Best American Poetry anthology.
In Black Women, Identity, and Cultural Theory, Kevin Everod Quashie explores the metaphor of the “girlfriend” as a new way of understanding three central concepts of cultural studies: self, memory, and language. He considers how the work of writers such as Toni Morrison, Ama Ata Aidoo, Dionne Brand, photographer Lorna Simpson, and many others, inform debates over the concept of identity. Quashie argues that these authors and artists replace the notion of a stable, singular identity with the concept of the self developing in a process both communal and perpetually fluid, a relationship that functions in much the same way that an adult woman negotiates with her girlfriend(s). He suggests that memory itself is corporeal, a literal body that is crucial to the process of becoming. Quashie also explores the problem language poses for the black woman artist and her commitment to a mastery that neither colonizes nor excludes.
The analysis throughout interacts with schools of thought such as psychoanalysis, postmodernism, and post-colonialism, but ultimately moves beyond these to propose a new cultural aesthetic, one that ultimately aims to center black women and their philosophies.
The Body of Writing: An Erotics of Contemporary American Fiction examines four postmodern texts whose authors play with the material conventions of “the book”: Joseph McElroy’s Plus (1977), Carole Maso’s AVA (1993), Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE (1982), and Steve Tomasula’s VAS (2003). By demonstrating how each of these works calls for an affirmative engagement with literature, Flore Chevaillier explores a centrally important issue in the criticism of contemporary fiction. Critics have claimed that experimental literature, in its disruption of conventional story-telling and language uses, resists literary and social customs. While this account is accurate, it stresses what experimental texts respond to more than what they offer. This book proposes a counter-view to this emphasis on the strictly privative character of innovative fictions by examining experimental works’ positive ideas and affects, as well as readers’ engagement in the formal pleasure of experimentations with image, print, sound, page, orthography, and syntax.
Elaborating an erotics of recent innovative literature implies that we engage in the formal pleasure of its experimentations with signifying techniques and with the materiality of their medium. Such engagement provokes a fusion of the reader’s senses and the textual material, which invites a redefinition of corporeality as a kind of textual practice.
The activist tradition in American literature has long testified to the power of words to change people and the power of people to change the world, yet in recent years many professional humanists have chosen to distract themselves with a postmodern fundamentalism of indeterminacy and instability rather than engage with social and political issues. Throughout her bold and provocative call to action, Elizabeth Ammons argues that the responsibility now facing humanists is urgent: inside and outside academic settings, they need to revive the liberal arts as a progressive cultural force that offers workable ideas and inspiration in the real-world struggle to achieve social and environmental justice. Brave New Words challenges present and future literary scholars and teachers to look beyond mere literary critique toward the concrete issue of social change and how to achieve it. Calling for a profound realignment of thought and spirit in the service of positive social change, Ammons argues for the continued importance of multiculturalism in the twenty-first century despite attacks on the concept from both right and left. Concentrating on activist U.S. writers—from ecocritics to feminists to those dedicated to exposing race and class biases, from Jim Wallis and Cornel West to Winona LaDuke and Paula Moya and many others—she calls for all humanists to link their work to the progressive literature of the last half century, to insist on activism in the service of positive change as part of their mission, and to teach the power of hope and action to their students.
As Ammons clearly demonstrates, much of American literature was written to expose injustice and motivate readers to work for social transformation. She challenges today’s academic humanists to address the issues of hope and purpose by creating a practical activist pedagogy that gives students the knowledge to connect their theoretical learning to the outside world. By relying on the transformative power of literature and replacing nihilism and powerlessness with conviction and faith, the liberal arts can offer practical, useful inspiration to everyone seeking to create a better world.
This volume reassesses the field of Chicana/o literary studies in light of the rise of Latina/o studies, the recovery of a large body of early literature by Mexican Americans, and the “transnational turn” in American studies. The chapters reveal how “Chicano” defines a literary critical sensibility as well as a political one and show how this view can yield new insights about the status of Mexican Americans, the legacies of colonialism, and the ongoing prospects for social justice.
Chicana/o literary representations emerge as significant examples of the local that interrogate globalization’s attempts to erase difference. They also highlight how Chicana/o literary studies’ interests in racial justice and the minority experience have produced important intersections with new disciplines while also retaining a distinctive character. The recalibration of Chicana/o literary studies in light of these shifts raises important methodological and disciplinary questions, which these chapters address as they introduce the new tools required for the study of Chicana/o literature at this critical juncture.