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Action Writing

Jack Kerouac's Wild Form

Michael Hrebeniak

Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form connects the personal and creative development of the Beat generation's famous icon with cultural changes in postwar America. Michael Hrebeniak asserts that Jack Kerouac's "wild form"—self-organizing narratives free of literary, grammatical, and syntactical conventions—moves within an experimental continuum across the arts to generate a Dionysian sense of writing as raw process. Action Writing highlights how Kerouac made concrete his 1952 intimation of "something beyond the novel" by assembling ideas from Beat America, modernist poetics, action painting, bebop, and subterranean oral traditions.

Geared to scholars and students of American literature, Beat studies, and creative writing, Action Writing places Kerouac's writing within the context of the American art scene at midcentury. Reframing the work of Kerouac and the Beat generation within the experimental modernist and postmodernist literary tradition, this probing inquiry offers a direct engagement with the social and cultural history at the foreground of Kerouac's career from the 1940s to the late 1960s.

 

 

 

 

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Active Romanticism

The Radical Impulse in Nineteenth-Century and Contemporary Poetic Practice

Edited by Julie Carr and Jeffrey C. Robinson

Literary history generally locates the primary movement toward poetic innovation in twentieth-century modernism, an impulse carried out against a supposedly enervated “ late-Romantic” poetry of the nineteenth century. The original essays in Active Romanticism challenge this interpretation by tracing the fundamental continuities between Romanticism’ s poetic and political radicalism and the experimental movements in poetry from the late-nineteenth-century to the present day.
 
According to editors July Carr and Jeffrey C. Robinson, “ active romanticism” is a poetic response, direct or indirect, to pressing social issues and an attempt to redress forms of ideological repression; at its core, “ active romanticism” champions democratic pluralism and confronts ideologies that suppress the evidence of pluralism. “ Poetry fetter’ d, fetters the human race,” declared poet William Blake at the beginning of the nineteenth century. No other statement from the era of the French Revolution marks with such terseness the challenge for poetry to participate in the liberation of human society from forms of inequality and invisibility. No other statement insists so vividly that a poetic event pushing for social progress demands the unfettering of traditional, customary poetic form and language.
 
Bringing together work by well-known writers and critics, ranging from scholarly studies to poets’ testimonials, Active Romanticism shows Romantic poetry not to be the sclerotic corpse against which the avant-garde reacted but rather the well-spring from which it flowed.
 
Offering a fundamental rethinking of the history of modern poetry, Carr and Robinson have grouped together in this collection a variety of essays that confirm the existence of Romanticism as an ongoing mode of poetic production that is innovative and dynamic, a continuation of the nineteenth-century Romantic tradition, and a form that reacts and renews itself at any given moment of perceived social crisis.

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Activism and the American Novel

Religion and Resistance in Fiction by Women of Color

Channette Romero

Since the 1980s, many activists and writers have turned from identity politics toward ethnic religious traditions to rediscover and reinvigorate their historic role in resistance to colonialism and oppression. In her examination of contemporary fiction by women of color—including Toni Morrison, Ana Castillo, Toni Cade Bambara, Louise Erdrich, and Leslie Marmon Silko—Channette Romero considers the way these novels newly engage with Vodun, Santería, Candomblé, and American Indian traditions. Critical of a widespread disengagement from civic participation and of the contemporary novel’s disconnection from politics, this fiction attempts to transform the novel and the practice of reading into a means of political engagement and an inspiration for social change.

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Acts of Narrative Resistance

Women's Autobiographical Writings in the Americas

Laura J. Beard

This exploration of women's autobiographical writings in the Americas focuses on three specific genres: testimonio, metafiction, and the family saga as the story of a nation. What makes Laura J. Beard’s work distinctive is her pairing of readings of life narratives by women from different countries and traditions. Her section on metafiction focuses on works by Helena Parente Cunha, of Brazil, and Luisa Futoranksy, of Argentina; the family sagas explored are by Ana María Shua and Nélida Piñon, of Argentina and Brazil, respectively; and the section on testimonio highlights narratives by Lee Maracle and Shirley Sterling, from different Indigenous nations in British Columbia. In these texts Beard terms "genres of resistance," women resist the cultural definitions imposed upon them in an effort to speak and name their own experiences. The author situates her work in the context of not only other feminist studies of women's autobiographies but also the continuing study of inter-American literature that is demanding more comparative and cross-cultural approaches.

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Acts of Recognition

Essays on Medieval Culture

Lee Patterson

This volume brings together Lee Patterson’s essays published in various venues over the past twenty-seven years. As he observes in his preface, “The one persistent recognition that emerged from writing these otherwise quite disparate essays is that whatever the text . . . and whoever the people . . ., the values at issue remain central to contemporary life.” Two dialectics are at work in this book: that between the past and the present and that between the individual and the social, and both have moral significance. The first two chapters are methodological; the first is on the historical understanding of medieval literature and the second on how to manage the inseparability of fact and value in the classroom. The next three chapters take up three “less-read” late medieval writers: Sir John Clanvowe, Thomas Hoccleve, and John Lydgate. Each is used to illuminate a social phenomenon: the nature of court culture, the experience of the city, and Henry V’s act of self-making. The following chapter explicitly links past and present by arguing that the bearing of the English aristocrat comes from a tradition beginning with Beowulf and later reinvoked in response to nineteenth-century imperialism. The next three chapters are the most literary, dealing with Chaucer and with literary conventions in relation to a number of texts. The final chapter is on the man Patterson considers one of the most important of our medieval ancestors, Francis of Assisi.

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Adam Mickiewicz

The Life of a Romantic

Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), Poland's national poet, was one of the extraordinary personalities of the age. In chronicling the events of his life-his travels, numerous loves, a troubled marriage, years spent as a member of a heterodox religious sect, and friendships with such luminaries of the time as Aleksandr Pushkin, James Fenimore Cooper, George Sand, Giuseppe Mazzini, Margaret Fuller, and Aleksandr Herzen-Roman Koropeckyj draws a portrait of the Polish poet as a quintessential European Romantic.

Spanning five decades of one of the most turbulent periods in modern European history, Mickiewicz's life and works at once reflected and articulated the cultural and political upheavals marking post-Napoleonic Europe. After a poetic debut in his native Lithuania that transformed the face of Polish literature, he spent five years of exile in Russia for engaging in Polish "patriotic" activity. Subsequently, his grand tour of Europe was interrupted by his country's 1830 uprising against Russia; his failure to take part in it would haunt him for the rest of his life. For the next twenty years Mickiewicz shared the fate of other Polish émigrés in the West. It was here that he wrote Forefathers' Eve, part 3 (1832) and Pan Tadeusz (1834), arguably the two most influential works of modern Polish literature. His reputation as his country's most prominent poet secured him a position teaching Latin literature at the Academy of Lausanne and then the first chair of Slavic Literature at the Collége de France. In 1848 he organized a Polish legion in Italy and upon his return to Paris founded a radical French-language newspaper. His final days were devoted to forming a Polish legion in Istanbul.

This richly illustrated biography-the first scholarly biography of the poet to be published in English since 1911-draws extensively on diaries, memoirs, correspondence, and the poet's literary texts to make sense of a life as sublime as it was tragic. It concludes with a description of the solemn transfer of Mickiewicz's remains in 1890 from Paris to Cracow, where he was interred in the Royal Cathedral alongside Poland's kings and military heroes.

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Adam Usk's Secret

By Steven Justice

Adam Usk, a Welsh lawyer in England and Rome during the first years of the fifteenth century, lived a peculiar life. He was, by turns, a professor, a royal advisor, a traitor, a schismatic, and a spy. He cultivated and then sabotaged figures of great influence, switching allegiances between kings, upstarts, and popes at an astonishing pace. Usk also wrote a peculiar book: a chronicle of his own times, composed in a strangely anxious and secretive voice that seems better designed to withhold vital facts than to recount them. His bold starts tumble into anticlimax; he interrupts what he starts to tell and omits what he might have told. Yet the kind of secrets a political man might find safer to keep—the schemes and violence of regime change—Usk tells openly.

Steven Justice sets out to find what it was that Adam Usk wanted to hide. His search takes surprising turns through acts of political violence, persecution, censorship—and, ultimately, literary history. Adam Usk's narrow, eccentric literary genius calls into question some of the most casual and confident assumptions of literary criticism and historiography, making stale rhetorical habits seem new. Adam Usk's Secret concludes with a sharp challenge to historians over what they think they can know about literature and to literary scholars over what they think they can know about history.

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Addressing Postmodernity

Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric, and a Theory of Social Change

Written by Barbara Biesecker

Biesecker reveals the full range of Kenneth Burke's contribution to the possibility of social change.

In Addressing Postmodernity, Barbara Biesecker examines the relationship between rhetoric and social change and the ways human beings transform social relations through the purposeful use of symbols.  In discerning the conditions of possibility for social transformation and the role of human beings and rhetoric in it, Biesecker turns to the seminal work of Kenneth Burke.

Through a close reading of Burke's major works, A Grammar of Motives, A Rhetoric of Motives, and The Rhetoric of Religion:  Studies in Logology, Biesecker addresses the critical topic of the
fragmentation of the contemporary lifeworld. As Biesecker shows, postmodernity will have a major impact on Burkeian scholarship and on the rhetorical critique of social relations in general.

Biesecker confronts directly the challenges posed by postmodernity to social theorists and critics alike. In juxtaposing the work of Burke and Jurgen Habermas, Biesecker argues that a radicalized rereading of Burke's theory of the negative opens the way toward a resolutely rhetorical theory of social change and human agency.

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Adulterous Nations

Family Politics and National Anxiety in the European Novel

Tatiana Kuzmic

In Adulterous Nations, Tatiana Kuzmic enlarges our perspective on the nineteenth-century novel of adultery, showing how it often served as a metaphor for relationships between the imperialistic and the colonized. In the context of the long-standing practice of gendering nations as female, the novels under discussion here—George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest, and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, along with August Šenoa’s The Goldsmith’s Gold and Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis—can be understood as depicting international crises on the scale of the nuclear family. In each example, an outsider figure is responsible for the disruption experienced by the family. Kuzmic deftly argues that the hopes, anxieties, and interests of European nations during this period can be discerned in the destabilizing force of adultery. Reading the work of Šenoa and Sienkiewicz, from Croatia and Poland, respectively, Kuzmic illuminates the relationship between the literature of dominant nations and that of the semicolonized territories that posed a threat to them. Ultimately, Kuzmic’s study enhances our understanding of not only these five novels but nineteenth-century European literature more generally.

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Advanced Reader of Contemporary Chinese Short Stories

Reflections on Humanity

Compiled Ying Wang and Carrie E. Reed

This reader for advanced students of Chinese presents post-1990 short stories by Su Tong and Yu Hua (whose novels Raise the Red Lantern and To Live served as the basis for internationally acclaimed films), as well as Mianmian, Qui Shanshan, Liu Yunshen, Liang Xiaosheng, Xia Shang, Bi Feiyu, Lu Ping, and Wang Meng. Includes vocabulary lists, grammar and usage examples, and discussion questions.

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