Abstracts for Volume 64 | 2003

Volume 64, Issue 1
Author Title
Peter Coviello Intimacy and Affliction: DuBois, Race, and Psychoanalysis
Mark A. Wollaeger The Woolfs in the Jungle: Intertextuality, Sexuality, and the Emergence of Female Modernism in The Voyage Out, The Village in the Jungle, and Heart of Darkness

This essay argues that the incipient female modernism of Virginia Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out, was catalyzed by her productive engagement with Joseph Conrad and Leonard Woolf, whose combined influence helped Virginia define her difference from Jane Austen. Conrad's importance to Woolf has not been understood in the context of her marriage to Leonard, a colonial administrator who gave up his post in Ceylon to finish his first novel, The Village in the Jungle, and to set up house in London with Virginia, who was struggling to finish The Voyage Out. Leonard's novel has not been studied as an influence on Virginia's, but for Virginia the potential emotional cost of choosing heterosexual domesticity was brought home not only by her decision to marry Leonard but by the discursive pressure of Leonard's text, itself echoing Conrad's, on the embattled subjectivity of her own. Closely attentive to the ways in which gender, sexuality, and literary history mediate between texts, the essay offers a new perspective on the tortuous composition of The Voyage Out, which Woolf may have rewritten as many as twelve times, and articulates a version of female modernism grounded not in the (feminine) subversion of (male) structures but in the messy tangle of interpersonal and intertextual relations that informs literary production.

Constance Spreen Resisting The Plague: The French Reactionary Right And Artaud's Theater Of Cruelty

Antonin Artaud complained bitterly on numerous occasions of the public's "resistance" to his dramaturgical theories. This essay traces the history of the reception of Artaud's cultural interventions in the 1930s by members of the French political far Right and aims to explain the logic by which Artaud was being resisted. In so doing, it argues that despite Artaud's uncompromising eschewal of political involvement, he was nevertheless deeply engaged in a "politics of style" emanating from the Action Française, a reactionary, nationalist movement under the tutelage of Charles Maurras that refused to him entry into the canon of "French" letters. Diverging esthetic commitments, involving varying notions of what is constitutive of the poetic and the nonpoetic, translated in Maurrassian ideology into opposing political commitments. Spreen's essay demonstrates how Artaud's promotion of a "poetry of the senses" threatened nationalist esthetic and political boundaries as nationalists identified Artaudian theater with the plagues of political and esthetic anarchy imported into France from abroad.

Paul B. Armstrong Being "Out of Place": Edward Said and the Contradictions of Cultural Differences
top Volume 64, Issue 2
Author Title
Brook Thomas National Literary Histories: Imagined Communities or Imagined Societies?

Although we are, according to some, in a postnational or transnational era, numerous new national literary histories continue to be produced, and, as the essays in this issue demonstrate, scholarly attention to national literary histories continues to reap rewards. The production of so many new national literary histories continues in part because there are more officially recognized nations today than ever before, and in part because old histories are constantly updated in response to market pressures and a sense that each generation deserves a new version of its literary past. This demand for newness means that no matter how comprehensive a past history might be, it is inevitably faulted for repressing aspects of the national literary past that the new one claims to recover. A case in point is the highly successful 1988 Columbia Literary History of the United States. On the one hand, the Columbia History reveals unacknowledged continuities with the histories it would displace. On the other, its formal structure offers a legitimately new sense of the nation by implying that it is an imagined society, not, as Benedict Anderson would have it, an imagined community.

Linda Georgianna Periodization and Politics: The Case of the Missing Twelfth Century in English Literary History
Richard Helgerson Before National Literary History

In the last two decades of the sixteenth century, the English produced no national literary history, but they did begin thinking about what it would take for England to have such a history and they began claiming that in their own time its foundations were in fact being laid. For them this meant emulating and imitating the accomplishments of ancient Greece and Rome and of modern Italy. A national literature, as they understood it, could not begin at home. It had, on the contrary, to take the form of a translated import. In this, the Elizabethan experience bears a striking likeness to that of postcolonial nations in the second half of the twentieth century. For both, only the foreign model is, as the postcolonial theorist Dipesh Chakrabarty has put it, "theoretically knowable." Like modern postcolonial peoples, the Elizabethans were thus self-conscious "hybrids," "mimic men." This essay generalizes from these observations to argue that all national literary histories inevitably participate in the condition of mimicry, hybridity, and postcoloniality, that all are built on a theoretical frame supplied by some foreign other.

Hinrich C. Seeba "Trostgründe": Cultural Nationalism and Historical Legitimation in Nineteenth-Century German Literary Histories

The field of German Studies is committed to literature as a social practice, to history as a discourse of continuity and to the nation as a mental construct. The 'culturalist' approach to writing national literature is concerned mainly with two questions: how does the concept of cultural continuity, with its attending moral claims, respond to the numerous political breaking points in German history? Since Germany for centuries has lacked a unified state as a kind of constitutional framework for developing an undisputed national identity, the idea of a national literature, as it gained momentum between the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 and the founding of the German Reich in 1871, tended to serve a compensatory function: to create in language and literature what was missing in political reality. Thus, a discourse of consolation, in German Trost, emerged, an attempt to raise national pride in the face of political, economic, and social gloom by drawing attention to great German achievements in the realm of the arts, literature, philosophy, and science. The Romantic philosopher Fichte's call of 1807 for a "national book" was heeded in several areas, in linguistic terms by Campe's Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (1807), in literary terms by Goethe's Faust I (1808), and in historical terms by a growing number of histories of German national literature, with Ludwig Wachler's retrospective of 1818 ("At the time, looking back on a glorious past offered the only worldly consolation") being among the first and the historian Gervinus's Geschichte der poetischen National-Literatur der Deutschen of 1835 ("Like art, history must soothe, and we must never go away from a work of art unconsoled") being the most significant politically. Writing the history of German national literature, thus, was always considered an important contribution to the idea of Kulturnation, cultural nation, which was supposed to anticipate and justify the hoped-for nation state.

Margit Sichert Functionalizing Cultural Memory: Foundational British Literary History and the Construction of National Identity
Hugh Roberts The Same People Living in Different Places: Curnow’s Anthology and New Zealand Literary History
Herbert Grabes Cultivating a Common Literary Heritage: British Histories of English Literature since World War II
top Volume 64, Issue 3
Author Title
Catherine Sanok Almoravides at Thebes: Islam and European Identity in the Roman de Thebes

This essay explores the representation of cultural identity and difference in classical romances associated with the court of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. While the story of Troy is used to define European identity as an inheritance from the classical past, the first romance, the Roman de Thèbes, recognizes interaction with Islam as constitutive of European identity. The war between Oedipus's sons for the city of Thebes is populated not only with Greeks and Thebans, but also with several Muslim armies, including Almoravides, who ruled much of Spain at the time of the poem's composition. The poem's capacious understanding of cultural identity registers in its surprising representation of Almoravides as allies of the proto-European Greeks. But in imagining Muslims as participants in the classical past of European culture, the Roman de Thèbes also excludes them from a privileged category of European identity, historicity itself, through what Edward Said has called "synchronic essentialism." In its representation of Almoravides and other Islamic armies at Thebes, the Roman de Thèbes paradoxically anticipates their exclusion from other romance narratives of European identity, even as it recalls the cultural interaction those narratives repress.

Jean Howard Shakespeare and the Geographies of the Early Modern World

This essay argues that attention to the formal features of genres is one way of exploring the historicity of texts. Using early modern drama as her focus, Howard examines the links between generic forms and the historical forces to which they were both response and provocation. In particular, she examines the importance of geographical setting in demarcating differences among dramatic genres on the early modern stage and in forming part of the repertoire of conventions through which the historicity of texts can be addressed. Special attention is given to the geography of Shakespearean tragedy with Macbeth as a test case for the essay's claims.

Christian Thorne Providence in the Early Novel, or Accident, If You Please

When early English novels attempt to represent the social totality, they perceive in everyday life not the working out of God's will (that is, providence), but rather an extraordinary social complexity which can either be described as "fortune," or - the answer that novels increasingly turn to - as a sophisticated but empirically comprehensible social network of causes. The emergent system of finance capital also required such causal and prudential narratives in order to produce the idea of credit as calculable risk. Early novels can thus be understood as cognitive mapping for the commercial classes; at their heart lie the deep connections between credit, causal narrative, and social complexity.

Kristine Byron “Books and Bad Company": Reading the Female Plot in Teresa de la Parra’s Ifigenia

This essay examines Venezuelan writer Teresa de la Parra's Ifigenia, contexualizing the novel in a female tradition of discourse on women and reading (including Jane Austen and Rosalia de Castro), while simulantaneously examining the ways in which Parra writes against the grain of the nineteenth-century female reader as embodied in Flaubert's Madame Bovary. The essay posits Parra's novel as a text interested in scrutinizing literary scripts as well as social ones. It accomplishes this through a combination of pastiche and parody of literary conventions, the employment of subversive rhetorical strategies by its protagonist, and an emphasis in the novel on the topos of reading and the female reader. By scrutinizing the female romance plot itself, Parra both challenges and transforms the tradition of the novel in Spanish America, while building on a unique female literary history.

top Volume 64, Issue 4
Author Title
Heather James Royal Jokes and Sovereign Mystery in Castiglione and Marguerite de Navarre

Focusing on tales in Castiglione's Courtier and de Navarre's Heptameron, this essay examines the rhetorical and social functions of jokes performed by early modern kings in response to betrayal by intimate servants of their households. Alarmed less by the local acts of betrayal than by the theoretical implications of crime attempted on the king's person and property, Alfonso I of Aragon and François I forego the resources of law and instead play games that open up, explore, and attempt to repair problems in the theory of sovereignty itself. After examining the jests in detail, the essay pays close attention to the historical occasions and political motivations for the texts' internal narrators to resist the kings' charismatic bid for autocratic rule. Rather than lend full support to the monarchs' long-range goals, the essay demonstrates, the texts of Castiglione and de Navarre open up political dialogue on the ideal form of governance.

Julie Kane The Myth of the Fixed-Form Villanelle

This essay examines the various accounts in literary reference sources as to how and when the villanelle's poetic form came to be fixed; it then subjects each claim to the test of research. Despite the prevailing belief that a "fixed-form villanelle tradition" existed as of the sixteenth century or even earlier in France, research results demonstrate that only one poem in the "A1bA2 abA1 abA2 abA1 abA2 abA1A2" form was written prior to the mid nineteenth century. Moreover, the actions of two less-than-accurate, if not deliberately dishonest, French scholars-one in the eighteenth century and one in the nineteenth-created the myth of a longstanding fixed-form tradition for the villanelle. Ironically, however, a genuine fixed-form villanelle tradition has arisen since the 1870s, brought into being by modern poets who believed that they were perpetuating a form of medieval or Renaissance heritage. Had Pierre-Charles Berthelin in the eighteenth century and Théodore de Banville in the nineteenth century been more scrupulous in their scholarship, English-language poetry would almost certainly never have gained such poems as Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night," the untitled villanelle in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art," or Theodore Roethke's "The Waking."

Hal Gladfelder The Hard Work of Doing Nothing: Richard Savage's Parallel Lives

While alive, the eighteenth-century poet Richard Savage was known less for his poetry than for his trial and conviction for murder and his lifelong campaign to be acknowledged as the bastard son of two aristocrats. After his death, he became famous as the subject of Samuel Johnson's first biography, the 1744 Life of Savage. This essay focuses on Savage's construction of a public persona in order to examine the emergence of a modern practice of authorship in the early eighteenth century. In response to the changing conditions of publication during this period, many authors self-consciously presented themselves to the public through their own and other writers' texts, so that authorship began to be conceived of as a form of celebrity: both as a strategy of self-advertisement and as a means of moral compensation for the author's increasing sense of alienation and commodification. This public fashioning of the authorial persona through published texts involves a modeling of oneself in imitation of preexisting narrative genres and readymade life stories-in Savage's case those of hack author, condemned criminal, and disinherited aristocrat. Savage's preferred narrative of aristocratic dispossession was largely elaborated through texts by other writers (including Johnson and Eliza Haywood) and aimed to set him above the money-grubbing careerism of the literary marketplace; but his relentless self-promotion in fact contributed to the historical process of commodification of authorship rather than counteracting it.

David Rosen T. S. Eliot and the Lost Youth of Modern Poetry

To make himself Modern, W.B. Yeats shed the youthful voice of his first three decades, and took on the persona of an angry and decrepit old man. While still in his twenties, T.S. Eliot was already writing poems about aging esthetes and faded ladies. W.H. Auden and his generation were jaundiced before they entered college. That all of these authors should have felt it necessary to assume such a voice suggests a deeper problem in the psychology of modern lyric. This essay teases out the consequences for poetic form and ideology by focusing on the early work of T.S. Eliot: from long-suppressed poems of his Harvard years (brought out in 1996 as Inventions of the March Hare) to The Waste Land. Following the collapse of the 19th century imaginative (visionary) tradition, Eliot sought a comparable authority for poetry in the workings of mere consciousness. This shift brought about many of the formal/technical, as well as tonal developments most associated with modern poetry. In addition to Eliot, this essay considers Yeats, who aimed to preserve an oracular authority for his work, and contemporary fiction writers, who understood consciousness primarily as an extension of mimesis.


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