Dramatic changes in the reading public and literary market in early nineteenth-century England not only altered the relationship between poet and reader but prompted new conceptions of the poetic text, literary reception, and authorship. With the decline of patronage, the rise of the novel and the periodical press, and the emergence of the mass reading public, poets could no longer assume the existence of an audience for poetry. Andrew Franta examines how the reconfigurations of the literary market and the publishing context transformed the ways poets conceived of their audience and the forms of poetry itself. Through readings of Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Hemans, and Tennyson, and with close attention to key literary, political, and legal debates, Franta proposes a new reading of Romanticism and its contribution to modern conceptions of politics and publicity.
"Compelling, appealing, cinematic . . . Rekdal refreshes the meaning and the image of being displaced in this world." —The Boston Globe
"Rekdal's work deeply satisfies, for it witnesses and wonders over the necessary struggles of human awareness and being." —Rain Taxi
"In acknowledging the disappointing facts of our existence and singing her way into its amazement, she has created poetry that lives alongside the misery we sometimes witness—and sometimes cause." —Slate
Paisley Rekdal questions how identity and being inhabit metaphorical and personified "vessels," from blown glass and soap bubbles to skulls unearthed at the Colorado State Mental Institution. Whether writing short lyrics or a sonnet sequence celebrating Mae West, Rekdal's intellectually inquisitive and carefully researched poems delight in sound, meter, and head-on engagement. Illustrated with twelve Andrea Modica photographs.
Vague as fog and turnip—hipped, a creel of eels
that slithers in stains. Dirty slate, you're
Diamond Lil. She's you, you say. You're her. She's I. O
Mae, fifth grade, we dressed in feathers and our mothers' slit
pink slips, dipped into your schema and your accent,
aspiring (like you) to be able to order coffee and have it
sound like filth . . .
Paisley Rekdal is the author of four books of poetry, a book of personal essays, and a mixed media book of photography, poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She lives in Salt Lake City and teaches at the University of Utah.
Twisted bodies, deformed faces, aberrant behavior, and abnormal desires characterized
the hideous creatures of classic Hollywood horror, which thrilled audiences with their
sheer grotesqueness. Most critics have interpreted these traits as symptoms of sexual
repression or as metaphors for other kinds of marginalized identities, yet Angela
M. Smith conducts a richer investigation into the period's social and cultural preoccupations.
She finds instead a fascination with eugenics and physical and cognitive debility
in the narrative and spectacle of classic 1930s horror, heightened by the viewer's
desire for visions of vulnerability and transformation.
Reading such films as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Freaks(1932), and Mad Love (1935) against early-twentieth-century disability discourse and propaganda on racial and biological purity, Smith showcases classic horror's dependence on the narratives of eugenics and physiognomics. She also notes the genre's conflicted and often contradictory visualizations. Smith ultimately locates an indictment of biological determinism in filmmakers' visceral treatments, which take the impossibility of racial improvement and bodily perfection to sensationalistic heights. Playing up the artifice and conventions of disabled monsters, filmmakers exploited the fears and yearnings of their audience, accentuating both the perversity of the medical and scientific gaze and the debilitating experience of watching horror. Classic horror films therefore encourage empathy with the disabled monster, offering captive viewers an unsettling encounter with their own impairment. Smith's work profoundly advances cinema and disability studies, in addition to general histories concerning the construction of social and political attitudes toward the Other.
The Decadent Republic of Letters: Taste, Politics, and Cosmopolitan Community from Baudelaire to Beardsley
While scholars have long associated the group of nineteenth-century French and English writers and artists known as the decadents with alienation, escapism, and withdrawal from the social and political world, Matthew Potolsky offers an alternative reading of the movement. In The Decadent Republic of Letters, he treats the decadents as fundamentally international, defined by a radically cosmopolitan ideal of literary sociability rather than an inward turn toward private aesthetics and exotic sensation.
The Decadent Republic of Letters looks at the way Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, and Algernon Charles Swinburne used the language of classical republican political theory to define beauty as a form of civic virtue. The libertines, an international underground united by subversive erudition, gave decadents a model of countercultural affiliation and a vocabulary for criticizing national canon formation and the increasing state control of education. Decadent figures such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, Walter Pater, Vernon Lee, Aubrey Beardsley, and Oscar Wilde envisioned communities formed through the circulation of art. Decadents lavishly praised their counterparts from other traditions, translated and imitated their works, and imagined the possibility of new associations forged through shared tastes and texts. Defined by artistic values rather than language, geography, or ethnic identity, these groups anticipated forms of attachment that are now familiar in youth countercultures and on social networking sites.
Bold and sophisticated, The Decadent Republic of Letters unearths a pervasive decadent critique of nineteenth-century notions of political community and reveals the collective effort by the major figures of the movement to find alternatives to liberalism and nationalism.
"Potolsky offers a fresh and original contribution to the study of decadence and succeeds in showing how the movement is not a dusty relic of the nineteenth century, but a provocative and relevant intervention into contemporary issues. In true decadent manner, Potolsky approaches his subject perversely, arguing that we should look not at what decadence rejects but instead at what its proponents valorize. The result is a perspective that emphasizes engagement over withdrawal and renunciation. Decadence emerges from this analysis an exciting, revitalized ideology, one that suggests new ways of approaching contemporary debates."—Melanie Hawthorne, Texas A&M University
"A new understanding, full of fresh detail and local insight, and it will take an important and indeed essential place in the growing body of scholarly work in this field. . . . A welcome contribution to the understanding of the cultural politics of late nineteenth-century decadence."—Victorian Studies
Hope, Heart, and the Humanities tells the story of how Venture, a free, interdisciplinary college humanities course
inspired by the national Clemente Course, has helped open doors to improve the lives
of people with low incomes who face barriers to attending college. For over a decade,
this course has given hundreds of adults, some of them immigrants or refugees, the
knowledge, confidence, and power to rechart their lives.
Readers will go inside Venture classrooms to see what occurs when adults enter serious discussions about literature, critical writing, art history, American history, and philosophy. Apparent also are the difficulties nontraditional students, who range in age from 18 to 60, often encounter in a college classroom and the hard choices they and their teachers make. What readers may remember most are the stories and words from people whose views of the world broaden and whose directions in life changed.
“A terrific introduction to a grass roots movement of oppressed people and educators worldwide, changing lives and communities through thinking and dialogue, more powerful than munitions. Students from all walks of life and backgrounds overcome poverty, racism, homelessness, abusive relationships, and hopelessness through their study of the humanities. Nuggets of teaching brilliance pervade the volume."
—David R. Kittay, director, Harlem Clemente Course for the Humanities
Immigrants lost in the blistering expanse of the Sonoran Desert, problem bears, bats
pollinating saguaros, a Good Samaritan filling tanks at emergency water stations,
and the terrified runaway boy who shoots him pierce the heart and mind of Rosana Derais.
“Vanishings,” the first story in Silence and Song,is a love letter, a prayer to these strangers whose lives penetrate and transform
Rosana’s own sorrow.
In “Translations,” the prose poem connecting the two longer fictions, child refugees at a multilingual literacy center in Salt Lake City discover the merciful “translation” of dance and pantomime.
The convergence of two disparate events—a random murder in Seattle and the nuclear accident at Chernobyl—catalyze the startling, eruptive form of the concluding piece,“requiem: home: and the rain, after.” Narrated in first person by the killer’s sister and plural first person by the “liquidators” who come to the Evacuation Zone to bury entire villages poisoned by radioactive fallout, “requiem” navigates the immediate trauma of murder and environmental disaster; personal and global devastation; and the remarkable recovery of the miraculously diverse more-than-human world.
In stark, fevered, poetic lines, Valen Arnoux confesses his intimate participation in 131 executions. As a prison guard and member of the strap down team, he is compelled to rehearse, to perfect his timing and skills, to synchronize his movements with the precise choreography of the team. Each member takes his turn playing the role of the condemned, "because no body is the same, and every man responds differently." These theatrical performances catalyze an uncanny sense of identification-any man might be himself, his closest friend, his brother...
David S. Roh
What is the cultural value of illegal works that violate the copyrights of popular fiction? Why do they persist despite clear and stringent intellectual property laws? Drawing on the disciplines of new media, law, and literary studies, Illegal Literature suggests that extralegal works such as fan fiction are critical to a system that spurs the evolution of culture.
Reconsidering voices relegated to the cultural periphery, David S. Roh shows how infrastructure—in the form of legal policy and network distribution—slows or accelerates the rate of change. He analyzes the relationship between intellectual property rights and American literature in two recent copyright disputes. And, in comparing American fan fiction and Japanese dojinshi, he illustrates how infrastructure and legal climates detract from or encourage fledgling creativity.
Illegal Literature fills a crucial gap between the scholarly and the popular by closely examining several modes of marginalized cultural production. Roh makes the case for protecting an environment conducive to literary heresy, the articulation of an accretive rather than solitary authorial genius, and the idea that letting go rather than holding on is important to a generative creative process. In a media ecology inundated by unauthorized materials, Illegal Literature argues that the proliferation of unsanctioned texts may actually benefit literary and cultural development.
Dreamlives of Debris is a hybrid retelling of the Theseus and Minotaur myth. Here the Minotaur is a little deformed girl—she calls herself Debris—hidden away from public view in the labyrinth beneath Knossos. She possesses the ability to hear the flood of thoughts and see the flood of memories, desires, and futures of others throughout history from Herodotus and Pliny to Borges and Edward Snowden.
Her labyrinth takes the form of an impossible liquid architecture bearing no center and hence no discernible perimeter. Dreamlives of Debris explores such impossible architecture as a way of knowing — an extended metaphor for our current sense of lived experience: the feeling, for instance, of being awash in massive, networked data fields that may lead everywhere and nowhere at once. The lyrical narrative takes the form of a collage composed of multiple voices and genres from multiple time periods.
The Broken Country uses a violent incident that took place in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2012 as a springboard for examining the long-term cultural and psychological effects of the Vietnam War. To make sense of the shocking and baffling incident―in which a young homeless man born in Vietnam stabbed a number of white men purportedly in retribution for the war―Paisley Rekdal draws on a remarkable range of material and fashions it into a compelling account of the dislocations suffered by the Vietnamese and also by American-born veterans over the past decades. She interweaves a narrative about the crime with information collected in interviews, historical examination of the arrival of Vietnamese immigrants in the 1970s, a critique of portrayals of Vietnam in American popular culture, and discussions of the psychological consequences of trauma. This work allows us to better understand transgenerational and cultural trauma and advances our still complicated struggle to comprehend the war.
Through all its transformations and reinventions over the past century, “Sin City”
has consistently been regarded by artists and cultural critics as expressing in purest
form, for better or worse, an aesthetic and social order spawned by neon signs and
institutionalized indulgence. In other words, Las Vegas provides a codex with which
to confront the problems of the West and to track the people, materials, ideas, and
virtual images that constitute postregional space.
Morta Las Vegas considers Las Vegas and the problem of regional identity in the American West through a case study of a single episode of the television crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Delving deep into the interwoven events of the episode titled “4 × 4,” but resisting a linear, logical case-study approach, the authors draw connections between the city—a layered and complex world—and the violent, uncanny mysteries of a crime scene. Morta Las Vegas reveals nuanced issues characterizing the emergence of a postregional West, moving back and forth between a geographical and a procedural site and into a place both in between and beyond Western identity.
What is fanfiction, and what is it not? Why does fanfiction matter? And what makes
it so important to the future of literature?
Fic is a groundbreaking exploration of the history and culture of fan writing and what it means for the way we think about reading, writing, and authorship. It’s a story about literature, community, and technology—about what stories are being told, who’s telling them, how, and why.
With provocative discussions from both professional and fan writers, on subjects from Star Trek to The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Harry Potter, Twilight, and beyond, Fic sheds light on the widely misunderstood world(s) of fanfiction—not only how fanfiction is transforming the literary landscape, but how it already has.
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature
In Animal, Vegetable, Digital, Elizabeth Swanstrom makes a confident and spirited argument for the use of digital art in support of ameliorating human engagement with the environment and suggests a four-part framework for analyzing and discussing such applications.
Through close readings of a panoply of texts, artworks, and cultural artifacts, Swanstrom demonstrates that the division popular culture has for decades observed between nature and technology is artificial. Not only is digital technology not necessarily a brick in the road to a dystopian future of environmental disaster, but digital art forms can be a revivifying bridge that returns people to a more immediate relationship to nature as well as their own embodied selves.
To analyze and understand the intersection of digital art and nature, Animal, Vegetable, Digital explores four aesthetic techniques: coding, collapsing, corresponding, and conserving. “Coding” denotes the way artists use operational computer code to blur distinctions between the reader and text, and, hence, the world. Inviting a fluid conception of the boundary between human and technology, “collapsing” voids simplistic assumptions about the human body’s innate perimeter. The process of translation between natural and human-readable signs that enables communication is described as “corresponding.” “Conserving” is the application of digital art by artists to democratize large- and small-scale preservation efforts.
A fascinating synthesis of literary criticism, communications and journalism, science and technology, and rhetoric that draws on such disparate phenomena as simulated environments, video games, and popular culture, Animal, Vegetable, Digital posits that partnerships between digital aesthetics and environmental criticism are possible that reconnect humankind to nature and reaffirm its kinship with other living and nonliving things.
Vincent P. Pecora
In Secularization without End: Beckett, Mann, Coetzee, Vincent P. Pecora elaborates an alternative history of the twentieth-century Western novel that explains the resurgence of Christian theological ideas. Standard accounts of secularization in the novel assume the gradual disappearance of religious themes through processes typically described as rationalization: philosophy and science replace faith. Pecora shows, however, that in the modern novels he examines, “secularization” ceases to mean emancipation from the prescientific ignorance or enchantment commonly associated with belief and signifies instead the shameful state of a humanity bereft of grace and undeserving of redemption.
His book focuses on the unpredictable and paradoxical rediscovery of theological perspectives in otherwise secular novels after 1945. The narratives he analyzes are all seemingly godless in their overt points of view, from Samuel Beckett’s Murphy to Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus to J. M. Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus. But, Pecora argues, these novels wind up producing varieties of religious doctrine drawn from Augustinian and Calvinist claims about primordial guilt and the impotence of human will. In the most artfully imaginative ways possible, Beckett, Mann, and Coetzee resist the apparently inevitable plot that so many others have constructed for the history of the novel, by which human existence is reduced to mundane and meaningless routines and nothing more. Instead, their writing invokes a religious past that turns secular modernity, and the novel itself, inside out.
“Secularization without End is a well-argued and provocative exploration of the modern novel grounded in a compelling set of theological reflections. Vincent P. Pecora discusses primarily Samuel Beckett’s trilogy (1950), Thomas Mann’s Dr. Faustus (1947), and various novels by J. M. Coetzee from the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. This is not just a set of three individual-author essays; it is about an alternative history of the novel that challenges the paradigms that have prevailed from Watt to Moretti." — Russell Berman, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University
How do genres develop? In what ways do they reflect changing political and cultural trends? What do they tell us about the motivations of publishers and readers? Combining close readings and formal analysis with a sociology of literary institutions and markets, Minor Characters Have Their Day offers a compelling new approach to genre study and contemporary fiction. Focusing on the booming genre of books that transform minor characters from canonical literary texts into the protagonists of new works, Jeremy Rosen makes broader claims about the state of contemporary fiction, the strategies of the publishing industry over recent decades, and the function of literary characters.
Rosen traces the recent surge in "minor-character elaboration" to the late 1960s and works such as Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. These early examples often recover the voices of marginalized individuals and groups. As the genre has exploded between the 1980s and the present, with novels about Ahab's wife, Huck Finn's father, and Mr. Dalloway, it has begun to embody the neoliberal commitments of subjective experience, individual expression, and agency. Eventually, large-scale publishers capitalized on the genre as a way to appeal to educated audiences aware of the prestige of the classics and to draw in identity-based niche markets. Rosen's conclusion ties the understudied evolution of minor-character elaboration to the theory of literary character.
Evolutionary theory sparked numerous speculations about human development, and one of the most ardently embraced was the idea that children are animals recapitulating the ascent of the species. After Darwin's Origin of Species, scientific, pedagogical, and literary works featuring beastly babes and wild children interrogated how our ancestors evolved and what children must do in order to repeat this course to humanity. Exploring fictions by Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Charles Kingsley, and Margaret Gatty, Jessica Straley argues that Victorian children's literature not only adopted this new taxonomy of the animal child, but also suggested ways to complete the child's evolution. In the midst of debates about elementary education and the rising dominance of the sciences, children's authors plotted miniaturized evolutions for their protagonists and readers and, more pointedly, proposed that the decisive evolutionary leap for both our ancestors and ourselves is the advent of the literary imagination.