|Thomas More’s Account of Natural Language and the Literariness of his Polemics
In A Dialogue Concerning Heresies (1529) and The Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer (1532-33), Thomas More proffers an account of natural language: the writing, speaking collectivity determines the meanings of words, and words picture the contents of the individual consciousness. All that is rendered in language, including the justifying faith of evangelical description, comes of the common, is the product of publicity. Though his twentieth- and twenty-first-century critics have thought otherwise, More’s contemporaries supposed his polemical contest with the evangelical William Tyndale a literary endeavor. In The Confutation, More repeated and playfully dilated his opponent’s choicest phrases. So doing, he sought to show the evil in Tyndale’s lexical pictures. The English were to reject both More’s religion and his account of natural language, while the evangelical doctrine, that meaning is an emanation of text, came tacitly to shape the theory and composition of profane poetry in the century hence.
|An Indian It-Narrative and the Problem of Circulation: Reconsidering a Useful Concept for Literary Study
For decades, scholars have relied on the concept of circulation to explain the operation of texts and to animate the significance of literary studies. Its overuse has elided differences in the virtual relationships created by reading and substituted for precise empirical details about the production and consumption of texts. Circulation has been turned into a widespread cultural ideal and remains one of the least examined stipulations of literary study. For these reasons, reconsidering the role of circulation in literary study is essential. The eighteenth century was a vital period for the creation of a modern definition of circulation, so this essay returns to one especially pertinent case from that period, Helenus Scott’s it-narrative The Adventures of a Rupee (1782), which describes the movements of a rupee coin in the world economy. Attending to the linguistic form and publication history of Scott’s novel offers a new model of circulation that emphasizes coagulation and stasis rather than liquidity, mobility, and flows. This new model explains how texts repeat pre-existing forms of circulation while altering them at the same time, which has consequences for understanding how reading publics arise and reproduce themselves.
|What Is This Thing Called Song?
What is a song? As a literary term, song had acquired particular historical meanings for poets writing in English by the middle of the nineteenth century. The ballad and song revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century reawakened interest not only in traditional ballads, but in non-narrative songs, both popular and elite – particularly the songs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For poets writing in the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, song, in the literary sense, was an inherited tradition exercising a strong countering pressure against the temptation to regard all lyric poems as first-person expressions of subjective feeling.
|Heart-Sick: The Language of French Disgust
The rhetoric of revulsion has shaped French cultural modernity. This article examines salient forms of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literary disgust, then turns to “écśurement” (“heart-sickness”) as a contemporary case study. Ecśurement is key to the work of philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy and novelist and playwright Marie NDiaye. These thinkers embrace heart-sickness as a state of exposure that unsettles discourses of philosophical mastery and practices of social refinement. The article thus shows that the language of disgust is not necessarily reactionary and nostalgic—as has often been argued—but also enables new forms of collective resistance and attachment.
|Matthew J Smith
|Paul A. Kottman, Love as Human Freedom
|Peggy McCracken, In the Skin of a Beast: Sovereignty and Animality in Medieval France
|Vivian R. Pollak, Our Emily Dickinsons: American Women Poets and the Intimacies of Difference
|Paul Jaussen, Writing in Real Time: Emergent Poetics from Whitman to the Digital
|Nicolai Volland, Socialist Cosmopolitanism: The Chinese Literary Universe, 1945-1965
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430