|Jerome McGann||Fenimore Cooper’s Anti-Aesthetic and the Representation of Conflicted History |
This essay reconsiders Cooper’s work and its historical position in two salient relations: first, the Euro-American legal representations that organized the seizure and settlement of the American land from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century; second, the canonical ways of reading fiction that emerged in the context of modernism. The first relation exposes how and why Cooper’s fiction both matures and darkens between The Pioneers (1823) and The Ways of the Hour (1850). The second shows how the strange and arresting works that marked the thirty years of Cooper’s career reveal the limits of traditional modernist aesthetic criteria.
|Alan Rudrum||Eastward Journeys: Literary Crossings of the International Date Line |
The fantasy of turning back the clock by journeying eastward across what we today call the International Date Line appears in the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, Rudyard Kipling, and James Joyce, all of whom create characters who make, or contemplate making, such time-defying journeys. Uneasily yoking together the past and the present in the same physical space, the date line served as a flashpoint for nineteenth- and early twentieth-century debates over whether time was productively rooted in local and regional values and experiences or was universally abstract and placeless. Drawn along a part of the globe that the West regarded as distant, exotic, and racially and culturally inferior, the date line is conveniently ignored in the works of these authors, who transplant what might otherwise be universal anxieties of modernity onto an exotic locale outside the regular view or interest of empire and global commerce. This essay explores how authors have used the fantasy of the eastward journey across the date line to manage the temporal deviancy bound up with the date line’s paradoxical character by domesticating it, projecting it onto vilified spaces and populations, or reclaiming it as an intrinsic rather than extrinsic element of modernity.
|Daniel Katz||Ezra Pound’s Provincial Provence: Arnaut Daniel, Gavin Douglas, and the Vulgar Tongue |
This essay examines Ezra Pound’s mobilizations of the figure of the troubadour poet Arnaut Daniel in the articulation of his own poetics, from The Spirit of Romance of 1910 through the 1930s. Arnaut emerges as a particularly fraught figure in Pound’s negotiations with Eliot, but also in relation to his reading of Dante’s defense of the vernacular, a question that Pound works through by way of the counterintuitive process of translation, with the goal of defending American usage against the linguistic regulatory norms of England. Through recourse to a lexicon derived from the Scottish poet Gavin Douglas in the later translations of Arnaut, Pound’s practice enters into dialogue with broader modernist questions concerning vernacular, regional, or nonstandard usage: what Robert Crawford calls the “provincial” modernist assault on England as cultural and linguistic center of the anglophone world. Pound’s concerns in this respect are read in relation to those of the Irish Samuel Beckett and above all the Scottish Hugh MacDiarmid, in their elaborations of a concept of the vernacular that they both deem “synthetic.” In all cases, translation or multilingualism becomes a central element in a regionally and socially marked vernacular capable of resisting nostalgic claims to cultural totality and the concomitant policing of authenticity.
|Lauren M. E. Goodlad||The Mad Men in the Attic: Seriality and Identity in the Narrative of Capitalist Globalization |
This essay connects the television series Mad Men to Anthony Trollope’s Prime Minister and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. All are serialized narratives of capitalist globalization in which motifs of exile articulate the experience of breached sovereignty in a modern world. Mad Men belongs to a long line of naturalist narratives in which the outsider within (often a Jew or probable Jew) assimilates the myriad impacts of capitalist globalization and thus exemplifies the periodic resurgence of historical realism, which Georg Lukács predicted in The Historical Novel. Serial forms synchronize naturalist representation through a slow temporality that enables viewers and characters to share a deferred longing for the social transformations once symbolized by the 1960s. Mad Men’s objective situation is today’s neoliberal condition, connected to the longue durée of capitalist and imperial unfolding through the recurrence of Judaized otherness and virtualized Jewishness. Don Draper is a virtual Jew in whom the minority subject’s aberrant particularity and the majority subject’s universalist status collide, but serial forms like montage synchronize Don’s virtual condition with the experiences of the show’s “mad women.” Like Emma Bovary, Don is a “madwoman in the attic,” for whom aestheticism and adultery are the sole consolations for the experience of singing for one’s captors.
|David Lee Miller||Jonathan Goldberg, The Seeds of Things: Theorizing Sexuality and Materiality in Renaissance Representations|
|Joshua Scodel||Jeffrey Knapp, Shakespeare Only|
|Vinay Swamy||Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature|
|Andrew van der Vlies||Monica Popescu, South African Literature Beyond the Cold War|
|David Simpson||Birgit Däwes, Ground Zero Fiction: History, Memory, and Representation in the American 9/11 Novel|
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430