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North Africa, Victimization, and Colonial History
Cinema in an Age of Terror looks at how cinematic representations of colonial-era victimization inform our understanding of the contemporary age of terror. By examining works representing colonial history and the dynamics of spectatorship emerging from them, Michael F. O’Riley reveals how the centrality of victimization in certain cinematic representations of colonial history can help us understand how the desire to occupy the victim’s position is a dangerous and blinding drive that frequently plays into the vision of terrorism. Films such as The Battle of Algiers, Days of Glory, Caché, and recent works by Maghrebien filmmakers all exemplify, in different ways, how this focus on victimization can become a problematic perspective—one in fact seeking to occupy ideological territory. Their return of colonial history to our contemporary context, although frequently problematic, enables us to see how victimization is very much about territory—cultural, spatial, and ideological—and how resistance to new forms of imperialist warfare and terror today must be located outside these haunting images from colonial history. Although such images of victimization ultimately only return as spectacular acts that draw our attention away from the cyclical contest over territory that they embody, those images nonetheless have the last word. Michael F. O’Riley is an associate professor of French and Italian at Colorado College. He is the author of Francophone Culture and the Postcolonial Fascination with Ethnic Crimes and Colonial Aura and Postcolonial Haunting and Victimization: Assia Djebar’s New Novels.
Imaginary Cinemas in French Poetry
Cinepoetry analyzes how French poets have remapped poetry through the lens of cinema for more than a century. In showing how poets have drawn on mass culture, technology, and material images to incorporate the idea, technique, and experience of cinema into writing, Wall-Romana documents the long history of cross-media concepts and practices often thought to emerge with the digital.In showing the cinematic consciousness of Mallarm? and Breton and calling for a reappraisal of the influential poetry theory of the early filmmaker Jean Epstein, Cinepoetry reevaluates the bases of literary modernism. The book also explores the crucial link between trauma and trans-medium experiments in the wake of two world wars and highlights the marginal identity of cinepoets who were often Jewish, gay, foreign-born, or on the margins.What results is a broad rethinking of the relationship between film and literature. The episteme of cinema, the book demonstates, reached the very core of its supposedly highbrow rival, while at the same time modern poetry cultivated the technocultural savvy that is found today in slams, e-poetry, and poetic-digital hybrids.
Philosophy in the Narratives of Maurice Blanchot
Maurice Blanchot is perhaps best known as a major French intellectual of the twentieth century: the man who countered Sartre’s views on literature, who affirmed the work of Sade and Lautréamont, who gave eloquent voice to the generation of ’68, and whose philosophical and literary work influenced the writing of, among others, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel Foucault. He is also regarded as one of the most acute narrative writers in France since Marcel Proust. In Clandestine Encounters, Kevin Hart has gathered together major literary critics in Britain, France, and the United States to engage with Blanchot’s immense, fascinating, and difficult body of creative work. Hart’s substantial introduction usefully places Blanchot as a significant contributor to the tradition of the French philosophical novel, beginning with Voltaire’s Candide in 1759, and best known through the works of Sartre. Clandestine Encounters considers a selection of Blanchot’s narrative writings over the course of almost sixty years, from stories written in the mid-1930s to L’instant de ma mort (1994). Collectively, the contributors’ close readings of Blanchot’s novels, récits, and stories illuminate the close relationship between philosophy and narrative in his work while underscoring the variety and complexity of these narratives.
The Hidden Stories of Early Modern French Culture
Colonizer or Colonized introduces two colonial stories into the heart of France's literary and cultural history. The first describes elite France's conflicted relationship to the Ancient World. As much as French intellectuals aligned themselves with the Greco-Romans as an "us," they also resented the Ancients as an imperial "them," haunted by the memory that both the Greeks and Romans had colonized their ancestors, the Gauls. This memory put the elite on the defensive--defending against the legacy of this colonized past and the fear that they were the barbarian other. The second story mirrored the first. Just as the Romans had colonized the Gauls, France would colonize the New World, becoming the "New Rome" by creating a "New France." Borrowing the Roman strategy, the French Church and State developed an assimilationist stance towards the Amerindian "barbarian." This policy provided a foundation for what would become the nation's most basic stance towards the other. However, this version of assimilation, unlike its subsequent ones, encouraged the colonized and the colonizer to engage in close forms of contact, such as mixed marriages and communities. This book weaves these two different stories together in a triangulated dynamic. It asks the Ancients to step aside to include the New World other into a larger narrative in which elite France carved out their nation's emerging cultural identity in relation to both the New World and the Ancient World. Sara E. Melzer is Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of Discourses of the Fall: A Study of Pascal's Pensées and coeditor of From the Royal to the Republican Body: Incorporating the Political in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century France.
The Paris Commune and Its Cultural Aftermath
Nothing says more about a culture than the way it responds to deeply traumatic events. The Reign of Terror, America's Civil War, the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Kennedy assassination, September 11th-watershed moments such as these can be rich sounding boards for the cultural historian patient enough to tease out the traumatic event's complex cultural resonances.This book is about one such moment in the history of modern France. The so-called Terrible Year began with the French army's crushing defeat at Sedan and the fall of the Second Empire in September of 1870, followed by the Prussian occupation of France and first siege of Paris in the fall and winter of that year. But no event of the period proved so deeply traumatic as the Paris Commune of 1871 and the bloody reprisals that attended its demise.Commemorating Trauma engages the rich body of recent scholarly work on cultural trauma to examine a curious conundrum. Why do French literary, historical and philosophical texts written in the aftermath of the Paris Commune so often employ the trope of confusion (in both the phenomenal and cognitive senses of that term) to register and work through the historical traumas of the Terrible Year? And how might these representations of confusion both reflect and inflect the confusions inherent to an ongoing process of social upheaval evident in late nineteenth-century France-a process whose benchmarks include democratization and the blurring of social classes, a persistent and evolving revolutionism, radical reconfigurations of the city as lived environment, and the development of specifically capitalist logics of commerce? These are the two principal questions addressed in this important study of cultural memory.
Told in an elegant style, Jean de la Fontaines (1621-95) charming animal fables depict sly foxes and scheming cats, vain birds and greedy wolves, all of which subtly express his penetrating insights into French society and the beasts found in all of us. Norman R. Shapiro has been translating La Fontaines fables for over twenty years, capturing the original works lively mix of plain and archaic language. This newly complete translation is destined to set the English standard for this work
Volume 4: Athaliah
As Voltaire famously opined, Athaliah, Racine’s last play, is “perhaps the greatest masterwork of the human spirit.” Its formidable antagonists, Athaliah, queen of Judah, and Jehoiada, high priest of the temple of Jerusalem, are engaged in a deadly struggle for dominion: she, fiercely determined to maintain her throne and exterminate the detested race of David; he, no less fiercely determined to overthrow this heathen queen and enthrone the orphan Joash, the scion of the house of David, whom Athaliah believes she slew as an infant ten years earlier. This boy represents the sole hope for the survival of the royal race from which is to spring the Christ. But in this play, even God is more about hate and retribution than about love and mercy. This is the fourth volume of a projected translation into English of all twelve of Jean Racine’s plays—only the third time such a project has been undertaken. For this new translation, Geoffrey Alan Argent has rendered these plays in the verse form that Racine might well have used had he been English: namely, the “heroic” couplet. Argent has exploited the couplet’s compressed power and flexibility to produce a work of English literature, a verse drama as gripping in English as Racine’s is in French. Complementing the translation are the illuminating Discussion, intended as much to provoke discussion as to provide it, and the extensive Notes and Commentary, which offer their own fresh and thought-provoking insights.
Volume 3: Iphigenia
This is the third volume of a projected translation into English of all twelve of Jean Racine’s plays—only the third time such a project has been undertaken. For this new translation, Geoffrey Alan Argent has rendered these plays in the verse form that Racine might well have used had he been English: namely, the “heroic” couplet. Argent has exploited the couplet’s compressed power and flexibility to produce a work of English literature, a verse drama as gripping in English as Racine’s is in French. Complementing the translation are the illuminating Discussion, intended as much to provoke discussion as to provide it, and the extensive Notes and Commentary, which offer their own fresh and thought-provoking insights. In Iphigenia, his ninth play, Racine returns to Greek myth for the first time since Andromache. To Euripides’s version of the tale he adds a love interest between Iphigenia and Achilles. And dissatisfied with the earlier resolutions of the Iphigenia myth (her actual death or her eleventh-hour rescue by a dea ex machina), Racine creates a wholly original character, Eriphyle, who, in addition to providing an intriguing new denouement, serves the dual dramatic purpose of triangulating the love interest and galvanizing the wholesome “family values” of this play by a jolt of supercharged passion.
Volume 5: Britannicus
This is the fifth volume of a projected translation into English of all twelve of Jean Racine’s plays. Geoffrey Alan Argent’s translations faithfully convey all the urgency and keen psychological insight of Racine’s dramas, and the coiled strength of his verse, while breathing new vigor into the time-honored form of the “heroic” couplet. Complementing this translation are the Discussion and the Notes and Commentary—particularly detailed and extensive for this volume, Britannicus being by far Racine’s most historically informed play. Also noteworthy is Argent’s reinstatement of an eighty-two-line scene, originally intended to open Act III, that has never before appeared in an English translation of this play. Racine’s Britannicus dramatizes a day in the life of Emperor Nero that would eventually change the course of Roman history. Agrippina, the widow of the recently deceased emperor Claudius, has manipulated subsequent events so that her son, Nero, would succeed to the throne ahead of his stepbrother, and Rome’s true heir, Britannicus. In Nero, Racine has created a character who embodies, but also engenders, the infamous qualities of the Roman Empire: its cruelty, its depravity, its refined barbarity. Overcoming his mother, his wife, Octavia, his tutors, and his vaunted “three virtuous years,” Nero makes his move to demonstrate his omnipotence, destroying his innocent stepbrother.