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Congress, State Legislatures, and the Future of Legislative Studies
Although legislative studies is thriving, it suffers from one glaring weakness: a lack of truly comparative, cross-institutional research. Instead, research focuses overwhelmingly on the U.S. Congress. This unfortunate fixation limits the way scholars approach the testing of many compelling theories of legislative organization and behavior, and it ignores the invaluable research possibilities that comparison with the 99 American state legislative chambers offers. State legislatures are easily compared to Congress: They arise out of the same political culture and history. Their members represent the same parties and face the same voters in the same elections using the same rules. And the functions and roles are the same, with each fully capable of initiating, debating, and passing legislation. None of the methodological problems found when comparing presidential system legislatures with parliamentary system legislatures arise when comparing Congress and the state legislatures. However, while there are great similarities, there are also important differences that provide scholars leverage for rigorously testing theories. The book compares and contrasts Congress and the state legislatures on histories, fundamental structures, institutional and organizational characteristics, and members. By highlighting the vast array of organizational schemes and behavioral patterns evidenced in state legislatures, the authors demonstrate that the potential for the study of American legislatures, as opposed to the separate efforts of Congressional and state legislative scholars, is too great to leave unexplored.
Transnational Theater, Literature, and Film in Contemporary Germany
The contemporary moment has been described in terms of both a “narrative” and a “performative turn,” but the overlap between these two has largely escaped attention. This curious gap is explained by the ways in which scholars across the humanities have defined narrative and performance as opposite forces, emphasizing their respective affiliations with time vs. space and identity constitution vs. its undoing. Although the opposition has been acknowledged as false by many in this simple form, its shifting instantiations continue to shape the ways we make sense of the arts as well as society. Instead, An Aesthetics of Narrative Performance: Transnational Theater, Literature, and Film in Contemporary Germany by Claudia Breger maps the complexities of imaginative worldmaking in contemporary culture through an aesthetics of narrative performance: an ensemble of techniques exploring the interplay of rupture and recontextualization in the process of configuration. Interlacing diverging definitions of both narrative and performance, the study outlines two clusters of such techniques—scenic narration and narrative “presencing” in performance vs. forms of narrative theatricalization—and analyzes the cultural work they do in individual works in three different media: literature, film, and theater. These readings focus on the rich configurations of contemporary worldmaking “at location Germany.” In the discussed representations of German unification, contemporary cultures of migration, and the transnational War on Terror, the aesthetics of narrative performance finds its identity as a multifaceted imaginative response to the post/modern crisis of narrative authority.
The Victorian Novel and the Stock-Market Graph
What do the Victorian novel and the stock-market graph have in common? In The Affective Life of the Average Man: The Victorian Novel and the Stock-Market Graph, ,, Audrey Jaffe explores the influence on modern subjectivity of an economic and emotional discourse constructed by both the Victorian novel and the stock market. The book shows how the novel and the market define character as fundamentally vicarious, and how the graphs, tickers, and pulses that represent the stock market function for us, as the novel did for the Victorians, as both representation and source of collective expectations and emotions. A rereading of key Victorian texts, this volume is also a rereading of the relation between Victorian and contemporary culture, describing the way contemporary accounts of such phenomena as frauds, bubbles, and the economics of happiness reproduce Victorian narratives and assumptions about character. Jaffe draws on the work of nineteenth- and twentieth-century economic and political theorists, popular discourse about the stock market, and novelistic representations of emotion and identity to offer new readings of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Anthony Trollope’s The Prime Minister, and Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield and Little Dorrit. Charting a new understanding of the relation between money, emotions, and identity, The Affective Life of the Average Man makes a significant contribution to Victorian studies, economic criticism, and the study of the history and representation of emotion.
Writing in true social history tradition, William W. Giffin presents a magisterial study of African Americans focusing on times that saw the culmination of trends that were fundamentally important in shaping the twentieth century. While many scholars have examined African Americans in the South and such large cities as New York and Chicago during this time, other important urban areas have been ignored. Ohio, with its large but very different urban centers—notably, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati—provides Giffin with the wealth of statistical data and qualitative material that he uses to argue that the “color line” in Ohio hardened during this time period as the Great Migration gained force. His data show, too, that the color line varied according to urban area—it hardened progressively as one traveled South in the state. In addition, whereas previous studies have concentrated on activism at the national level through such groups as the NAACP, Giffin shows how African American men and women in Ohio constantly negotiated the color line on a local level, through both resistance and accommodation on a daily and very interpersonal level with whites, other blacks, and people of different ethnic, class, and racial backgrounds. This early grassroots resistance provided the groundwork for the Civil Rights movement that would gain momentum some twenty years later. This analysis of the Ohio color line speaks to those historians who still are inclined to discuss Jim Crow as a wholly southern phenomenon. It indicates that the color line in the North was not uniform and provides further evidence of the importance of locale and local people in African American history. At the same time, it offers stories of inherent interest revealing human conduct at its best and worst.
A Microparametric Account
In this important new study, Sandro Sessarego provides a syntactic description of the Afro-Bolivian Spanish determiner phrase. Afro-Bolivian Spanish is one of the many Afro-Hispanic dialects spoken across Latin America and, from a theoretical point of view, is rich in constructions that would be considered ungrammatical in standard Spanish. Yet these constructions form the core grammar of these less-prestigious, but equally efficient, syntactic systems. Because of the wide variety of their usages, Sessarego’s study of these contact varieties is particularly valuable in developing and refining theories of syntactic microvariation. This dialect presents phenomena that offer a real challenge to current linguistic theory. The Afro-Bolivian Spanish Determiner Phrase elaborates on the importance of enhancing a stronger dialogue between formal generative theory and sociolinguistic methodology, in line with recent work in the field of minimalist syntax. Sessarego’s study combines sociolinguistic techniques of data collection with generative models of data analysis to obtain more fine-grained, empirically testable generalizations.
The Ethics and Aesthetics of Holocaust Narrative for the Future
After Testimony: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Holocaust Narrative for the Future collects sixteen essays written with the awareness that we are on the verge of a historical shift in our relation to the Third Reich’s programmatic genocide. Soon there will be no living survivors of the Holocaust, and therefore people not directly connected to the event must assume the full responsibility for representing it. The contributors believe that this shift has broad consequences for narratives of the Holocaust. By virtue of being “after” the accounts of survivors, storytellers must find their own ways of coming to terms with the historical reality that those testimonies have tried to communicate. The ethical and aesthetic dimensions of these stories will be especially crucial to their effectiveness. Guided by these principles and employing the tools of contemporary narrative theory, the contributors analyze a wide range of Holocaust narratives—fictional and nonfictional, literary and filmic—for the dual purpose of offering fresh insights and identifying issues and strategies likely to be significant in the future. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan, Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Anniken Greve, Jeremy Hawthorn, Marianne Hirsch, Irene Kacandes, Phillipe Mesnard, J. Hillis Miller, Michael Rothberg, Beatrice Sandberg, Anette H. Storeide, Anne Thelle, and Janet Walker.
Literature and Culture in Britain, 1815-1885
“The burden of the past” invoked by any discussion of eclecticism is a familiar aspect of modernity, particularly in the history of literature. The Age of Eclecticism: Literature and Culture in Britain, 1815–1885 by Christine Bolus-Reichert aims to reframe that dynamic and to place it in a much broader context by examining the rise of a manifold eclecticism in the nineteenth century. Bolus-Reichert focuses on two broad understandings of eclecticism in the period—one understood as an unreflective embrace of either conflicting beliefs or divergent historical styles, the other a mode of critical engagement that ultimately could lead to a rethinking of the contrast between creation and criticism and of the very idea of the original. She also contributes to the emerging field of transnational Victorian studies and, in doing so, finds a way to talk about a broader, post-Romantic nineteenth-century culture. By reviving eclecticism as a critical term, Bolus-Reichert historicizes the theoretical language available to us for describing how Victorian culture functioned—in order to make the terrain of Victorian scholarship international and comparative and create a place for the Victorians in the genealogy of postmodernism. The Age of Eclecticism gives Victorianists—and other students of nineteenth-century literature and culture—a new perspective on familiar debates that intersect in crucial ways with issues still relevant to literature in an age of multiculturalism and postmodernism.
Melancholy in Victorian Poetry
Perhaps because major Victorians like Thomas Carlyle and Matthew Arnold proscribed Romantic melancholy as morbidly diseased and unsuitable for poetic expression, critics have neglected or understated the central importance of melancholy in Victorian poetry. Allegories of One’s Own Mind re-directs our attention to a mode that Arnold was rejecting as morbid but also acknowledging when he disparaged the widely current idea that the highest ambition of poetry should be to present an allegory of the poet’s own mind. This book shows how early Victorian poets suffered from and railed against what they perceived to be a “disabling post-Wordsworthian melancholy”—we might refer to it as depression—and yet benefited from this self-absorbed or love-obsessed state, which ironically made them more productive. David G. Riede argues that the dominant thematic and formal concerns of the age, in fact, are embodied in the ambivalence of Carlyle, Arnold, and others, who pitted a Victorian ideology of duty, rationality, and high moral character against a still compelling Romantic cultivation of the deep self intuited as melancholy. Such ambivalence, in fact, is in itself constitutive of melancholy, long understood as the product of conscience raging against inchoate desire, and it constitutes the mood of the age’s most important poetry, represented here in the major works of Alfred Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and even in the notoriously “optimistic” Robert Browning.
Nationalisms, Terror, and the State in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland
Alter-Nations: Nationalisms, Terror, and the State in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland investigates how Victorian cultural production on both sides of the Irish Sea grappled with the complex relationship between British imperial nationalism and Irish anticolonial nationalism. In the process, this study reconceptualizes the history of modern nationhood in Britain and Ireland. Taking as its archive political theory, polemical prose, novels, political cartoons, memoir, and newspaper writings, Amy E. Martin’s Alter-Nations examines the central place of Irish anticolonial nationalism in Victorian culture and provides a new genealogy of categories such as “nationalism” “terror,” and “the state.” In texts from Britain and Ireland, we can trace the emergence of new narratives of Irish immigration, racial difference, and Irish violence as central to capitalist national crisis in nineteenth-century Britain. In visual culture and newspaper writing of the 1860s, the modern idea of “terrorism” as irrational and racialized anticolonial violence first comes into being. This new ideology of terrorism finds its counterpart in Victorian theorizations of the modern hegemonic state form, which justify the state’s monopoly of violence by imagining its apparatuses as specifically anti-terrorist. At the same time, Irish Fenian writings articulate anticolonial critique that anticipates the problematics of postcolonial studies and attempts to reimagine in generative and radical ways anticolonialism’s relation to modernity and the state form. By so doing, Alter-Nations argues for the centrality of Irish studies to postcolonial and Victorian studies, and reconceptualizes the boundaries and concerns of those fields.
Life is a mystery, a puzzle, “a house of inscrutable signals,” leaving us “often stranded in the middle of a feeling.” With exquisite manipulation of language, the poems in Kary Wayson’s collection, American Husband, seek to unravel the mystery and solve the puzzle by parsing everyday experiences—observing life while lying about on the couch, on the floor, in bed and out—and everyday relationships—between the self and the mother, the self and the father, the self and the lover, the self and the self, and the self and god. English, “the telephone and the telephone book and the table with one vase and the cut rose,” is the means through which Wayson, drawing not only on her own wisdom but also on that of Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Shajahana, Mother Goose, Federico García Lorca, Edward Gorey, and others, enacts intersections between self and meaning. At each intersection, love’s loneliness forms and dissolves, expands and contracts, and then passes much like weather, or the mysterious changeable relationship between silence and words. Wayson may feel that she lives “with a desk where nothing gets done,” but with every poem she finds “some nook or cranny to plumb, some crook or nanny dumb enough to tell them what,” and another puzzle piece falls in place.