In this volume, Hui Zou analyzes historical, architectural, visual, literary, and philosophical perspectives on the Western-styled garden that formed part of the great Yuanming Yuan complex in Beijing, constructed during the Qing dynasty. Designed and built in the late eighteenth century by Italian and French Jesuits, the garden described in this book was a wonderland of multistoried buildings, fountains, labyrinths, and geometrical hills. It even included an open-air theater. Through detailed examination of historical literature and representations, Zou analyzes the ways in which the Jesuits accommodated their design within the Chinese cultural context. He shows how an especially important element of their approach was the application of a linear perspective—the “line-method”—to create the jing, the Chinese concept of the bounded bright view of a garden scene. Hui Zou’s book demonstrates how Jesuit metaphysics fused with Chinese cosmology and broadens our understanding of cultural and religious encounters in early Chinese modernity. It presents an intriguing reflection on the interaction between Western metaphysics and the poetical tradition of Chinese culture. The volume will be of interest to scholars and students in a variety of fields, including literature, philosophy, architecture, landscape and urban studies, and East-West comparative cultural studies.
Aesthetics of Equilibrium is the first book-length comparative analysis of the theoretical prose by two major Latin American vanguardist contemporaries, Mario de Andrade (Brazil, 1893-1945) and Vicente Huidobro (Chile, 1893-1948). Willis offers a comparative study of two allegorical texts, Huidobro's "Non serviam" and Mario's "Parabola d’A escrava que nao e Isaura."
A dozen Purdue University Jewish faculty members-10 men and 2 women-who were forced to flee their homes in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary during the Holocaust, tell their stories in a series of interviews conducted by Kleine-Ahlbrandt, a history professor at Purdue and the author of The Burden of Victory: France, Britain and the Enforcement of the Versailles Peace, 1919-1925 (1995). Some of the refugees were unable to escape and survived through hiding and subterfuge or endured the camps. The interviewees, some speaking out for the first time after more than half a century, often found it difficult to recall painful experiences. They discussed the problems of growing up Jewish, especially after the enactment of anti-Jewish legislation; the importance of religion, God, and traditions in their lives; and adjusting to life in the U.S., where finding employment was just one of many obstacles. The author complements the interviews with commentary for readers unfamiliar with the history of World War 1.
Walther Leisler Kiep is one of the most independent and influential German post-war politicians. He is also a successful entrepreneur and longtime chairman of Atlantik-Brücke, the influential German-American friendship organization, which he now serves as honorary chairman. In his autobiography, Kiep speaks frankly about a life at the center of power: as an independent politician and treasurer of the governing CDU party from 1970 to 1991, who did not shrink from conflict with party leaders Helmut Kohl and Franz Josef Strauss; as Minister of Finance in Lower Saxony; as a longtime member of the Volkswagen Supervisory board for 21 years; and as an ambassador for German-American relations, and confidant of several US presidents. As well as presenting an inside history of the relationship between Germany and the United States, the book sheds particular light on the struggle for German unification and that country’s complex relationship with the Middle East. "One of Germany’s most distinguished statesmen, Dr. Walther Leisler Kiep has come to personify the commitment of postwar German leaders to close German-American relations. It was a distinct pleasure for me to collaborate with Walther, and I deeply valued his wise counsel. Through his ongoing passionate and persistent contributions as a leading foreign policy voice in Germany and as longtime chairman of Atlantik-Bruecke, Dr. Kiep has played an extraordinary role in building trust and mutual understanding between our two countries. His memoir is an invaluable addition to our understanding of international diplomacy."—Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Co-Chair of the 9/11 Commission, former Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and presently Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University “Kiep is an entertaining storyteller, and he shows a good sense of narrative pace. His memoirs are also of immediate relevance for scholars of international history. Over the past decade, historians have been eager to uncover the activities of ‘transnational,’ nongovernmental actors, as opposed to formal government-to-government relations. From this standpoint, Kiep’s wide-ranging activities as a diplomatic and financial troubleshooter are illuminating,”—William Glenn Gray, Purdue University.
First-person narrative does not always fall under the genre of autobiography. In the centuries before the genre was defined, authors often patterned their personal narratives after prestigious discourses, such as hagiography, historiography, and the literary miscellany.Caballero noble desbaratado: Autobiografía e invención en el siglo XVI: "Noble Knight Disrupted: Autobiography and Invention in the Sixteenth Century analyzes several first-person narratives from Spain and the conditions of their writing and reception. It focuses on the sixteenth-century Libro de la vida y costumbres (Book of Life and Customs) by Alonso Enríquez de Guzmán (1499-1547), the knight of the title. One chapter looks at antecedents to the central work: the late fourteenth-century by Leonor López de Córdoba, who narrates difficult passages of her life; the Brief Summary of the Life and Deeds by Diego García de Paredes, who speaks of duels and battles as an object lesson in honor and courage for his son; and Cautiverio y trabajos Captivity and Travails by Diego Galán, a tale of captivity and flight in Muslim lands that constitutes an early example of fictionalized autobiography. The study also examines the influence of writers like Bartolomé de Torres Naharro, Antonio de Guevara, and Pedro Mexía and the vitality of lyric poetry on both sides of the Atlantic. Although the Biblioteca de Autores Españoles has devoted a volume to Enríquez de Guzmán, there has never been a book-length study dedicated to this author. This book fills that gap and constitutes a valuable contribution to the study of autobiography in Spanish.
The years 1992 and 2000 marked the 500-year anniversary of the arrival of the Spanish and the Portuguese in America and prompted an explosion of rewritings and cinematic renditions of texts and figures from colonial Latin America. Cannibalizing the Colony analyzes a crucial way that Latin American historical films have grappled with the legacy of colonialism. It studies how and why filmmakers in Brazil and Mexico—the countries that have produced most films about the colonial period in Latin America—appropriate and transform colonial narratives of European and indigenous contact into commentaries on national identity. The book looks at how filmmakers attempt to reconfigure history and culture and incorporate it into present-day understandings of the nation. The book additionally considers the motivations and implications for these filmic dialogues with the past and how the directors attempt to control the way that spectators understand the complex and contentious roots of identity in Mexico and Brazil.
The work presented in the volume in fields of the humanities and social sciences is based on 1) the notion of the existence and the "describability" and analysis of a culture (including, e.g., history, literature, society, the arts, etc.) specific of/to the region designated as Central Europe, 2) the relevance of a field designated as Central European Holocaust studies, and 3) the relevance, in the study of culture, of the "comparative" and "contextual" approach designated as "comparative cultural studies." Papers in the volume are by scholars working in Holocaust Studies in Australia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Serbia, the United Kingdom, and the US.
In this English translation and revision of her acclaimed German-language book, Elke Sturm-Trigonakis expands on Goethe's notion of Weltliteratur (1827) to propose that, owing to globalization, literature is undergoing a profound change in process, content, and linguistic practice. Rather than producing texts for a primarily national readership, modern writers can collate diverse cultural, literary, and linguistic traditions to create new modes of expression that she designates as "hybrid texts." The author introduces an innovative framework to analyse these new forms of expression that is based on comparative cultural studies and its methodology of contextual (systemic and empirical) approaches to the study of literature and culture, including the concepts of the macro- and micro-systems of culture and literature. To illustrate her proposition, Sturm-Trigonakis discusses selected literary texts that exhibit characteristics of linguistic and cultural hybridity, the concept of "in-between," and transculturality and thus are located in a space of a "new world literature." Examples include Gastarbeiterliteratur ("migrant literature") by authors such as Chiellino, Shami, and Atabay. The book is important reading for philologists, linguists, sociologists, and other scholars interested in the cultural and linguistic impact of globalization on literature and culture. The German edition of this volume was originally published as Global playing in der Literatur. Ein Versuch über die Neue Weltliteratur (2007) and it has been translated in collaboration with the author by Athanasia Margoni and Maria Kaisar. Contents: Goethe's Weltliteratur and the Career of an Idea; Hybrid Literary Texts and Philological Paradigms; New World Literature and a Systemic Reorganization of Hybrid Fictional Texts; A Survey of Poetic Multilingualism; From One-Word-Interference to Metamultulingualism and Transtextuality; Multilingualism as a Poetic Strategy; Nomadic Biographies in New World Literature; Global Cities and Borderlands as Transnational Spaces; and Global and Local Temporal Layers and the De-placement of National History.
The studies presented in the collected volume Comparative Hungarian Cultural Studies -- edited by Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek and Louise O. Vasvári -- are intended as an addition to scholarship in (comparative) cultural studies. More specifically, the articles represent scholarship about Central and East European culture with special attention to Hungarian culture, literature, cinema, new media, and other areas of cultural expression. On the landscape of scholarship in Central and East Europe (including Hungary), cultural studies has acquired at best spotty interest and studies in the volume aim at forging interest in the field. The volume's articles are in five parts: part one, "History Theory and Methodology of Comparative Hungarian Cultural Studies," include studies on the prehistory of multicultural and multilingual Central Europe, where vernacular literatures were first institutionalized for developing a sense of national identity. Part two, "Comparative Hungarian Cultural Studies and Literature and Culture" is about the re-evaluation of canonical works, as well as Jewish studies which has been explored inadequately in Central European scholarship. Part three, "Comparative Hungarian Cultural Studies and Other Arts," includes articles on race, jazz, operetta, and art, fin-de-siècle architecture, communist-era female fashion, and cinema. In part four, "Comparative Hungarian Cultural Studies and Gender," articles are about aspects of gender and sex(uality) with examples from fin-de-siècle transvestism, current media depictions of heterodox sexualities, and gendered language in the workplace. The volume's last section, part five, "Comparative Hungarian Cultural Studies of Contemporary Hungary," includes articles about post-1989 issues of race and ethnic relations, citizenship and public life, and new media.
Long before Rabelaisian tales of gargantuan gluttony regaled early modern audiences, and centuries before pie-in-the-face gags enlivened vaudeville slapstick, medieval French poets employed food as a powerful device of humor and criticism.Food and laughter, essential elements in human existence, can be used to question the meaning of cultural conventions concerning the body and sexuality, religion, class hierarchies, and gender relations. This book unites the cultural and literary study of representations of food and consumption with theoretical approaches to comedy, humor, and parody in late twelfth- through early-fourteenth-century French fictional verse narratives of epic chanson de geste, theater, Arthurian verse romance, fabliau, and the beast epic of the Roman de Renart. From socially inept epic heroes to hungry knights-errant and mischievous fabliau housewives, out of the ordinary food usage embodies humor. Some knights prefer fighting with roast chicken or bread loaves rather than their swords. Specific foods such as sausages, lard, pears, nuts, or chickens provoked laughter by their mere presence in a scene. Culinary comedy serves as both social satire and literary parody, playing with institutional social conduct and alimentary codes. Its power lies in its ability to disrupt and to reinforce the same conventions it ridicules.
Author of more than thirteen books and several volumes of poetry, screenwriter, and director, Edith Bruck is one of the leading literary voices in Italy, attracting increasing attention in the English-speaking world not least for her powerful Holocaust testimony, which is often compared with the work of her contemporaries Primo Levi and Giorgio Bassani. Born in Hungary in 1932, she was deported with her family to the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, Christianstadt, Landsberg, and Bergen-Belsen, where she lost both her parents and a brother. After the war, she traveled widely until 1954 when she settled in Rome. She has lived there ever since. This important new study is motivated by a desire to better understand and situate Bruck’s art as well as to advance (and, when necessary, to revise) the critical discourse on her considerable and eclectic body of work. As such, it underscores and analyzes the intermedial nature of her contributions to contemporary Italian culture, which should no longer be understood merely in terms of her willingness to revisit the subject of the Holocaust on the printed page or the silver screen. It also includes previously unpublished interviews with the author. The book will be of broad interest to scholars and students of Jewish (especially Holocaust) studies, Italian literature, film studies, women’s studies, and postcolonial culture.“This is the first comprehensive scholarly analysis of the work produced by a main contemporary author of Italian Holocaust literature, focused on Bruck’s overall artistic production (novels, poetry, film, and TV productions). It will offer scholars and students alike a new interpretive perspective and a valuable source of reference for their studies.” Gabriella Romani, Seton Hall University.
Part pastiche and part parody, Enlightening Up Postmodernism brings the techniques, values, and terms of the Enlightenment into collision with the strategies, misgivings, and terminology of postmodernism. Resulting from many years of sustained reading of the tart, rigorous literature of the eighteenth century, and almost as many years of university teaching and committeeing, Enlightening Up Postmodernism was written to vex scholars without a sense of theory and theorists without a sense of humor, while diverting able readers of all persuasions. To that end, Johnson's Life of Foucault, supplies the-somewhat judgmental-biography of Foucault that he would surely have written had he had the opportunity, while Lord Chesterfield's Letters To His Daughter On the Tenure Track converts the courtly advice that Chesterfield inflicted on his illegitimate son into something more academic and more mischievous. This critical and scholarly hybrid allows the wisdom and eloquence of the past to probe some weaknesses, oversights, and distortions in the theoretical work of the present and enables recent work in theory to interrogate some of the short-sightedness, prejudice, evasion, and complacency in the writings of the past. Of the remaining chapters, one reworks some papers from The Spectator into wry commentaries on the postmodern lifestyle. Another, in heroic couplets, converts Pope's Essay on Criticism into An Essay on Theery, and a third turns Swift's ironic Argument Against Abolishing Christianity into one Against Abolishing Higher Education. The last chapter inverts the process, wrenching a postmodern text back three centuries, to wrap Fredric Jameson's (deservedly famous) reading of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel around Vanbrugh's neo-classical Blenheim Palace. A brief bonus provides the reply Lord Chesterfield ought to have written to Samuel Johnson's too familiar, whining letter about his treatment as a lexicographer
Falsehood Disguised analyzes La Rochefoucauld's ideas on truth and falsehood in the context of his views on self-love, on the passions, and on vice and virtue. It also explores his views on the subject in relation to what he sees as the extremely fragile foundations of the social contract.
The Mexican government's brutal repression of the Student Movement of 1968 in the infamous Massacre of Tlatelolco exposed and exacerbated a serious crisis of political legitimacy. This study examines the cultural impact of this watershed event through historically contextualized readings of five paradigmatic novels: Carlos Fuentes's La region mas transparente (1958), Fernando del Paso's Jose Trigo (1966), Maria Luisa Mendoza's Con el, conmigo, con nosotros tres (1971), Jorge Aguilar Mora's Si muero lejos de ti (1979), and Hector Aguilar Camin's Morir en el golfo (1986).
This volume presents a historical-textual study about transformations of the aesthetics of the sublime—the literary and aesthetic quality of greatness under duress—from early English Romanticism to the New Poetry Movement in twentieth-century China. Zheng sets up the former and the latter as distinct but historically analogous moments and argues that both the European Romantic reinvention of the sublime and its later Chinese transformation represent cultural movements built on the excessive and capacious nature of the sublime to counter their shared sense of historical crisis. The author further postulates through a critical analysis of Edmund Burke’s Inquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, William Wordsworth’s Prelude, and Guo Moruo’s experimental poem “Fenghuang Niepan” (“Nirvana of the Phoenix”) and verse drama Qu Yuan that these aesthetic practices of modernity suggest a deliberate historical hyperbolization of literary agency. Such an agency is in turn constructed imaginatively and affectively as a means to redress different cultures’ traumatic encounter with modernity. The volume will be of interest to scholars including graduate students of Romanticism, philosophy, history, English literature, Chinese literature, comparative literature, and (comparative) cultural studies.
Although the boom in historical fiction and historiography about Spain’s recent past has found an eager readership, these texts are rarely studied as two halves of the same story. With Genre Fusion: A New Approach to History, Fiction, and Memory in Contemporary Spain, Sara J. Brenneis argues that fiction and nonfiction written by a single author and focused on the same historical moment deserve to be read side-by-side. By proposing a literary model that examines these genres together, Genre Fusion gives equal importance to fiction and historiography in Spain. In her book, Brenneis develops a new theory of “genre fusion” to show how authors who write both historiography and fiction produce a more accurate representation of the lived experience of Spanish history than would be possible in a single genre. Genre Fusionopens with a straightforward overview of the relationships among history, fiction, and memory in contemporary culture. While providing an up-to-date context for scholarly debates about Spain’s historical memory, Genre Fusion also expands the contours of the discussion beyond the specialized territory of Hispanic studies. To demonstrate the theoretical necessity of genre fusion, Brenneis analyzes pairs of interconnected texts (one a work of literature, the other a work of historiography) written by a single author. She explores how fictional and nonfictional works by Montserrat Roig, Carmen Martín Gaite, Carlos Blanco Aguinaga, and Javier Marías unearth the collective memories of Spain’s past. Through these four authors, Genre Fusion traces the transformation of a country once enveloped in a postwar silence to one currently consumed by its own history and memory. Brenneis demonstrates that, when read through the lens of genre fusion, these Spanish authors shelve the country’s stagnant official record of its past and unlock the collective and personal accounts of the people who constitute Spanish history.
Gombrowicz, Polish Modernism, and the Subversion of Form provides a new and comprehensive account of the writing and thought of the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz. While Gombrowicz is probably the key Polish modernist writer, with a stature in his native Poland equivalent to that of Joyce or Beckett in the English language, he remains little known in English. As well as providing a commentary on his novels, plays, and short stories, this book sets Gombrowicz's writing in the context of contemporary cultural theory. The author performs a detailed examination of Gombrowicz's major literary and theatrical work, showing how his conception of form is highly resonant with contemporary, postmodern theories of identity. This book is the essential companion to one of Eastern Europe's most important literary figures whose work, banned by the Nazis and suppressed by Poland's Communist government, has only recently become well known in the West.
This book offers original research by leading scholars from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Russia, which covers the central areas of Shpet's work on phenomenology, philosophy of language, cultural theory, and aesthetics and takes forward the current state of knowledge and debates on his contribution to these fields of enquiry. The book also contains, for the first time in English translation, the most seminal portions of Shpet's book-length study of hermeneutics, which is his most significant work for contemporary students of cultural theory. The first part of the book maps out Shpet's legacy in the main areas of his multi-faceted work; the second part examines in closer detail particular aspects of Shpet's philosophical affiliations and contributions in the framework of cultural theory, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and in the field of Russian intellectual history; the final part features the publication of extracts from Shpet's 1918 book on hermeneutics.
What does literature reveal about a country’s changing cultural identity? In History, Violence, and the Hyperreal by Kathryn Everly, this question is applied to the contemporary novel in Spain. In the process, similarities emerge among novels that embrace apparent differences in style, structure, and language. Contemporary Spanish authors are rethinking the way the novel with its narrative powers can define a specific cultural identity. Recent Spanish novels by Carme Riera, Dulce Chacon, Javier Cercas, Ray Loriga, Lucia Etxebarria, and Jose Angel Manas (published from 1995 to 2008) particularly highlight the tension that exists between historical memory and urban youth culture. The novels discussed in this study reconfigure the individual’s relationship to narrative, history, and reality through their varied interpretations of Spanish history with its common threads of national and personal violence. In these books, culture acts as mediator between the individual and the rapidly changing dynamic of contemporary society. The authors experiment with the novel form to challenge fundamental concepts of identity when the narrative acknowledges more than one way of reading and understanding history, violence, and reality. In Spain today, questions of historical accuracy in all foundational fictions—such as the Inquisition, the Spanish Civil War, or globalization—collide with the urgency to modernize. The result is a clash between regional and global identities. Seemingly disparate works of historical fiction and Generation X narrative prove similar in the way they deal with history, reality, and the delicate relationship between writer and reader.
Indios en escena engages both the Baroque and Colonial fields of Hispanism in order to reevaluate fourteen major plays of Spanish Golden Age literature from a social-historical perspective. Castillo argues that these plays portray Amerindians not in their “otherness” but as subjects of empire. It is the author’s contention that these dramas reveal the vast contradictions between the two leading ideological trends of the age as performed on the stage: the discourse of honor and the juridical-theological code, both of which attempt to assimilate the Amerindian phenomenon under the auspices of church and state. These works consistently raise the paradoxical question of how a person can be a savage and have honor at the same time. The Amerindian must become a new “subject” for the Spanish Crown (as stated by the discourse of honor in these plays), i.e., an honorable and distinguished Indian capable of lofty speech and courage in battle. Yet, Amerindians are also barbarians or wild “children” (F. de Vitoria, Las Casas) who need the redemptive intervention of the Church to mature (evolve) and to be capable of salvation. These plays reveal the effort to integrate and assimilate the new indigenous entities under the monarcho-seigneurial system while exposing the philosophical contradictions that Baroque ideology has to overcome in order to elicit obedience. Thus, Castillo claims that this theater propagates the concept of the “Amerindian” both as “Honorable Subject,” a theatrical archetype, and idolatrous barbarian “Other,” a model of representation that belongs to the mindset of religious crusades and evangelical enterprises.
The sesquicentennial of the birth of the influential American philosopher and educator John Dewey in 2009 marked an opportunity for members of the society that bears his name to reflect on his legacy. This book contains papers also published in the journal of the John Dewey Society, Education and Culture (Volume 25,2). Contents: Introduction: A. G. Rud, Jim Garrison, and Lynda Stone; Looking Forward from A Common Faith (Nel Noddings); Secularism, Secularization, and John Dewey (Larry A. Hickman); How to Use Pragmatism Pragmatically? Suggestions for the Twenty-First Century (Gert J. J. Biesta); Transforming Schooling through Technology: Twenty-First-Century Approaches to Participatory Learning (Craig A. Cunningham); Dewey’s Aesthetics and Today’s Moral Education (Jiwon Kim); Toward Inclusion and Human Unity: Rethinking Dewey’s Democratic Community (Hongmei Peng); More than “Mere Ideas”: Deweyan Tools for the Contemporary Philosopher (Barbara S. Stengel); Reconstruction in Dewey’s Pragmatism: Home, Neighborhood, and Otherness (Naoko Saito); John Dewey’s Contribution to Pragmatic Cosmopolitanism (Leonard J. Waks); Dewey and Cosmopolitanism (David T. Hansen).
The late J. Kirby Risk II called himself “a small-town businessman from the banks of the Wabash.” He was much more. The fastidious, dapper man from Lafayette, Indiana, exuded philanthropy and free enterprise. Like a sheepdog, he tended the flock, rounded up strays, darted to key places to close up stragglers, and nudged everyone toward a common goal. Sometimes his stubborn persistence caused clashes. His demanding behavior was for good, no matter what others thought. That was Kirby’s way. Kirby’s integrity was the basis for his two occupations. His first career was compassion, and his second career was the building of the battery company he cofounded in 1926 with $500 borrowed from his father. Today, Kirby Risk Corporation is a multimillion-dollar electrical products and services industry headquartered in Lafayette, Indiana, and led by Kirby’s son, Jim. Kirby’s Way captures the essence of this imitable gentleman, who with his wife of fifty-five years, Caroline, raised four children, gave time, money, and meals to strangers, refugees, Purdue University students, and their beloved community, while building from their kitchen table a successful Midwest corporation. He believed in “sacrificial service.” Kirby noticed people. He recognized their importance. In turn, they loved him and wanted to help him. He dwelled on his favorite song, “Mankind is My Business.” Relationships shaped his success. Kirby was quiet about his deeds. He lived the Bible passage, Matthew 6:3—“But when you do a kindness to someone, do it secretly—do not tell your left hand what your right hand is doing.” Kirby Risk may not have wanted this book. Yet he would have esteemed it as a parable, a spiritual truth that compels readers to discover certainties for themselves. From heaven, he tends the flock and rounds up strays, so more people might live Kirby’s Way.
Knights of the Quill offers a unique assessment of war correspondence in Southern newspapers during the American Civil War. The men and women who covered the battles and political developments for Southern newspapers were of a different breed than those who reported the war for the North. They were doctors, lawyers, teachers, editors, and businessmen, nearly all of them with college and professional degrees. Sleeping on beds of snow, dining on raw corn and burned bread, they exhibited a dedication that laid the groundwork for news gathering in the twenty-first century. Objectivity and accuracy became important news values, as shows that Southern war correspondence easily equaled in quality the work produced by reporters for Northern newspapers. With its emphasis on primary sources, the book offers an important and enduring historical perspective on the Civil War and also meets the highest standards of historical scholarship.
In Knowing Subjects, Barbara Simerka uses an emergent field of literary study—cognitive cultural studies—to delineate new ways of looking at early modern Spanish literature and to analyze cognition and social identity in Spain at the time. Simerka analyzes works by Cervantes and Gracían, as well as picaresque novels and comedias. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, she brings together several strands of cognitive theory and details the synergies among neurological, anthropological, and psychological discoveries that provide new insights into human cognition. Her analysis draws on Theory of Mind, the cognitive activity that enables humans to predict what others will do, feel, think, and believe. Theory of Mind looks at how primates, including humans, conceptualize the thoughts and rationales behind other people’s actions and use those insights to negotiate social relationships. This capacity is a necessary precursor to a wide variety of human interactions—both positive and negative—from projecting and empathizing to lying and cheating. Simerka applies this theory to texts involving courtship or social advancement, activities in which deception is most prevalent—and productive. In the process, she uncovers new insights into the comedia (especially the courtship drama) and several other genres of literature (including the honor narrative, the picaresque novel, and the courtesy manual). She studies the construction of gendered identity and patriarchal norms of cognition—contrasting the perspectives of canonical male writers with those of recently recovered female authors such as María de Zayas and Ana Caro. She examines the construction of social class, intellect, and honesty, and in a chapter on Don Quixote, cultural norms for leisure reading at the time. She shows how early modern Spanish literary forms reveal the relationship between an urbanizing culture, unstable subject positions and hierarchies, and social anxieties about cognition and cultural transformation.
While a large amount of scholarship about Milan Kundera's work exists, in Liisa Steinby's opinion his work has not been studied within the context of (European) modernity as a sociohistorical and a cultural concept. Of course, he is considered to be a modernist writer (some call him even a postmodernist), but what the broader concept of modernity intellectually, historically, socially, and culturally means for him and how this is expressed in his texts has not been thoroughly examined. Steinby's book fills this vacuum by analyzing Kundera's novels from the viewpoint of his understanding of the existential problems in the culture of modernity. In addition, his relation to those modernist novelists from the first half of the twentieth century who are most important for him is scrutinized in detail. Steinby’s Kundera and Modernity is intended for students of modernism in literary and (comparative) cultural studies, as well as those interested in European and Central European studies. Key Points: Offers new insights into the work of the popular modern writer Milan Kundera. Expands the reader’s understanding of the meaning of the concept of “modernity.” Widens the literature available in English about Central European culture.