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Literature > American Literature

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Arranging Grief Cover

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Arranging Grief

Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America

Dana Luciano

2008 Winner, MLA First Book Prize

Charting the proliferation of forms of mourning and memorial across a century increasingly concerned with their historical and temporal significance, Arranging Grief offers an innovative new view of the aesthetic, social, and political implications of emotion. Dana Luciano argues that the cultural plotting of grief provides a distinctive insight into the nineteenth-century American temporal imaginary, since grief both underwrote the social arrangements that supported the nation’s standard chronologies and sponsored other ways of advancing history.

Nineteenth-century appeals to grief, as Luciano demonstrates, diffused modes of "sacred time" across both religious and ostensibly secular frameworks, at once authorizing and unsettling established schemes of connection to the past and the future. Examining mourning manuals, sermons, memorial tracts, poetry, and fiction by Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Apess, James Fenimore Cooper, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Susan Warner, Harriet E. Wilson, Herman Melville, Frances E. W. Harper, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Luciano illustrates the ways that grief coupled the affective body to time. Drawing on formalist, Foucauldian, and psychoanalytic criticism, Arranging Grief shows how literary engagements with grief put forth ways of challenging deep-seated cultural assumptions about history, progress, bodies, and behaviors.

Art and Craft Cover

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Art and Craft

Thirty Years on the Literary Beat

Bill Thompson

Art and Craft presents the hand-picked fruit of Bill Thompson’s three decades covering writers and writing as book review editor of Charleston, South Carolina’s Post and Courier. Beginning with a foreword by Charleston novelist Josephine Humphreys, this collection is a compendium of interviews featuring some of the most distinguished novelists and nonfiction writers in America and abroad, including Tom Wolfe, Pat Conroy, Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Bragg, and Anthony Bourdain, as well as many South Carolinians. With ten thematic chapters ranging from the Southern Renaissance, literature, biography, and travel writing to crime fiction and Civil War history, Art and Craft also includes a sampling of Thompson’s reviews. Featuring: Jack Bass, Rick Bragg, Roy Blount, Jr., Robin Cook, Pat Conroy, Patricia Cornwell, Dorothea Benton Frank, Herb Frazier, Sue Grafton, Carl Hiaasen, Sue Monk Kidd, Brian Lamb, Bret Lott, Jill McCorkle, James McPherson, Mary Alice Monroe, Joyce Carol Oates, Carl Reiner, Dori Sanders, Charles Seabrook, Anne Rivers Siddons, Lee Smith, Mickey Spillane, Paul Theroux, Tom Wolfe

The Art and Life of Clarence Major Cover

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The Art and Life of Clarence Major

Keith E. Byerman

Clarence Major is an award-winning painter, fiction writer, and poet—as well as an essayist, editor, anthologist, lexicographer, and memoirist. He has been part of twenty-eight group exhibitions, has had fifteen one-man shows, and has published fourteen collections of poetry and nine works of fiction. The Art and Life of Clarence Major is the first critical biography of this innovative African American writer and visual artist. Given the full cooperation of his subject, Keith E. Byerman traces Major's life and career from his complex family history in Georgia through his encounters with important literary and artistic figures in Chicago and New York to his present status as a respected writer, artist, teacher, and scholar living in California.

In his introduction, Byerman asks, “How does a black man who does not take race as his principal identity, an artist who deliberately defies mainstream rules, a social and cultural critic who wants to be admired by the world he attacks, and a creator who refuses to commit to one expressive form make his way in the world?” Tasking himself with opening up the multiple layers of problems and solutions in both the work and the life to consider the successes and the failures, Byerman reveals Major as one who has devoted himself to a life of experimental art that has challenged both literary and painterly practice and the conventional understanding of the nature of African American art. Major's refusal to follow the rules has challenged readers and critics, but through it all, he has continued to produce quality work as a painter, poet, and novelist. His is the life of someone totally devoted to his creative work, one who has put his artistic vision ahead of fame, wealth, and sometimes even family.

A Sarah Mills Hodge Fund Publication.

Art Matters Cover

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Art Matters

Hemingway, Craft, and the Creation of the Modern Short Story

Robert Paul Lamb

In Art Matters, Robert Paul Lamb provides the definitive study of Ernest Hemingway’s short story aesthetics. Lamb locates Hemingway’s art in literary historical contexts and explains what he learned from earlier artists, including Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Cézanne, Henry James, Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Stephen Crane, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound. Examining how Hemingway developed this inheritance, Lamb insightfully charts the evolution of the unique style and innovative techniques that would forever change the nature of short fiction. Art Matters opens with an analysis of the authorial effacement Hemingway learned from Maupassant and Chekhov, followed by fresh perspectives on the author’s famous use of concision and omission. Redefining literary impressionism and expressionism as alternative modes for depicting modern consciousness, Lamb demonstrates how Hemingway and Willa Cather learned these techniques from Crane and made them the foundation of their respective aesthetics. After examining the development of Hemingway’s art of focalization, he clarifies what Hemingway really learned from Stein and delineates their different uses of repetition. Turning from techniques to formal elements, Art Matters anatomizes Hemingway’s story openings and endings, analyzes how he created an entirely unprecedented role for fictional dialogue, explores his methods of characterization, and categorizes his settings in the fifty-three stories that comprise his most important work in the genre. A major contribution to Hemingway scholarship and to the study of modernist fiction, Art Matters shows exactly how Hemingway’s craft functions and argues persuasively for the importance of studies of articulated technique to any meaningful understanding of fiction and literary history. The book also develops vital new ways of understanding the short story genre as Lamb constructs a critical apparatus for analyzing the short story, introduces to a larger audience ideas taken from practicing storywriters, theorists, and critics, and coins new terms and concepts that enrich our understanding of the field.

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Arthur Miller's America

Theater and Culture in a Time of Change

Enoch Brater, Editor

Perspectives on America's greatest living playwright that explore his longstanding commitment to forging a uniquely American theater Arthur Miller's America collects new writing by leading international critics and scholars that considers the dramatic world of icon, activist, and playwright Arthur Miller's theater as it reflects the changing moral equations of his time. Written on the occasion of Miller's 85th year, the original essays and interviews in Arthur Miller's America treat the breadth of Miller's work, including his early political writings for the campus newspaper at the University of Michigan, his famous work with John Huston, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe on The Misfits, and his signature plays like Death of a Salesman and All My Sons.

Artifacts and Illuminations Cover

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Artifacts and Illuminations

Critical Essays on Loren Eiseley

Tom Lynch

Loren Eiseley (1907–77) is one of the most important American nature writers of the twentieth century and an admired practitioner of creative nonfiction. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, Eiseley was a professor of anthropology and a prolific writer and poet who worked to bring an understanding of science to the general public, incorporating religion, philosophy, and science into his explorations of the human mind and the passage of time.

As a writer who bridged the sciences and the humanities, Eiseley is a challenge for scholars locked into rigid disciplinary boundaries. Artifacts and Illuminations, the first full-length collection of critical essays on the writing of Eiseley, situates his work in the genres of creative nonfiction and nature writing. The contributing scholars apply a variety of critical approaches, including ecocriticism and place-oriented studies ranging across prairie, urban, and international contexts. Contributors explore such diverse topics as Eiseley’s use of anthropomorphism and Jungian concepts and examine how his work was informed by synecdoche. Long overdue, this collection demonstrates Eiseley’s continuing relevance as both a skilled literary craftsman and a profound thinker about the human place in the natural world.

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Artistic Ambassadors

Literary and International Representation of the New Negro Era

Brian Russell Roberts

During the first generation of black participation in U.S. diplomacy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a vibrant community of African American writers and cultural figures worked as U.S. representatives abroad. Through the literary and diplomatic dossiers of figures such as Frederick Douglass, James Weldon Johnson, Archibald and Angelina Grimké, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida Gibbs Hunt, and Richard Wright, Brian Roberts shows how the intersection of black aesthetic trends and U.S. political culture both Americanized and internationalized the trope of the New Negro. This decades-long relationship began during the days of Reconstruction, and it flourished as U.S. presidents courted and rewarded their black voting constituencies by appointing black men as consuls and ministers to such locales as Liberia, Haiti, Madagascar, and Venezuela. These appointments changed the complexion of U.S. interactions with nations and colonies of color; in turn, state-sponsored black travel gave rise to literary works that imported international representation into New Negro discourse on aesthetics, race, and African American culture.

Beyond offering a narrative of the formative dialogue between black transnationalism and U.S. international diplomacy, Artistic Ambassadors also illuminates a broader literary culture that reached both black and white America as well as the black diaspora and the wider world of people of color. In light of the U.S. appointments of its first two black secretaries of state and the election of its first black president, this complex representational legacy has continued relevance to our understanding of current American internationalism.

Artistic Liberties Cover

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Artistic Liberties

American Literary Realism and Graphic Illustration, 1880-1905

Artistic Liberties is a landmark study of the illustrations that originally accompanied now-classic works of American literary realism and the ways editors, authors, and illustrators vied for authority over the publications.

Though today, we commonly read major works of nineteenth-century American literature in unillustrated paperbacks or anthologies, many of them first appeared as magazine serials, accompanied by ample illustrations that sometimes made their way into the serials’ first printings as books. The graphic artists creating these illustrations often visually addressed questions that the authors had left for the reader to interpret, such as the complexions of racially ambiguous characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The artists created illustrations that depicted what outsiders saw in Huck and Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, rather than what Huck and Jim learned to see in one another. These artists even worked against the texts on occasion—for instance, when the illustrators reinforced the same racial stereotypes that writers such as Paul Laurence Dunbar had intended to subvert in their works.

Authors of American realism commonly submitted their writing to editors who allowed them little control over the aesthetic appearance of their work. In his groundbreaking Artistic Liberties, Adam Sonstegard studies the illustrations from these works in detail and finds that the editors employed illustrators who were often unfamiliar with the authors’ intentions and who themselves selected the literary material they wished to illustrate, thereby taking artistic liberties through the tableaux
they created.

Sonstegard examines the key role that the appointed artists played in visually shaping narratives—among them Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, Stephen Crane’s The Monster, and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth—as audiences tended to accept their illustrations as guidelines for understanding the texts. In viewing these works as originally published, received, and interpreted, Sonstegard offers a deeper knowledge not only of the works, but also of the realities surrounding publication during this formative period in American literature.

Asian American Plays for a New Generation Cover

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Asian American Plays for a New Generation

Plays for a New Generation

Edited by Josephine Lee, Don Eitel and R. A. Shiomi

Asian American plays provide an opportunity to think about how racial issues are engaged through theatrical performance physical contact, bodily labor, and fleshly desire as well as through the more standard elements of plot, setting, characterization, staging, music, and action.

Asian American Plays for a New Generation showcases seven exciting new plays that dramatize timely themes that are familiar to Asian Americans. The works variously address immigration, racism, stereotyping, identity, generational tensions, assimilation, and upward mobility as well as post-9/11 paranoia, racial isolation, and adoptee experiences.

Each of these works engages directly and actively with Asian American themes through performance to provide an important starting point for building relationships, raising political awareness, and creating active communities that can foster a sense of connection or even rally individuals to collective action.

Asian Diaspora and East-West Modernity Cover

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Asian Diaspora and East-West Modernity

by Sheng-mei Ma

Drawing from Anglo-American, Asian American, and Asian literature as well as J-horror and manga, Chinese cinema and Internet, and the Korean Wave, Sheng-mei Ma’s Asian Diaspora and East-West Modernity probes into the conjoinedness of West and East, of modernity’s illusion and nothing’s infinitude. Suspended on the stylistic tightrope between research and poetry, critical analysis and intuition, Asian Diaspora restores affect and heart to the experience of diaspora in between East and West, at-homeness and exilic attrition. Diaspora, by definition, stems as much from socioeconomic and collective displacement as it points to emotional reaction. This book thus challenges the fossilized conceptualizations in area studies, ontology, and modernism. The book's first two chapters trace the Asian pursuit of modernity into nothing, as embodied in horror film and the gaming motif in transpacific literature and film. Chapters three through eight focus on the borderlands of East and West, the edges of humanity and meaning. Ma examines how loss occasions a revisualization of Asia in children's books, how Asian diasporic passing signifies, paradoxically, both "born again" and demise of the "old" self, how East turns "yEast" or the agent of self-fashioning for Anglo-America, Asia, and Asian America, how the construct of “bugman” distinguishes modern West's and East's self-image, how the extreme human condition of "non-person" permeates the Korean Wave, and how manga artists are drawn to wartime Japan. The final two chapters interrogate the West's death-bound yet enlightening Orientalism in Anglo-American literature and China's own schizophrenic split, evidenced in the 2008 Olympic Games.

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