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Books on Trial from "Madame Bovary" to "Lolita"
In Dirt for Art's Sake, Elisabeth Ladenson recounts the most visible of modern obscenity trials involving scandalous books and their authors. What, she asks, do these often-colorful legal histories have to tell us about the works themselves and about a changing cultural climate that first treated them as filth and later celebrated them as masterpieces?
Ladenson's narrative starts with Madame Bovary (Flaubert was tried in France in 1857) and finishes with Fanny Hill (written in the eighteenth century, put on trial in the United States in 1966); she considers, along the way, Les Fleurs du Mal, Ulysses, The Well of Loneliness, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer, Lolita, and the works of the Marquis de Sade. Over the course of roughly a century, Ladenson finds, two ideas that had been circulating in the form of avant-garde heresy gradually became accepted as truisms, and eventually as grounds for legal defense. The first is captured in the formula "art for art's sake"-the notion that a work of art exists in a realm independent of conventional morality. The second is realism, vilified by its critics as "dirt for dirt's sake." In Ladenson's view, the truth of the matter is closer to -dirt for art's sake-"the idea that the work of art may legitimately include the representation of all aspects of life, including the unpleasant and the sordid.
Ladenson also considers cinematic adaptations of these novels, among them Vincente Minnelli's Madame Bovary, Stanley Kubrick's Lolita and the 1997 remake directed by Adrian Lyne, and various attempts to translate de Sade's works and life into film, which faced similar censorship travails. Written with a keen awareness of ongoing debates about free speech, Dirt for Art's Sake traces the legal and social acceptance of controversial works with critical acumen and delightful wit.
A Dialogue Between Writers and Readers
This lively and diverse bilingual collection of essays by writers and critics examines contemporary Canadian literary arts. The perspectives range from highly personal and introspective to scholarly and objective, yet each adds significantly to an understanding of the dialogue between writers and readers. Proceedings from a workshop held at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities during the summer of 1982, the volume includes such contributors as E.D. Blodgett, Jacques Brault, Richard Giguère, D.G. Jones, Myrna Kostash, Peter Stevens, Aritha van Herk, and Christopher Wiseman.
The collection will naturally be of interest to any student of Canadian literature, but the essays also forcefully address, both explicitly and implicitly, the question of a nationalism of the arts, an issue of great importance to performers and critics in many fields.
Written by experts in the field, the essays in this volume examine the early Christian book from a wide range of disciplines: religion, art history, history, Near Eastern studies, and classics.
English in Print from Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton examines the history of early English books, exploring the concept of putting the English language into print with close study of the texts, the formats, the audiences, and the functions of English books. Lavishly illustrated with more than 130 full-color images of stunning rare books, this volume investigates a full range of issues regarding the dissemination of English language and culture through printed works, including the standardization of typography, grammar, and spelling; the appearance of popular literature; and the development of school grammars and dictionaries. Valerie Hotchkiss and Fred C. Robinson provide engaging descriptions of more than a hundred early English books drawn from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the Elizabethan Club of Yale University. The study nearly mirrors the chronological parameters of Pollard and Redgraves famous Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640), beginning with William Caxton, Englands first printer, and ending with John Milton, the English languages most eloquent defender of the freedom of the press. William Shakespeare earns his central place in this study because Shakespeare imprints, and Renaissance drama in general, provide a fascinating window on English printing in the period between Caxton and Milton.
Books and the Popularization of Knowledge
Over the past fifty years, knowledge of the natural world, history, and human behavior has expanded dramatically. What has been learned in the academy has become part of political discourse, sermons, and everyday conversation. The dominant medium for transferring knowledge from universities to the public is popularization—books of serious nonfiction that make complex ideas and information accessible to nonexperts. Such writers as Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Daniel Boorstin, and Robert Coles have attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. As fields such as biology, physics, history, and psychology have changed the ways we view ourselves and our place in the universe, popularization has played an essential role in helping us to understand our world. Expanding the American Mind begins by comparing fiction and nonfiction—their relative respectability in the eyes of reading experts and in the opinions of readers themselves. It then traces the roots of popularization from the Middle Ages to the present, examining changes in literacy, education, and university politics. Focusing on the period since World War II, it examines the ways that curricular reform has increased interest in popularization as well as the impact of specialization and professionalization among the faculty. It looks at the motivations of academic authors and the risks and rewards that come from writing for a popular audience. It also explains how experts write for nonexperts—the rhetorical devices they use and the voices in which they communicate. Beth Luey also looks at the readers of popularizations—their motivations for reading, the ways they evaluate nonfiction, and how they choose what to read. This is the first book to use surveys and online reader responses to study nonfiction reading. It also compares the experience of reading serious nonfiction with that of reading other genres. Using publishers’ archives and editor-author correspondence, Luey goes on to examine what editors, designers, and marketers in this very competitive business do to create and sell popularizations to the largest audience possible. In a brief afterword she discusses popularization and the Web. The result is a highly readable and engaging survey of this distinctive genre of writing.
The Rhetoric of Failure and the Making of American Modernism
From Herman Melville's claim that "failure is the true test of greatness" to Henry Adams's self-identification with the "mortifying failure in [his] long education" and William Faulkner's eagerness to be judged by his "splendid failure to do the impossible," the rhetoric of failure has served as a master trope of modernist American literary expression. David Ball's magisterial study addresses the fundamental questions of language, meaning, and authority that run counter to well-rehearsed claims of American innocence and positivity, beginning with the American Renaissance and extending into modernist and contemporary literature. The rhetoric of failure was used at various times to engage artistic ambition, the arrival of advanced capitalism, and a rapidly changing culture, not to mention sheer exhaustion. False Starts locates a lively narrative running through American literature that consequently queries assumptions about the development of modernism in the United States.
Texts, Performances, and Audiences from Codex to Computer
In this provocative work, Roger Chartier continues his extraordinarily influential consideration of the forms of production, dissemination, and interpretation of discourse in Early Modern Europe. Chartier here examines the relationship between patronage and the market, and explores how the form in which a text is transmitted not only constrains the production of meaning but defines and constructs its audience.
Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century
The start of the twenty-first century has brought with it a rich variety of ways in which readers can connect with one another, access texts, and make sense of what they are reading. At the same time, new technologies have also opened up exciting possibilities for scholars of reading and reception in offering them unprecedented amounts of data on reading practices, book buying patterns, and book collecting habits. In From Codex to Hypertext, scholars from multiple disciplines engage with both of these strands. This volume includes essays that consider how changes such as the mounting ubiquity of digital technology and the globalization of structures of publication and book distribution are shaping the way readers participate in the encoding and decoding of textual meaning. Contributors also examine how and why reading communities cohere in a range of contexts, including prisons, book clubs, networks of zinesters, state-funded programs designed to promote active citizenship, and online spaces devoted to sharing one’s tastes in books. As concerns circulate in the media about the ways that reading—for so long anchored in print culture and the codex—is at risk of being irrevocably altered by technological shifts, this book insists on the importance of tracing the historical continuities that emerge between these reading practices and those of previous eras. In addition to the volume editor, contributors include Daniel Allington, Bethan Benwell, Jin Feng, Ed Finn, Danielle Fuller, David S. Miall, Julian Pinder, Janice Radway, Julie Rak, DeNel Rehberg Sedo, Megan Sweeney, Joan Bessman Taylor, Molly Abel Travis, and David Wright.
as well as providing a commentary on his novels, plays, and short stories, this book sets Gombrowicz's writing in the context of contemporary cultural theory. The author performs a detailed examination of Gombrowicz's major literary and theatrical work, showing how his conception of form is highly resonant with contemporary, postmodern theories of identity.
Many scholars have written about the white readers and patrons of the Harlem Renaissance, but during the period many black writers, publishers, and editors worked to foster a cadre of African American readers, or in the poet Sterling Brown’s words, a “reading folk.” Black newspapers featured columns that reviewed the latest African American fiction. Magazines held writing contests to urge black readers to participate in the literary culture. Through newspapers, journals, and anthologies, writers such as James Weldon Johnson, Jessie Fauset, and Gwendolyn Bennett spoke directly to their fellow African Americans to cultivate interest in literature and the intellectual tools for reading it. In The Harlem Renaissance and the Idea of a New Negro Reader, Shawn Anthony Christian argues that print-based addresses to African Americans are a defining but understudied component of the Harlem Renaissance. Especially between 1919 and 1930, these writers promoted diverse racial representation as a characteristic of “good literature” both to exhibit black literacy and to foster black readership. Drawing on research from print culture studies, histories of racial uplift, and studies of modernism, Christian demonstrates the importance of this focus on the African American reader in influential periodicals such as The Crisis and celebrated anthologies such as The New Negro. Christian illustrates that the drive to develop and support black readers was central in the poetry, fiction, and drama of the era.