|David Gorman||The Future of Literary Study: An Experiment in Guesswork |
The fundamental structure of literary study has stayed remarkably constant during the last seventy-five years: professional teaching and research have revolved around "criticism," or the exegesis of individual works, and every other aspect of literary study has been treated as contributory to "reading." There is almost no precedent for this pattern of activity in anything now recognized as the history of criticism. If these claims are at all correct, then studying literature differently would likely mean a redistribution of status among the subdisciplines, with such traditional fields as poetics, erudition (roughly, literary scholarship), and even evaluation pursued alongside criticism, as ends in themselves.
|Ashley Marshall||Henry Fielding and the “Scriblerians” |
Most modern scholars have taken for granted that Henry Fielding admired and sought to emulate the great "Scriblerian" satirists we consider the titans of their age. That Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and John Gay exerted a major influence on his development is a critical commonplace. The principal piece of evidence is Fielding's use of the "Scriblerus Secundus" pseudonym for six early plays (1730–32); scholars have also touted his admiration for Pope and Swift and attempted to find parallels between his work and theirs (and Gay's). An impartial assessment, however, does not substantiate the claims for a close connection. The miscontextualization of Fielding illustrates a common methodological problem: presuming a context that is only one among many possibilities. We need to see Fielding as he was—a brilliant, experimental Grub Street writer who evolved independently of his Scriblerian predecessors.
|Stephen Knadler||Back to “Oriental” Africa: Islamicism and Becoming African in the Early Black Atlantic |
Although revisionary work in African American literary history has stretched the borders of the Black Atlantic to include a hemispheric America or a Black Pacific, these transnational paradigms ignore the connection of the Black Atlantic's migrations, cultural exchanges, and cross-racial encounters with an Islamic diaspora. By restoring West Africa as a contact zone within overlapping nineteenth-century Black Atlantic and Islamic diasporic histories, this essay traces a complex, ambivalent "islamicism" (or specific Islamic orientalism) within early pan-African or "back-to-Africa" discourse. In key works shaping nineteenth-century political and psychological identifications with Africa, Black Atlantic writers erased the multistoried hybridity of a mixed Muslim, Arab, and "native" West Africa. To imagine a pan-African solidarity figured around nation building on a primitive frontier, early Black Atlantic writers disavowed an Islamic economic, cultural, and political presence. Islam represented an abjected third term that would overturn the foundational binary logic of Anglo-American exceptionalism. Arab Muslim resistance in Algiers, however, complicated this prevailing islamicist denial as Black Atlantic writers also saw in leaders such as Abdelkader early representatives of postcolonial resistance.
|Christopher L. Hill||Nana in the World: Novel, Gender, and Transnational Form |
In the decades following the publication of Emile Zola's novel Nana (1880), "Nana figures" resembling Zola's heroine appeared in fiction around the world. The history of the Nana figure contradicts current models for the study of world literature, based on the diffusion of forms unchanged by their movement. The protagonists of the Japanese writer Kosugi Tengai's New Year's Finery and the American Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (both 1900) show Zola's character reduced to a cluster of minimal qualities: performance, mobility, and contagion. Paradoxically, flattening the Nana figure makes her more dynamic, able to address social questions absent from Nana. The history of the Nana figure suggests that a focus on transformation through movement offers new approaches to the history of naturalism, and by extension realism, on a world scale.
|Marguerite Waller||Carole Levin and John Watkins, Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds: National and Transnational Identities in the Elizabethan Age|
|Eva Geulen||Richard T. Gray, Money Matters: Economics and the German Cultural Imagination, 1770-1850|
|Christopher Lane||Kent Puckett, Bad Form: Social Mistakes and the Nineteenth-Century Novel|
|Michele Elam||Werner Sollors, Ethnic Modernism|
|Rebecca L. Walkowitz||Jahan Ramazani, A Transnational Poetics|
|Elizabeth Freeman||Gillian Harkins, Everybody’s Family Romance: Reading Incest in Neoliberal America|
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
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