|François Jullien||Rethinking Comparison (translated by Erik Anspach) |
Comparison of Chinese and Western civilizations cannot proceed on the basis of influences but only of originary distinctions. Even the most general categories remain unassimilable and must be understood in terms of contrasts. An exterior, “utopic” or “atopic” perspective that takes nothing for granted mutually highlights Chinese and Western cultures. China, for instance, exhibits no disjuncture between sacred and profane, hence no canon in the Western sense. Even difference is too relative a term; cultures must be grasped in terms of separations, of how they stand apart from one another, making diversity an irreducible resource. “Being,” “truth,” and “time” are all Western categories whose aspects are presented altogether differently in Chinese. Displacement, in the sense of Michel Foucault or Gilles Deleuze, still premises a norm. So does any notion of a rooted cultural absolute. Everything is subject to understanding, via dialogue rather than intuition, and with continued alertness to the unthought within each culture.
|Kevin Pask||Ancients and Moderns: The Origins of Literary History |
Literary history has largely ignored its own origins in the late Renaissance, and we still lack a full account of how literary history, based in the European vernacular literatures, emerged during the early modern period. Pask attempts to redress this lack by arguing, primarily through English examples, for the long-term significance of the cultural debate between Ancients and Moderns across Europe. The Moderns argued for the possibility of historical change in literary standards; the Ancients, for the putatively unchanging models of the Greek and Roman classics. Probably the most important outcome of this debate was the self-conscious historicity of the European national literatures as they consolidated new forms of cultural authority. The idea of historical change aligned the literary Moderns with a revolution in scientific discourse, including Baconian science. It also produced an account of national literature that was cosmopolitan in scope rather than narrowly chauvinistic.
|Michael Modarelli||The Struggle for Origins: Old English in Nineteenth-Century America |
The founding of the United States brought with it many conceptions of Englishness, among them the historical connection to an Anglo-Saxon past. To explain the importance of Anglo-Saxonism in the American nineteenth century, Modarelli argues that the northern American states, mostly under the influence of German Romanticism, looked back to the northern Saxons as a mythical origin of American culture, while the southern states, spurred in part by Walter Scott’s popular reversal of the Norman-Saxon equation, followed a more cavalier mythology. As nineteenth-century historical texts employed Norman-Saxon dichotomies for nationalist purposes, various nations manipu¬lated the Anglo-Saxon myth for nation-building purposes. America was no different. Ultimately, its relation to its Anglo-Saxon past became a struggle for its own national heritage.
|Tim Dolin||Who Belongs Where in The Woodlanders? |
In recent years ecocriticism has renovated the old orthodoxy, demol¬ished forty years ago by Raymond Williams, that Thomas Hardy was the “incomparable chronicler” of an unchanging culture and the “last representative of old rural England.” In particular, The Woodlanders has been reread as the study of a culture of belonging that is infiltrated and undermined by a culture of tourism. This essay argues that Hardy’s novel in fact obliges us to question what belonging means in Wessex, where tourism is already immanent and where the culture of habitat is a consumer fantasy to which Hardy himself contributed as a producer of rural tales for metropolitan markets. Fiction reading and the tourism it complements and engenders both have material consequences, as the novel acknowledges. Reader-tourists see themselves in Grace Melbury, in particular, and recognize in her story a struggle toward a new kind of touristic subjectivity, founded in poetic attentiveness. If they read Hardy aright, they are encouraged to follow Grace in unmaking the self-evidence of the scenic Wessex: to notice it, as she does, for the first time, in an extreme close-up that “disproportions” and denaturalizes it, refuting the sedate long shots of tourist brochures.
|Shuang Shen||Hong Kong Literary History and the Construction of the Local in Xi Xi’s I City |
Hong Kong literary history presents a polemical case study for a con¬temporary rethinking of national literary history: Is it a local history or a global history? How should we describe the complex connections between the city’s sinophone literature and the literatures of mainland China and other sinophone locations? This essay recognizes the sig¬nificance of the Hong Kong identity discourse constructed around the 1997 “Handover,” but it argues that a historical narration of localness cannot follow a national literary model. Rather, it is important to con¬sider the interactions between history and place and to examine how knowledge is made in and transacted between specific places. Taking I City, a 1975 nationalist allegory of Hong Kong, as an example, the essay shows that the principle of modernist collage enables Xi Xi to construct a narrative of the local that retains myriad complex connections with nonlocal places. Collage can be understood as the poetics of Hong Kong literary history.
|Heather Keenleyside||Bruce Boehrer, Animal Characters: Nonhuman Beings in Early Modern Literature and Laura Brown, Homeless Dogs and Melancholy Apes: Humans and Other Animals in the Modern Literary Imagination|
|James Kuzner||Julia Reinhard Lupton, Thinking with Shakespeare|
|Pamela Cheek||Geoffrey Turnovsky, The Literary Market: Authorship and Modernity in the Old Regime|
|Penny Fielding||Juliet Shields, Sentimental Literature and Anglo-Scottish Identity, 1745-1820|
|Barbara Ladd||Jennifer Rae Greeson, Our South: Geographic Fantasy and the Rise of National Literature|
|Ryan Vu||Edward Mack, Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Publishing, Prizes, and the Ascription of Literary Value|
|Alexander C. Y. Huang||Robin Visser, Cities Surround the Countryside: Urban Aesthetics in Postsocialist China|
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430