Volume 66, Issue 3 | September 2005

Articles
Author Title
Mohamed-Salah Omri History, Literature and Settler Colonialism in North Africa  
French occupation of Algeria in 1830 and of Tunisia in 1881 inevitably generated an intra-Mediterranean conflict where the history and memory of colonizer and colonized overlap and intersect. The subsequent rise of French settler colonialism fed on and was served by legitimating narratives and "academic" evidence. Louis Bertrand and others promoted the idea of the Latin character of North Africa in their fiction and in their research. In Tunisia, Yves Chatelain produced a sketch map and an anthology of a French-based entity he called "Tunisian" literature, revising French Orientalist and exotic literature along the way. On the "native" side, the assertion of an independent and viable culture based in the Islamic and Arabic traditions saw its fullest expression in the journal al-Mabahith (1938-1947). This essay looks beyond the two antagonistic discourses themselves to the processes employed by both sides in rewriting and refashioning the history and literature of this Mediterranean cultural space, such as the use of Roman, Greek and Arab icons and topoi like Apuleius, Ulysses, Sindbad, Ibn Khaldun…. The intersection between Mediterranean history, colonialism and Orientalism makes this a particularly complex situation where the interaction between literature and history can be observed.
Megan M. Ferry Women's Literary History: Inventing Tradition in Modern China  
Literary histories emerged in early twentieth century China as a result of increased interaction with other nation-states and operated as a systematic means to measure Chinašs modern development. Part of this development reconsidered womenšs social roles and the possibility for gender equality. Histories of pre-1911 Chinese women writers recuperated their writings from presumed obscurity to recast a cultural tradition that had previously excluded women. This paper argues that even though these literary histories form part of an emancipatory project to liberate women and Chinese society from their "unmodern" Confucian past, they paradoxically place the female subject of the literary historical narrative in two temporal spaces: a utopian, pre-Confucian, prepatriarchal past and an idealist, unattainable future in order to delineate a Chinese writing practice as well as to claim Chinašs equal status in a global context. This historiographic project reveals the contradictory recuperation of women as historical subjects within specific, and often limited, parameters of essentialized femaleness, maintaining womenšs contribution to literary history as a symbolic gesture that circumscribes their historical contribution to Chinese literature and culture.
Anthony J. Cuda Who Stood Over Eliot's Shoulder?  
This essay traces the development of a recurrent theme in T. S. Eliot's poetry, plays, and prose, using it as a vantage point from which to view his ongoing intellectual struggle to understand the nature and limitations of the human soul. It identifies what he calls in The Dry Salvages (1941) "the backward half-look / Over the shoulder" with the Shakespearean "recognition scene," and examines the ways in which Eliot experiments with the scene in "Marina" (1930) and after. The essay draws from a variety of unpublished and uncollected letters, reviews, and essays to explore Eliot's interest in the hidden faculties of the psyche, those foreign regions glimpsed only from the corner of the mind's eye and never fully focused, and in the emotional turmoil that results from the conscious mind's sudden realization of its own incompleteness and contingence. It concludes by discussing how two of Eliot's most prominent twentieth-century descendants, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, rediscover and recuperate his insights into recognition and the hidden soul and integrate those insights into their own imaginative projects.
Mark Maslan The Faking of the Americans: Passing, Trauma, and National Identity in Philip Roth's The Human Stain  
Philip Roth's The Human Stain dramatizes the conflict between racial and national identity. For Roth, the racial model is grounded in historical continuity, whereas the national one is grounded in discontinuity. The book's narrative form tips the balance in favor of nationality by converting historical discontinuity into a basis for collective identity. The Human Stain presents itself as a memoir of Coleman Silk by his friend, Nathan Zuckerman. This allows Roth to emphasize the limits of Nathan's knowledge: he learns Coleman's history only after his death, and even then his information is incomplete. In this sense, Nathan's story bears the marks of historical discontinuity. Yet Nathan's lack of factual knowledge gives rise to a subjective bond with his dead friend that enables him not only to reconstruct Coleman's life, but to bear witness to it. In this way, Roth transforms historical discontinuity into a source of shared historical experience. The central question of this essay is whether the embrace of such discontinuities can provide the idea of group identity as shared history with the logical coherence it otherwise lacks. If not, Roth's preference for American identity over African-American is groundless.
Reviews
Author Title
Henry Staten Lethe: The Art and Critique of Forgetting by Harald Weinrich
Vin Nardizzi Green Desire: Imagining Early Modern English Gardens by Rebecca Bushnell
Harold Love Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order, 1450-1830 by David McKitterick
Jesse Matz The One vs. the Many: Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel by Alex Woloch
Rosemarie Bodenheimer The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt by Caroline Levine
David Huntsperger Savage Sight / Constructed Noise: Poetic Adaptations of Painterly Techniques in the French and American Avant-Gardes by David LeHardy Sweet

Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 | University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430
mlq@u.washington.edu