Armed Ambiguity is a fascinating examination of the tropes of the woman warrior constructed by print culture—including press reports, novels, dramatic works, and lyrical texts—during the decades-long conflict in Europe around 1800.
In it, Julie Koser sheds new light on how women’s bodies became a battleground for competing social, cultural, and political agendas in one of the most pivotal periods of modern history. She traces the women warriors in this work as reflections of the social and political climate in German-speaking lands, and she reveals how literary texts and cultural artifacts that highlight women’s armed insurrection perpetuated the false dichotomy of "public" versus "private" spheres along a gendered fault line. Koser illuminates how reactionary visions of "ideal femininity" competed with subversive fantasies of new femininities in the ideological battle being waged over the restructuring of German society.
In Beyond Partition, Deepti Misri shows how 1947 marked the beginning of a history of politicized animosity associated with the differing ideas of "India" held by communities and in regions on one hand, and by the political-military Indian state on the other. Assembling literary, historiographic, performative, and visual representations of gendered violence against men and women, she establishes that cultural expressions do not just follow violence but determine its very contours, and interrogates the gendered scripts underwriting the violence originating in the contested visions of what "India" means.
Ambitious and ranging across disciplines, Beyond Partition offers both an overview of and nuanced new perspectives on the ways caste, identity, and class complicate representations of violence, and how such representations shape our understandings of both violence and of India.
The Offenses Against the Person Act of 1828 opened magistrates' courts to abused working-class wives. Newspapers in turn reported on these proceedings, and in this way the Victorian scrutiny of domestic conduct began. But how did popular fiction treat “private” family violence? Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction traces novelists' engagement with the wife-assault debates in the public press between 1828 and the turn of the century.
Lisa Surridge examines the early works of Charles Dickens and reads Dombey and Son and Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in the context of the intense debates on wife assault and manliness in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Surridge explores George Eliot's Janet's Repentance in light of the parliamentary debates on the 1857 Divorce Act. Marital cruelty trials provide the structure for both Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White and Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right.
Locating the New Woman fiction of Mona Caird and the reassuring detective investigations of Sherlock Holmes in the context of late-Victorian feminism and the great marriage debate in the Daily Telegraph, Surridge illustrates how fin-de-siècle fiction brought male sexual violence and the viability of marriage itself under public scrutiny. Bleak Houses thus demonstrates how Victorian fiction was concerned about the wife-assault debates of the nineteenth century, debates which both constructed and invaded the privacy of the middle-class home.
To attract readers, journalists have long trafficked in the causes of trauma--crime, violence, warfare--as well as psychological profiling of deviance and aberrational personalities. Novelists, in turn, have explored these same subjects in developing their characters and by borrowing from their own traumatic life stories to shape the themes and psychological terrain of their fiction. In this book, Doug Underwood offers a conceptual and historical framework for comprehending the impact of trauma and violence in the careers and the writings of important journalist-literary figures in the United States and British Isles from the early 1700s to today.
Grounded in the latest research in the fields of trauma studies, literary biography, and the history of journalism, this study draws upon the lively and sometimes breathtaking accounts of popular writers such as Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Graham Greene, and Truman Capote, exploring the role that trauma has played in shaping their literary works. Underwood notes that the influence of traumatic experience upon journalistic literature is being reshaped by a number of factors, including news media trends, the advance of the Internet, the changing nature of the journalism profession, the proliferation of psychoactive drugs, and journalists' greater self-awareness of the impact of trauma in their work.
The most extensive scholarly examination of the role that trauma has played in the shaping of our journalistic and literary heritage, Chronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss discusses more than a hundred writers whose works have won them fame, even at the price of their health, their families, and their lives.
The representation of pain and suffering in narrative form is an ongoing ethical issue in contemporary South African literature. Can violence be represented without sensationalistic effects, or, alternatively, without effects that tend to be conservative because they place the reader in a position of superiority over the victim or the perpetrator?
Jolly looks at three primary South African authors—André Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, and J. M. Coetzee—to consider violence in the context of apartheid and colonialism and their inherent patriarchies.
Jolly also discusses the violence attendant upon the act of narration in the broader context of critiques of Kafka, Freud, Hegel, the postcolonial critics Jan Mohamed and Bhabha, and feminists such as Susan Suleiman.
'Culture' and 'violence' have always been regarded as antithetical terms. In The Culture of Violence, Francis Barker takes a different view.
Central to his argument is the contention that, contrary to post-Enlightenment humanist, liberal and conservative thought, 'culture' does not necessarily stand in opposition to political inequality and social injustice, but may be complicit with the oppressive exercise of power.
The book focuses on Shakespearean tragedy and on the historicism and culturalism of much present-day cultural theory. Barker's analysis moves dialectically backwards and forwards between these two moments in order to illuminate aspects of early modern culture, and to critique the ways in which the complicity between culture and violence has been occluded. Rejecting the tendency of both modernism and post-modernism to homogenise historical time, Barker argues for a genuinely new, 'diacritical' understanding of the violence of history.
Cultures of War in Graphic Novels examines the representation of small-scale and often less acknowledged conflicts from around the world and throughout history. The contributors look at an array of graphic novels about conflicts such as the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), the Irish struggle for national independence (1916-1998), the Falkland War (1982), the Bosnian War (1992-1995), the Rwandan genocide (1994), the Israel-Lebanon War (2006), and the War on Terror (2001-). The book explores the multi-layered relation between the graphic novel as a popular medium and war as a pivotal recurring experience in human history. The focus on largely overlooked small-scale conflicts contributes not only to advance our understanding of graphic novels about war and the cultural aspects of war as reflected in graphic novels, but also our sense of the early twenty-first century, in which popular media and limited conflicts have become closely interrelated.
During the 1940s, in response to the charge that his writing was filled with violence, Richard Wright replied that the manner came from the matter, that the “relationship of the American Negro to the American scene [was] essentially violent,” and that he could deny neither the violence he had witnessed nor his own existence as a product of racial violence. Abdul R. JanMohamed provides extraordinary insight into Wright’s position in this first study to explain the fundamental ideological and political functions of the threat of lynching in Wright’s work and thought. JanMohamed argues that Wright’s oeuvre is a systematic and thorough investigation of what he calls the death-bound-subject, the subject who is formed from infancy onward by the imminent threat of death. He shows that with each successive work, Wright delved further into the question of how living under a constant menace of physical violence affected his protagonists and how they might “free” themselves by overcoming their fear of death and redeploying death as the ground for their struggle.
Drawing on psychoanalytic, Marxist, and phenomenological analyses, and on Orlando Patterson’s notion of social death, JanMohamed develops comprehensive, insightful, and original close readings of Wright’s major publications: his short-story collection Uncle Tom’s Children; his novels Native Son, The Outsider, Savage Holiday, and The Long Dream; and his autobiography Black Boy/American Hunger. The Death-Bound-Subject is a stunning reevaluation of the work of a major twentieth-century American writer, but it is also much more. In demonstrating how deeply the threat of death is involved in the formation of black subjectivity, JanMohamed develops a methodology for understanding the presence of the death-bound-subject in African American literature and culture from the earliest slave narratives forward.
Generation X, comprised of people born between 1960 and 1980, is a generation with no Great War or Depression to define it. Dismissed as apathetic slackers and detached losers, Xers have a striking disregard for the causes and isms that defined their Boomer parents. In Disappear Here: Violence after Generation X, Naomi Mandel argues that this characterization of Generation X can be traced back to changing experiences and representations of violence in the late twentieth century.
Examining developments in media, philosophy, literature, and politics in the years Xers were coming of age, Mandel demonstrates that Generation X’s unique attitude toward violence was formed by developments in home media, personal computing, and reality TV. This attitude, Mandel contends, is key to understanding our current world of media ubiquity, online activism, simulated sensation, and jihad. With chapters addressing both fictional and filmic representations of violence, Mandel studies the work of Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, Claire Messud, Jess Walter, and Jonathan Safran Foer. A critical and conceptual tour de force, Disappear Here sets forth a new, and necessary, approach to violence, the real, and real violence for the twenty-first century.
Hostis humani generis, meaning “enemy of humankind,” is the legal basis by which Western societies have defined such criminals as pirates, torturers, or terrorists as beyond the pale of civilization. Sonja Schillings argues that the legal fiction designating certain persons or classes of persons as enemies of all humankind does more than characterize them as inherently hostile: it supplies a narrative basis for legitimating violence in the name of the state. The book draws attention to a century-old narrative pattern that not only underlies the legal category of enemies of the people, but more generally informs interpretations of imperial expansion, protest against structural oppression, and the transformation of institutions as “legitimate” interventions on behalf of civilized society. Schillings traces the Anglo-American interpretive history of the concept, which she sees as crucial to understanding US history, in particular with regard to the frontier, race relations, and the war on terror.
In any age, humans wrestle with apparently inexorable forces. Today, we face the threat of global terrorism. In the aftermath of September 11, few could miss sensing that a great evil was at work in the world. In Flannery O’Connor’s time, the threats came from different sources—World War II, the Cold War, and the Korean conflict—but they were just as real. She, too, lived though a “time of terror.” The first major critical volume on Flannery O’Connor’s work in more than a decade, Flannery O’Connor in the Age of Terrorism explores issues of violence, evil, and terror—themes that were never far from O’Connor’s reach and that seem particularly relevant to our present-day setting.
The fifteen essays collected here offer a wide range of perspectives that explore our changing views of violence in a post-9/11 world and inform our understanding of a writer whose fiction abounds in violence. Written by both established and emerging scholars, the pieces that editors Avis Hewitt and Robert Donahoo have selected offer a compelling and varied picture of this iconic author and her work. Included are comparisons of O’Connor to 1950s writers of noir literature and to the contemporary American novelist Cormac McCarthy; cultural studies that draw on horror comics of the Cold War and on Fordism and the American mythos of the automobile; and pieces that shed new light on O’Connor’s complex religious sensibility and its role in her work.
While continuing to speak fresh truths about her own time, O’Connor’s fiction also resonates deeply with the postmodern sensibilities of audiences increasingly distant from her era—readers absorbed in their own terrors and sense of looming, ineffable threats. This provocative new collection presents O’Connor’s work as a touchstone for understanding where our culture has been and where we are now. With its diverse approaches, Flannery O’Connor in the Age of Terrorism will prove useful not only to scholars and students of literature but to anyone interested in history, popular culture, theology, and reflective writing.
Avis Hewitt has published articles in Flannery O’Connor Review, Christianity and Literature, and Renascence. She is associate professor of English at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.
Robert Donahoo is professor of English at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He has published articles in Flannery O’Connor Review, Literature and Belief, Journal of Contemporary Thought, and Journal of the Short Story in English.
Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890–1930 demonstrates that popular lynching plays were mechanisms through which African American communities survived actual and photographic mob violence. Often available in periodicals, lynching plays were read aloud or acted out by black church members, schoolchildren, and families. Koritha Mitchell shows that African Americans performed and read the scripts in community settings to certify to each other that lynch victims were not the isolated brutes that dominant discourses made them out to be. Instead, the play scripts often described victims as honorable heads of household being torn from model domestic units by white violence.
In closely analyzing the political and spiritual uses of black theatre during the Progressive Era, Mitchell demonstrates that audiences were shown affective ties in black families, a subject often erased in mainstream images of African Americans. Examining lynching plays as archival texts that embody and reflect broad networks of sociocultural activism and exchange in the lives of black Americans, Mitchell finds that audiences were rehearsing and improvising new ways of enduring in the face of widespread racial terrorism. Images of the black soldier, lawyer, mother, and wife helped readers assure each other that they were upstanding individuals who deserved the right to participate in national culture and politics. These powerful community coping efforts helped African Americans band together and withstand the nation's rejection of them as viable citizens.
In The Making of a Terrorist, Jeffrey Champlin examines key figures from three canonical texts from the German-language literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: Goethe’s Gotz von Berlichingen, Schiller’s Die Rauber, and Kleist’s Michael Kohlhaas. Champlin situates these readings within a larger theoretical and historical context, exploring the mechanics, aesthetics, and poetics of terror while explicating the emergence of the terrorist personality in modernity. In engaging and accessible prose, Champlin explores the ethical dimensions of violence and interrogates an ethics of textual violence.
Narrating Narcos presents a probing examination of the prominent role of narcotics trafficking in contemporary Latin American cultural production. In her study, Gabriela Polit Dueñas juxtaposes two infamous narco regions, Culiacán, Mexico, and Medellín, Colombia, to demonstrate the powerful forces of violence, corruption, and avarice and their influence over locally based cultural texts.
Polit Dueñas provides a theoretical basis for her methods, citing the work of Walter Benjamin, Pierre Bourdieu, and other cultural analysts. She supplements this with extensive ethnographic fieldwork, interviewing artists and writers, their confidants, relatives, and others, and documents their responses to the portrayal of narco culture. Polit Dueñas offers close readings of the characters, language, and milieu of popular works of literature and the visual arts and relates their ethical and thematic undercurrents to real life experiences. In both regions, there are few individuals who have not been personally affected by the narcotics trade. Each region has witnessed corrupt state, police, and paramilitary actors in league with drug capos. Both have a legacy of murder.
Polit Dueñas documents how narco culture developed at different times historically in the two regions. In Mexico, drugs have been cultivated and trafficked for over a century, while in Colombia the cocaine trade is a relatively recent development. In Culiacán, characters in narco narratives are often modeled after the serrano (highlander), a romanticized historic figure and sometime thief who nobly defied a corrupt state and its laws. In Medellín, the oft-portrayed sicario (assassin) is a recent creation, an individual recruited by drug lords from poverty stricken shantytowns who would have little economic opportunity otherwise. As Polit Dueñas shows, each character occupies a different place in the psyche of the local populace.
Narrating Narcos offers a unique melding of archival and ground-level research combined with textual analysis. Here, the relationship of writer, subject, and audience becomes clearly evident, and our understanding of the cultural bonds of Latin American drug trafficking is greatly enhanced. As such, this book will be an important resource for students and scholars of Latin American literature, history, culture, and contemporary issues.
Victorian novels, Garrett Stewart argues, hurtle forward in prose as violent as the brutal human existence they chronicle. In Novel Violence, he explains how such language assaults the norms of written expression and how, in doing so, it counteracts the narratives it simultaneously propels.
Immersing himself in the troubling plots of Charles Dickens, Anne Brontë, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy, Stewart uses his brilliant new method of narratography to trace the microplots of language as they unfold syllable by syllable. By pinpointing where these linguistic narratives collide with the stories that give them context, he makes a powerful case for the centrality of verbal conflict to the experience of reading Victorian novels. He also maps his finely wrought argument on the spectrum of influential theories of the novel—including those of Georg Lukács and Ian Watt—and tests it against Edgar Allan Poe’s antinovelistic techniques. In the process, Stewart shifts critical focus toward the grain of narrative and away from more abstract analyses of structure or cultural context, revealing how novels achieve their semantic and psychic effects and unearthing, in prose, something akin to poetry.
Who killed Laius? Most readers assume Oedipus did. At the play’s end, he stands convicted of murdering his father, marrying his mother, and triggering a deadly plague. With selections from a stellar assortment of critics including Walter Burkert, Terry Eagleton, Michel Foucault, René Girard, and Jean-Pierre Vernant, this book reopens the Oedipus case and lets readers judge for themselves. The Greek word for tragedy means “goat song.” Is Oedipus the goat? Helene Peet Foley calls him “the kind of leader a democracy would both love and desire to ostracize.” The Oedipus Casebook readings weigh the evidence against Oedipus, place the play in the context of Greek scapegoat rites, and explore the origins of tragedy in the festival of Dionysus. This unique critical edition includes a new translation of the play by distinguished classics scholar Wm. Blake Tyrrell and the authoritative Greek text established by H. Lloyd-Jones and N. G. Wilson.
Passionate Fictions 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.
"Clarice Lispector is the premiere Latin American woman prose writer of this century," Suzanne Ruta noted in the New York Times Book Review, "but because she is a woman and a Brazilian, she has remained virtually unknown in the United States." Passionate Fictions provides American readers with a critical introduction to this remarkable writer and offers those who already know Lispector's fiction a deeper understanding of its complex workings.
John H. McDowell provides an in-depth study of the Mexican ballad form known as the corrido, a body of poetry that takes violence as its subject. Through interviews with corrido composers and performers, both male and female, and a generous sampling of ballad texts, McDowell reveals a living vernacular tradition that chronicles local and regional rivalries. A detailed case study with broad social and cultural implications, Poetry and Violence is a compelling commentary on violence as human experience and as communicative action.
Focusing on the work of the Argentine authors César Aira, Marcelo Cohen, and Ricardo Piglia, The Polyphonic Machine conducts a close analysis of the interrelations between capitalism and political violence in late twentieth-century Argentina. Taking a long historical view, the book considers the most recent Argentine dictatorship of 1976–1983 together with its antecedents and its after-effects, exploring the transformations in power relations and conceptions of resistance which accompanied the political developments experienced throughout this period. By tracing allusive fragments of Argentine political history and drawing on a range of literary and theoretical sources Geraghty proposes that Aira, Cohen and Piglia propound a common analysis of Argentine politics during the twentieth century and construct a synergetic philosophical critique of capitalism and political violence. The book thus constitutes a radical reappraisal of three of the most important authors in contemporary Argentine literature and contributes to the philosophical and historical understanding of the most recent Argentine military government and their systematic plan of state terrorism.
addresses what William J. Bennett ignores in The Book of Virtues:
How do readers use literature as "equipment for living"?
and postmodernism, Monroe outlines "virtue criticism," an alternative
to current theory. Focusing on works by T. S. Eliot, Vladimir Nabokov,
and Donald Barthelme, he demonstrates that these alienistic texts are
not just filled with belligerence but are also endowed with virtues, such
as trust and the promise of solidarity with the reader. By considering
these vital texts as responses to personal situations and institutional
practices, Monroe brings literature back to the common reader and shows
how it offers functional responses to the dysfunctional situations of
in literary criticism, American culture, and the relationship between
ethics and literature will be fascinated by virtue criticism and this
fresh look at the virtues and vices of alienation.
Chosen as a Choice Magazine's Outstanding Academic Book for 1999.
In the mid-19th century, rhetoric surrounding slavery was permeated by violence. Slavery’s defenders often used brute force to suppress opponents, and even those abolitionists dedicated to pacifism drew upon visions of widespread destruction. Provocative Eloquence recounts how the theater, long an arena for heightened eloquence and physical contest, proved terribly relevant in the lead up to the Civil War. As antislavery speech and open conflict intertwined, the nation became a stage. The book brings together notions of intertextuality and interperformativity to understand how the confluence of oratorical and theatrical practices in the antebellum period reflected the conflict over slavery and deeply influenced the language that barely contained that conflict. The book draws on a wide range of work in performance studies, theater history, black performance theory, oratorical studies, and literature and law to provide a new narrative of the interaction of oratorical, theatrical, and literary histories of the nineteenth-century U.S.
Winner of the 2004 C. Hugh Holman Award from the Society for the Study of Southern Literature.
Seems Like Murder Here offers a revealing new account of the blues tradition. Far from mere laments about lost loves and hard times, the blues emerge in this provocative study as vital responses to spectacle lynchings and the violent realities of African American life in the Jim Crow South. With brilliant interpretations of both classic songs and literary works, from the autobiographies of W. C. Handy, David Honeyboy Edwards, and B. B. King to the poetry of Langston Hughes and the novels of Zora Neale Hurston, Seems Like Murder Here will transform our understanding of the blues and its enduring power.
The Spaces of Violence
James R. Giles University of Alabama Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS374.V58G548 2006 | Dewey Decimal 813.54093552
Probes the interrelationship of violence and space in ten contemporary American novels
In The Spaces of Violence, James R. Giles examines ten contemporary American novels for the unique ways in which they explore violence and space as interrelated phenomena. These texts are Russell Banks’s Affliction, Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark and Child of God, Lewis Nordan’s Wolf Whistle, Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Don DeLillo’s End Zone, Denis Johnson’s Angels, Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer, Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers, and Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. A concluding chapter extends the focus to texts by Jane Smiley, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, and Chuck Palahniuk, who treat the destructive effects of violence on family structures.
When Marsellus in the film PulpFiction asserts, "I'm gonna git medieval on your ass," we know that he is about to bring down a fierce and exacting punishment. Yet is the violence of the Middle Ages that far removed from our modern society? Suspended Animation argues that not only is the stereotype of uncontrolled violence in the Middle Ages historically misleading, the gulf between modern society and the medieval era is not as immense as we might think. In fact, both medievals and moderns live within a social tension of "suspended animation" engendered by images and acts of violence.
Just as in medieval times, Robert Mills argues, it is the threat of violence—not the reality—that continues to structure our lives. To illustrate this "aesthetics of suspense," Mills draws on extensive and disturbing examples from medieval iconography, contemporary philosophy, and even pornography, ranging from the vivid depictions of Hell in Tuscan frescoes to Billie Holiday's famously wrenching song "Strange Fruit". Mills reveals how these uncomfortable images and texts expose a modern self-deception, and he further explores how medieval images evoked a pleasure revealingly close to that found in modern depictions of sexuality. Suspended Animation also makes a fresh contribution to theoretical debates on pre-modern gender and sexuality. Mills's comprehensive analysis demonstrates that—as wartime prisoner abuse incidents at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay have recently indicated—our notions of ourselves as not-medieval (that is, civilized) not only fail to prepare us for modern torture and warfare but also lead us into complicity with self-proclaimed moral and civic leaders.
Whether considering a medieval painting of a Christian martyr or the immense popularity of grotesque historical tourist attractions such as the London Dungeons, Suspended Animation argues that images of death and violence are as pervasive today as they were in the Middle Ages, serving as potent reminders of the link between the modern and the medieval era.
From the country that has added to our vocabulary such colorful terms as "purges," "pogroms," and "gulag," this collection investigates the conspicuous marks of violence in Russian history and culture.
Russians and non-Russians alike have long debated the reasons for this endemic violence. Some have cited Russia's huge size, unforgiving climate, and exposed geographical position as formative in its national character, making invasion easy and order difficult. Others have fixed the blame on cultural and religious traditions that spurred internecine violence or on despotic rulers or unfortunate episodes in the nation's history, such as the Mongol invasion, the rule of Ivan the Terrible, or the "Red Terror" of the revolution. Even in contemporary Russia, the specter of violence continues, from widespread mistreatment of women to racial antagonism, the product of a frustrated nationalism that manifests itself in such phenomena as the wars in Chechnya. Times of Trouble is the first in English to explore the problem of violence in Russia. From a variety of perspectives, essays investigate Russian history as well as depictions of violence in the visual arts and in literature, including the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Isaac Babel, Mikhail Lermontov, and Nina Sadur. From the Mongol invasion to the present day, topics include the gulag, genocide, violence against women, anti-Semitism, and terrorism as a tool of revolution.
In Violence and Grace, Nichole Miller establishes a conceptual link between early modern English drama and twentieth-century political theology, both of which emerge from the experience of political crisis. Miller’s analyses accordingly undertake to retrieve for political theology the relations between gender, sexuality, and the political aesthetics of violence on the early modern stage, addressing the plays of Marlowe, Middleton, and especially Shakespeare. In doing so, she expands our understanding of drama’s continuing theoretical impact.
As war, pestilence, and famine spread through Europe in the Middle Ages, so did reports of miracles, of hopeless victims wondrously saved from disaster. These "rescue miracles," recorded by over one hundred fourteenth-century cults, are the basis of Michael Goodich's account of the miraculous in everyday medieval life.
Rescue miracles offer a wide range of voices rarely heard in medieval history, from women and children to peasants and urban artisans. They tell of salvation not just from the ravages of nature and war, but from the vagaries of a violent society—crime, unfair judicial practices, domestic squabbles, and communal or factional conflict. The stories speak to a collapse of confidence in decaying institutions, from the law to the market to feudal authority. Particularly, the miraculous escapes documented during the Hundred Years' War, the Italian communal wars, and other conflicts are vivid testimony to the end of aristocratic warfare and the growing victimization of noncombatants.
Miracles, Goodich finds, represent the transcendent and unifying force of faith in a time of widespread distress and the hopeless conditions endured by the common people of the Middle Ages. Just as the lives of the saints, once dismissed as church propaganda, have become valuable to historians, so have rescue miracles, as evidence of an underlying medieval mentalite. This work expands our knowledge of that state of mind and the grim conditions that colored and shaped it.
Accounts of rape, murder, mutilation, and torture run like a bloodred thread through modernist literature in the German language. Previous accounts of German literary modernism have linked its fascination with violent destruction either to the militant avant-garde on the left or to fascist modernism on the right. Critics have noted that high modernists depicted violence through its impact on their own victimized protagonists. But by minimizing and ignoring the often disturbing attraction to aggression in the works of Franz Kafka and others, these prevalent readings have filtered out much of the provocative and productive potential of German modernism.
Kai Evers’s Violent Modernists: The Aesthetics of Destruction in Twentieth-Century German Literature develops a new understanding of German modernism that moves beyond the oversimplified dichotomy of an avant-garde prone to aggression on the one hand and a modernism opposed to violence on the other. Analyzing works by Robert Musil, Franz Kafka, Karl Kraus, Walter Benjamin, Elias Canetti, and others, Evers argues that these authors are among the most innovative thinkers on violence and its impact on contemporary concepts of the self, history, and society.
Nazi Germany’s book burnings, its campaign against “degenerate art,” and its persecution of experimental artists pushed the avant garde to the brink of extinction. How the avant-garde came back, finding a new purpose in the wake of the war, is the subject of Visions of Violence.
An extreme faction of aesthetic modernity intent on bulldozing contemporary life, the avant-garde has regularly employed visions of violence in their push for societal and cultural renewal. But in the shadow of unparalleled war and genocide, such aesthetic violence lost its force. This book explores the reconfiguration of the avant-garde in response to the violent transformation of European reality. Citing the emergence of independent avant-garde practitioners in the place of the previous collective, Richard Langston considers six individual exemplars of Germany’s post-fascist avant-garde—works that span the last six decades: painter, writer, and filmmaker Peter Weiss’s appropriation of French surrealism in the fifties; writer Dieter Wellershoff’s coterie of “new realists”; artist Wolf Vostell’s mediation and conflation of the experiences of the Auschwitz trials and the Vietnam War; poet and novelist Dieter Brinkmann’s collages from the seventies; the multimedia displacements of Alexander Kluge; and the performative engagements of dramatists Christoph Schlingensief and Rene Pollesch.
Taking stock of the evolution of Germany’s post-fascist avant-gardes, Langston’s book shows how the movement from Weiss to Pollesch exhibits the problems that both modernity and postmodernity pose for an aesthetic engagement of Germany’s violent past.