Literary Criticism

One of contemporary Italy's best-known writers, Dacia Maraini has often been a figure of controversy as author and as cultural critic. Though she is recipient of numerous literary awards, Maraini's work has not received the sustained critical attention commensurable with its stature. Working and creating "dalla parte delle donne" (on the side of women), she had been effectively excluded from the Italian critical canon. The Pleasure of Writing is opened with Maraini's own analysis of women's writing. There follow 14 essays by an international group of Italianists, utilizing a wide spectrum of interpretive perspectives, form semiotics to psychoanalysis, to treat the full range of Maraini's production as novelist, playwright, poet, and filmmaker.
Plotting the Past stands out as a serious work marked by sharp analytical skills and an unusual breadth of subject matter encompassing questions of genre and ideology that are central to present-day critical discourses
Chabot Davis analyzes contemporary texts that bond together two seemingly antithetical sensibilities: the sentimental and the postmodern. Ranging across multiple media and offering a methodological union of textual analysis and reception study, Chabot Davis presents case studies of audience responses. Chabot Davis argues that sentimental postmodernism deepened leftist political engagement by moving audiences to identify emotionally with people across the divisions of gender, sexual identity, race, and ethnicity. This study questions the critical equation of postmodernism with apocalyptic nihilism and political apathy. The book also challenges the assumption that sentimentality and sympathy are inherently conservative and imperialistic.
The central concern of these eight studies and essays is the understanding and critique of culture at the shifty boundaries between the Modem and the Postmodern epochs. The author contends that what needs to be addressed is the very abyss, the "spacetime" between the Modem and the Postmodern worldviews, as well as the tension between aesthetics and ethics, critical discourse and the creative arts, in an effort to rethink multireferential processes of signification. The keystone of the book is Carravetta's notion of Diaphoristics, a theory of interpretation as dialogue. Diaphora, or difference, refers to the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy and signifies the movement between asymmetrical or heterogeneous forms of discourse that have, both historically and speculatively, home the transfer of meaning from one semantic/hermeneutic field to another. The author focuses on the necessary risk and duplicity of criticism and develops nonagonistic models based on figuration and rhetorical dynamics.
Zafra considers legal measures and moral treatises that define the boundaries of sin. Her analysis discusses the lesser evil that the presence of prostitutes represents for society, as well as, the concern for the public good that led to its legal eradication in 1623. Zafra's research demonstrates that the discourse on early modern prostitution present in literary and extra-literary sources informs us of more than the sexual practices allowed to prostitutes, and therefore, is part of a larger discourse on the regulation of women's behavior. She points out that moralists, preachers, legislators, and writers participated in this on-going discourse on prostitution, women, and sex.
The Psyche of Feminism argues that a feminist ethics, in order to be both feminist and ethical, needs to embrace psychoanalysis. After reviewing the relation between feminism and psychoanalysis and arguing for the centrality of psychoanalysis to feminist thought, the study offers an analysis of two attempts by George Sand to reimagine the sexual relationship (Letters to Marcie, Lelia), where the emphasis is on political injustice and the impossibility of women's desires. Moving from rights and desires to the question of pleasures, Peebles then takes up a relatively little-read work by Colette, The Pure and the Impure, in which the narrator suggests that pleasure and its corporeal language hold the key to any understanding of masculinity and femininity. We are then led to the risky question of ""neutrality"" put forward by Nathalie Sarraute ( You Don't Love Yourself ), whose work forces a psychoana­lytic feminism to face the question: what if sexual difference itself is a ruse? Does the notion of a human neutrality condemn us either to a bygone humanism or to psycho­sis? The final chapter of the work synthesizes these analyses, and argues for a fundamental feminist rethinking of the ideal of equality, an ideal that figures significantly—and uneasily—in each of the works this book treats.
Sensing in Sinclair Lewis's life an endless swordplay between romance and realism, Martin Light proposes here a new perspective, that of quixotism, through which to view his novels. The romantic who schools himself on sentimental novels, who sees himself riding forth to conquer, and who finds a world that is more the projection of his illusions than of a sense of reality is called a quixote, according to the author. He sees this quality in Lewis's approach to life, following the fifteen-year apprenticeship during which Lewis wrote sentimental poems and short stories, and his creation of significant quixotic protagonists.
Radical Theatricality argues that our narrow search for extant medieval play scripts depends entirely on a definition of theater far more literary than performative. This literary definition pushes aside some of our best evidence of Spain's medieval performance traditions precisely because this evidence is considered either intangible or "un-dramatic" (that is, monologic). By focusing on the dialogic relationship that inherently exists between performer and spectator in performance -rather than on the kind of literary dialogue between characters traditionally associated with drama- Radical Theatricality diachronically examines the performative poetics of the jongleuresque tradition (broadly defined to encompass such disparate performers as ancient Greek rhapsodes and contemporary Nobel Laureate Dario Fo) and synchronically traces its performative impact on the Spanish theater of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Poets, deeply imbued in the language and conditions of their society, stand forth to produce an utterance that reveals their constant "exposure" and their resourceful adaptiveness. Albert Cook's wide-ranging study characterizes poetry by testing its reach beyond given points or boundaries of expression. Through an insightful analysis of key poets in various Western traditions, Cook demonstrates that the best poetry rises above these conditions by playing them back against themselves with a freedom whose ineffability is the sign of its ultimate lucidity. Beginning with modern poetry, Cook moves backward in time, aiming at the effect of echoes as much as of cumulations. In each movement forward, the intensities are gathered-by Dante, the troubadours, Catullus, or Alcman. This reach forward is also a reach backward: Alcman's fusions in the seventh century B.C.E. remain permanent within the Western tradition and are accessible in the stream of discourse to modern poets who may never have heard of him. In addition to addressing poems in the short compass of epigram, and ballad, The Reach of Poetry discusses the distinctive achievement of certain lyric poets-among them Wordsworth, Rimbaud, Whitman, Donne, the Shakespeare of the Sonnets, Dante, the troubadours, Catullus, Lucretius, Pindar, and such modern poets as Yeats, Stevens, Rilke, Montale, Follain, Lorca, Char, Celan, and Ashbery.
In French literary history Nicolas Boileau (1636-17'1) has enjoyed legendary status as the great codifier of French classicism, the discerning critic who could demolish or elevate several generations of French poets. This view of Boileau's role has lead to an emphasis on his poetics, not his poems, which in turn has generated general disdain for his poetic art. Robert Corum dispels these misconceptions about Boileau by focusing rigorous critical attention on Boileau's first nine Satires and the accompanying "Discours au toy," 11 composed between 1657 and 1668. His reading takes into account a number of factors, including sources, genesis, relation to one another, coherence, and continuity of argument. This examination reveals Boileau to be a gifted poet, not just a talented versifier or a strait-laced mouthpiece for French classical doctrine.
Written in the context of critical dialogues about the war on terror and the global crisis in human rights violations, authors of the collected volume Representing Humanity in an Age of Terror, edited by Sophia A. McClennen and Henry James Morello, ask a series of questions: What definitions of humanity account for the persistence of human rights violations? How do we define terror and how do we understand the ways that terror affects the representation of those that both suffer and profit from it? Why is it that the representation of terror often depends on a distorted (for example, racist, fascist, xenophobic, essentialist, eliminationist) representation of human beings? And, most importantly, can representation, especially forms of art, rescue humanity from the forces of terror or does it run the risk of making it possible?The authors of the volume's articles discuss aspects of terror with regard to human rights events across the globe, but especially in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Their discussion and reflection demonstrate that the need to question continuously and to engage in permanent critique does not contradict the need to seek answers, to advocate social change, and to intervene critically. With contributions by scholars, activists, and artists, the articles collected here offer strategies for intervening critically in debates about the connections between terror and human rights as they are taking place across contemporary society. The work presented in the volume is intended for scholars, as well as undergraduate and graduate students in fields of the humanities and social sciences including political science, sociology, history, literary study, cultural studies, and cultural anthropology.
Retired Dreams explores this tension. Dixon identifies the quest myth, highly displaced, as the underlying narrative model and the shaper of the narrator's thinking. He devotes separate chapters to the function of time, to the rebirth motif, the role of matriarchy and patriarchy, the voyage motif and woman as anima, and symbols and primitivism. Particular attention is given to the role of the major tropes (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony) as devices permitting both the connection and the distancing between the tradition of heroic discourse and the domesticated, unheroic reality of the novel' characters. Through this rhetorical-mythic lens, the book examines many of the factors that have continued to fascinate both general readers and critics - the work's ambiguous plot and characterization its problematic ideology its self-conscious artistry and its cosmic vision
This study examines Hernán Cortés, first as the author of Cartas de relación (1519-1526), and then as the protagonist of Francisco López de Gómara's Historia de la conquista de México (1552). It analyzes how these accounts represent his speech acts, including some of his key speeches; how they allow him to define the conquest in different ways to different audiences; and how they represent him as controlling the speech acts of others, most notably those of Moctezuma.
A recurrent idea in Darrel Abel's criticism of the works of Hawthorne gives this volume its title. The idea of a fallen world and its potential for partial redemption through art and the art of criticism is a theme that weaves in and out of the sixteen essays. The volume as a whole displays an explicit and implicit concern with critical approaches and reflects an awareness of the Activeness of critical resolutions in a world in which boundaries are constantly under challenge, for example, those which divide "textuality" from "contextuality." "This collection of essays explores the problems the practical critic and teacher has had to face in the shifts in taste, assumptions, and methodology in the moves from moral and historical criticism to the "New Criticism," and to the newer linguistic and semiotic criticism
Merrell's specific focus in this interdisciplinary study is the modernism/postmodernism dichotomy and Peirce's precocious realization that the world does not lend itself to the simplistic binarism of modernist thought. In Merrell's examination of postmodern phenomena, the reader is taken through various facets of the cognitive sciences, philosophy of science, mathematics, and literary theory. Throughout this work, Merrell. is scrupulously aware that we are participants within, not detached spectators of, our signs. We understand them while we interact with them, during which process we, and our signs as well, invariably undergo change
Recent decades have witnessed diverse incarnations and bold sequences of Shakespeare on screen and stage. Hollywood films and a century of Asian readings of plays such as Hamlet and Macbeth are now conjoining in cyberspace, making a world of difference to how we experience Shakespeare. Shakespeare in Hollywood, Asia, and Cyberspace shows readers how ideas of Asia operate in Shakespeare performances and how Asian and Anglo-European forms of cultural production combine to transcend the mode of inquiry that focuses on fidelity. The result is a new creativity that finds expression in different cultural and virtual locations, including recent films and MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games). The papers in the volume provide a background for these modern developments, showing the history of how Shakespeare became a signifier against which Asian and Western cultures defined - and continue to define - themselves. Authors in the first part of the collection examine culture and gender in Hollywood Shakespearean film and complement the second part in which the history of Shakespearean readings and stagings in China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, Malaya, Korea, and Hong Kong are discussed. Papers in the third part of the volume analyze the transformation of the idea of Shakespeare in cyberspace, a rapidly expanding world of new rewritings of both Shakespeare and Asia. Together, the three sections of this comparative study demonstrate how Asian cultures and Shakespeare affect each other and how the combination of Asian and Anglo-European modes of representation are determining the future of how we see Shakespeare's plays.
Signs of Science: Literature, Science, and Spanish Modernity since 1868 traces how Spanish culture represented scientific activity from the mid-nineteenth century onward. The book combines the global perspective afforded by historical narrative with detailed rhetorical analyses of images of science in specific literary and scientific texts. As literary criticism it seeks to illuminate similarities and differences in how science and scientists are pictured; as cultural history it follows the course of a centuries-long dialogue about Spain and science.
As J. J. Gittes once remarked, summer colds are the worst. The most I can offer today is a link to an old Slate piece, which I've added to the "Literary" category of my archive. The subject is Wallace Stevens. Re-reading the piece, I asked myself: Is Orangeade that old? It is
In a world of increasing conformity, the modern eccentric can be seen as a contemporary hero and guardian of individualism. This study defines the modern eccentric intwentieth-century French literature and compares the notions of the eccentric in nineteenthand twentieth-century French literature by tracing the eccentric's relationship to time, space, and society. While previous studies have focused on the notion of eccentricity in purely formal terms, The Sunday of Fiction delineates the eccentric as a fully fictional character. This work also completes prior criticism by exploring twentieth-century fictional eccentrics in works by authors such as Raymond Queneau, Jean-Echenoz, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, and Georges Perec, and by filmmakers such as Jacques Tati and Pierre Etaix. Notions of eccentricity since the nineteenth century shift from rather foppish, outlandish representations of aristocratic eccentrics towards a more popular, discreet figure who is uniquely in tune with vanishing spaces of daily life: amusement parks, cafes, grand movie palaces. While the modern world around them is obsessed with speed, technology, and innovation, modern French eccentrics view daily life as a sort of holiday to be savored. In thisway, The Sunday of Fiction details the various means modern eccentrics employ to successfully transform the humdrum into the marvelous, or rather Mondays into Sundays.
A collection of essays studying the short stories of Henry James from 1843 to 1916. As a tribute to their professor, William T. Stafford, Joseph Dewey and Brooke Horrath gathered a contentious lot of essayists who take provocative stands and dare us to re-encounter Henry James.
Philippe Codde provides a comparative cultural analysis of the unprecedented success of the Jewish novel in the postwar United States by situating the process and event in the context of three closely-related American cultural movements: the popularity in the US of French philosophical and literary existentialism, the increasing visibility of the Holocaust in US-American life, and the advent of radical theology. Codde argues that the literary repertoire of the postwar Jewish novel consists of an amalgam of these cultural elements that were making their mark in the political, religious, and philosophical systems of the United States at the time, and that this explains, in part, the Jewish novel’s sweeping success in the American literary system.
Quest for Redemption: Central European Jewish Thought in Joseph Roth's Works by Rares Piloiu fills an important gap in Roth scholarship, placing Roth’s major works of fiction for the first time in the context of a generational interest in religious redemption among the Jewish intellectuals of Central Europe. In it, Piloiu argues that Roth’s challenging, often contradictory and ambivalent literary output is the result of an attempt to recast moral, political, and historical realities of an empirically observable world in a new, religiously transfigured reality through the medium of literature. This diegetic recasting of phenomenological encounters with the real is an expression of Roth’s belief that, since the self and the world are in a continuing state of crisis, issuing from their separation in modernity, a restoration of their unity is necessary to redeem the historical existence of individuals and communities alike. Piloiu notes, however, that Roth’s enterprise in this is not unique to his work, but rather is shared by an entire generation of Central European Jewish intellectuals. This generation, disillusioned by modernity’s excessive secularism, rationalism, and nationalism, sought a radical solution in the revival of mystical religious traditions—above all, in the Judaic idea of messianic redemption. Their use of the Chasidic notion of redemption was highly original in that it striped the notion of its cathected theological content and applied it thus denuded to secular experience of reality. As a result, Roth’s Quest for Redemption is a quest for a salvation of the individual not outside, but within, history.
Theory of Mind is what enables us to “put ourselves in another’s shoes.” It is mindreading, empathy, creative imagination of another’s perspective: in short, it is simultaneously a highly sophisticated ability and a very basic necessity for human communication. Theory of Mind is central to such commercial endeavors as market research and product development, but it is also just as important in maintaining human relations over a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, it is a critical tool in reading and understanding literature, which abounds with characters, situations, and “other people’s shoes.” Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly apparent that reading literature also hones these critical mindreading skills. Theory of Mind and Literature is a collection of nineteen essays by prominent scholars (linguists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers) working in the cutting-edge field of cognitive literary studies, which explores how we use Theory of Mind in reading and understanding literature.   Table of Contents   1: Theory of Mind Now and Then: Evolutionary and Historical Perspectives Theory of Mind and Theory of Minds in Literature by Keith Oatley Social Minds in Little Dorrit by Alan PalmerThe Way We Imagine by Mark TurnerTheory of Mind and Fictions of Embodied Transparency by Lisa Zunshine 2: Mind Reading and Literary Characterization Theory of the Murderous Mind: Understanding the Emotional Intensity of  John Doyle’s Interpretation of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd by Diana CalderazzoDistraction as Liveliness of Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Characterization in Jane Austen by Natalie PhillipsSancho Panza’s Theory of Mind by Howard MancingIs Perceval Autistic?: Theory of Mind in the Conte del Graal by Paula Leverage 3: Theory of Mind and Literary / Linguistic Structure Whose Mind’s Eye? Free Indirect Discourse and the Covert Narrator in Marlene Streeruwitz’s Nachwelt by Jennifer Marston WilliamAttractors, Trajectors, and Agents in Racine’s “Récit de Théramène” by Allen G. WoodThe Importance of Deixis and Attributive Style for the Study of  Theory of Mind: The Example of William Faulkner’s Disturbed Characters by Ineke Bockting 4: Alternate States of Mind Alternative Theory of Mind for Artificial Brains: A Logical Approach to Interpreting Alien Minds by Orley K. MarronReading Phantom Minds: Marie Darrieussecq’s Naissance des fantômes and Ghosts’ Body Language by Mikko KeskinenTheory of Mind and Metamorphoses in Dreams: Jekyll & Hyde, and The Metamorphosis by Richard Schweickert and Zhuangzhuang XiMother/Daughter Mind Reading and Ghostly Intervention in Toni Morrison’s Beloved by Klarina Priborkin 5: Theoretical, Philosophical, Political Approaches Changing Minds: Theory of Mind and Propaganda in Egon Erwin Kisch’s Asien gründlich verändert by Seth KnoxFunctional Brain Imaging and the Problem of Other Minds by Dan Lloyd, Vince Calhoun, Godfrey Pearlson, and Robert AsturHow is it Possible to Have Empathy? Four Models by Fritz BreithauptTheory of Mind and the Conscience in El casamiento engañoso by José Barroso Castro  
In the eighteenth century, a type of novel flourished showing naive outsiders who come to Europe and are amazed at what they see. Foreign travelers first set foot in Europe in the sixteenth century and are memorably present in Montaigne's essay Des Cannibales. The genre was made popular in France by Montesquieu's novel Lettres persanes. Considering the "stranger" as a figure of ambiguity, Sylvie Romanowski explains why the genre was so useful to the Enlightenment. The question of why showing ambiguous stranger is important in that period is addressed in the book's introduction by setting the Enlightenment in the historical context of the seventeenth century. Romanowski then examines Montaigne's Des Cannibales, showing how these first "outsiders" relate to their eighteenth-century successors. She next considers Montesquieu's Lettres persanes in its entirety, studying the voices of the men, the women, and the eunuchs. She also studies other examples of the genre. The author closes with a discussion of the philosophical tension, ongoing in Western thought, between skeptics and those who, refusing skepticism, seek firm foundations for knowledge, this draws connections between the sixteenth century, and our "postmodern" era.
Michel Tournier, member of the Acadimie Goncourt and one of the most influential French writers of the post-Nouveau roman period, stresses the crucial interrelationship that exists between myth and literature. It is the writer's duty, he states, to keep myths alive by continually renewing and transforming them, re-releasing them in an ever changing social context. Written in French, this study considers the Tournier novel as the story of a voyage in a literal and figurative sense. Jonathan Krell uses the term "elementary" to characterize this voyage through the universe of Tournier's imagination, which is dominated by the four primordial element&--earth, water, air, and fire. Building on a foundation of Western culture's rudimentary myths, such as the ogre, twinship, and the Biblical stories of creation and the magi, Tournier performs a radical and disturbing transformation. Professor Krell shows how the transformation is made.