Volume 72, Issue 4 | December 2011

Author Title
Ellen R. Welch Performing a New France, Making Colonial History in Marc Lescarbot’s Théâtre de Neptune (1606)  
This essay examines the role of performance practices in the making of colonial history through an analysis of the first French-language theater piece staged in the New World, Marc Lescarbot's Théâtre de Neptune (1606). The form of performance in this work offers a radically different way of crafting and engaging with history, simultaneously “restoring” the past via reenactment in the present and implying the possibility of future reiterations. Lescarbot's script presents a useful case study of performance's challenges to more traditional configurations of literary and cultural history.
Geoffrey Turnovsky Authorial Modesty and Its Readers: Mondanité and Modernity in Seventeenth-Century France  
Modesty and other “antiauthorial” conventions (anonymity, self-effacing prefaces, refusal to profit) tend to be viewed as retrograde concessions to the outdated norms of an antiquated cultural field, which a more modern, assertive, and critical authorial figure will learn to abandon. Yet in the context of the seventeenth century, such gestures were associated with modernity rather than the opposite. This essay reinterprets the significance of authorial modesty by analyzing this disconnect, which calls attention less to the changing strategies of writers than to the evolving expectations and desires of readers to whom the gestures were addressed. It argues that if the aristocratic airs adopted by writers situate them squarely in the Old Regime, the readerly practices to which they appealed (and which they in turn shaped)—individualized and moralized as well as commercialized—might, by contrast, allow us more easily to associate the self-consciously modern yet modest customs of seventeenth-century authorship with our own modernity.
Allison Schachter Modernist Indexicality: The Language of Gender, Race, and Domesticity in Hebrew and Yiddish Modernism  
By focusing on what Michael Silverstein calls nonreferential indexicality—those “features of speech independent of any referential speech event” that point to the “sociological relations of personae in the speech situation” and “accomplish socially constituted ends”—this essay challenges received understandings of the linguistic purchase of modernist innovation. The author examines Hebrew and Yiddish modernist literary texts by Devorah Baron and Dovid Bergelson that employ nonreferential indexicality in order to chart the ruptures in two textual communities, in two particular historical and literary moments when gender norms, alongside racial and ethnic identities, underwent abrupt and vexed change. In these stories, scenes of domestic drama are transformed into modernist narratives of social and cultural transformation. The article contends that a pragmatic linguistic approach to literary texts illuminates how minor language modernist writing contains a self-awareness that not only addresses a cosmopolitan audience but also preserves the contingent and shifting parameters of local linguistic communities.
Review essay
Author Title
Matthew Levay Modernism, Periodically
Author Title
Gregory Jay Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors, eds., A New Literary History of America
Peter Carafiol Michael Boyden, Predicting the Past: The Paradoxes of American Literary History
Juliet Shields Jennie Batchelor, Women’s Work: Labour, Gender, Authorship, 1750–1830
Philip Shaw Mary A. Favret, War at a Distance: Romanticism and the Making of Modern Wartime
Michelle S. Liu Eric Hayot, The Hypothetical Mandarin: Sympathy, Modernity, and Chinese Pain
Laura Winkiel Urmila Seshagiri, Race and the Modernist Imagination
Patricia Meyer Spacks Richard Maxwell, The Historical Novel in Europe, 1650–1950
Rolf Lessenich Julie Candler Hayes, Translation, Subjectivity, and Culture in France and England, 1600–1800

Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 | University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430