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James Baldwin and the Law
James Baldwin, one of the major African American writers of the twentieth century, has been the subject of a substantial body of literary criticism. As a prolific and experimental author with a marginal perspective—a black man during segregation and the Civil Rights era, a homosexual at a time when tolerance toward gays was not common—Baldwin has fascinated readers for over half a century. Yet Baldwin’s critics have tended to separate his weighty, complex body of work and to examine it piecemeal. A Criminal Power: James Baldwin and the Law is the first thematic study to analyze the complete scope of his work. It accomplishes this through an expansive definition and thorough analysis of the social force that oppressed Baldwin throughout his life: namely, the law. Baldwin, who died in 1987, attempted suicide in 1949 at the age of 25 after spending eight-days in a French prison following an absurd arrest for “receiving stolen goods”—a sheet that his acquaintance had taken from a hotel. This seemingly trite incident made Baldwin painfully aware of what he would later call the law’s “criminal power.” Up to now, the only book-length studies to address Baldwin’s entire career have been biographies and artistic “portraits.” D. Quentin Miller corrects this oversight in a comprehensive volume that addresses and unifies all of Baldwin’s work. Miller asserts that the Baldwin corpus is a testament to how the abuse of power within the American legal, judicial, and penal systems manifested itself in the twentieth century.
Cosmopolitanism and the Indian Novel in English
Interrogating current theories of cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and aesthetics in Postcolonial Studies, Decentering Rushdie offers a new perspective on the Indian novel in English. Since Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981, its postmodern style and postnational politics have dominated discussions of postcolonial literature. As a result, the rich variety of narrative forms and perspectives on the nation that constitute the field have been obscured, if not erased altogether. Reading a range of novels published between the 1950s and 1990s, including works by Nayantara Sahgal, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, and Arundhati Roy, Decentering Rushdie suggests an alternative understanding of the genre in postcolonial India. Pranav Jani documents the broad shift from nation-oriented to postnationalist perspectives following the watershed crisis of the Emergency of the 1970s. Recovering the “namak-halaal cosmopolitanism” of early novels—a cosmopolitanism that is “true to its salt”—Decentering Rushdie also explains the rise and critical celebration of postnational cosmopolitanism. Decentering Rushdie thus resituates contemporary literature within a nuanced history of Indian debates about cosmopolitanism and the national question. In the process, Jani articulates definitions of cosmopolitanism and nationalism that speak to the complex negotiation of language, culture, and representation in postcolonial South Asia.
With a song-like voice and deep knowledge of the history and folklore of her native Virginia, Cary Holladay creates dazzling stories of hardship and ecstasy. A young widow romances a German immigrant while weighing a proposal from the colonial governor. Convicted of murdering her master, an enslaved woman is burned at the stake. A breakneck stagecoach ride gives a bricklayer’s apprentice the power to save or destroy his fellow passengers. An aging bachelor despairs of his marriage to a Confederate orphan. A beautiful adventuress joins the 1898 Alaska Gold Rush, charms a violent gangster, and figures out the secret of his fabulous wealth. This seventh book from an award-winning author spans 300 years in the Old Dominion. Holladay’s people fight the wars, battle the floods, and wrest a living from a wilderness where “Time is God’s, not ours”—so says a reformed prostitute whose obsessive love for an amnesiac Yankee soldier defines her life. With a sensuous, lyrical style, Holladay holds a distinctive place in contemporary fiction. All of these stories have appeared in major literary journals and anthologies, including Tin House and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best.
In Dickens’s Hyperrealism, John R. Reed examines certain features of Dickens’s style to demonstrate that the Inimitable consciously resisted what came to be known as realism in the genre of the novel. Dickens used some techniques associated with realism, such as description and metonymy, to subvert the purposes usually associated with it. Reed argues that Dickens used such devices as personification and present-tense narration, which are anathema to the realist approach. He asserts that Dickens preferred a heightened reality, not realism. And, unlike the realism which seeks to mask authorial control of how readers read his novels, Dickens wanted to demonstrate, first openly, and later in his career more subtly, his command over his narratives. This book opens a new avenue for investigating Dickens’s mastery of his art and his awareness of its literary context. In addition, it reopens the whole issue of realism as a definition and examines the variety of genres that coexisted in the Victorian period.
A Spectrum of Possibilities
Dickinson’s Fascicles: A Spectrum of Possibilities is the first collection of essays dedicated exclusively to re-examining Emily Dickinson’s fascicles, the extant forty hand-crafted manuscript “books” consisting of the roughly 814 poems crafted during the most productive period in Dickinson’s writing life (1858-1864). Why Dickinson carefully preserved the fascicles despite her meticulous destruction of many of her early manuscript drafts is the central question contributors to this volume seek to answer. The collection opens with a central portion of Sharon Cameron’s 1992 book that was the first to abandon the until-then popular search for a single unifying narrative to explain the fascicles, inaugurating a new era of fascicle scholarship. Eight prominent Dickinson scholars contribute essays to this volume and respond vigorously and variously to Cameron's argument, proposing, for instance, that the fascicles represent Dickinson's engagement with the world around her, particularly with the Civil War, and that they demonstrate her continued experimentation with poetic form. Dickinson’s Fascicles is edited by Paul Crumbley and Eleanor Elson Heginbotham. Other contributors include Paula Bernat Bennett, Martha Nell Smith, Domhnall Mitchell, Ellen Louise Hart, Melanie Hubbard, and Alexandra Socarides who assess what constitutes a vast final frontier in the Dickinson literary landscape. Susan Howe provides a coda.
The Crisis fo Globalization and the Remobilizing of Americanism
Notwithstanding its now extensive, trans-disciplinary bibliography, the full reality of globalization remains less well understood than commonly thought. As an objective, secular phenomenon, globalization has continued to be obscured by ideological and rhetorical strategies that travel under the same name but posit it as simply the abstract-universal other of the local. Dislocalism: The Crisis of Globalization and the Remobilizing of Americanism makes such strategies and the global/local binary they reinforce into objects of critical analysis. Taking her title from a new theoretical concept at the heart of this critique, Sarika Chandra argues that the historically dominant position of the United States in the global order takes on a uniquely urgent and problematic form: globalization is experienced not only as external to the American “nation of nations” but also as something internal to it. Through close study of four discrete intellectual/cultural arenas from the 1980s to the present—management theory, the literature of immigration, travel writing, and narratives of the culinary exotic—Chandra further argues that an Americanized imperative to globalize results in a repositioning of the local to maintain national and institutional boundaries. To “dislocalize” becomes, simultaneously, to “dislocalize.” By mapping out the deeper, often hidden discursive ambiguities and historical specificities of an Americanized globalization, Dislocalism effectively redefines and re-orients the fields of American literary and cultural studies.
Displacement and the Somatics of Postcolonial Culture is Douglas Robinson’s study of postcolonial affect—specifically, of the breakdown of the normative (regulatory) circulation of affect in the refugee experience and the colonial encounter, the restructuring of that regulatory circulation in colonization, and the persistence of that restructuring in decolonization and intergenerational trauma. Robinson defines “somatics” as a cultural construction of “reality” and “identity” through the regulatory circulation of evaluative affect. This book is divided into three essays covering the refugee experience, colonization and decolonization, and intergenerational trauma. Each essay contains a review of empirical studies of its main topic, a study of literary representations of that topic, and a study of postcolonial theoretical spins. The literary representations in the refugee essay are a novel and short story by the Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat; in the colonization essay a short film by Javier Fesser and a novella by Mahasweta Devi (translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak); and in the intergenerational trauma essay novels by James Welch and Toni Morrison and a short story by Percival Everett. The first essay’s theoretical spins include Deleuze and Guattari on nomad thought and Iain Chambers on migrancy; the second’s, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals and theories of postcolonial affect in Bhabha and Spivak; the third’s, work on historical trauma by Cathy Caruth and Dominic LaCapra.
Interrogating the Times
Doris Lessing: Interrogating the Times wrestles with the ghosts that continue to haunt our most pressing twenty-first-century concerns: how to reconceive imprisoning conceptions of sexuality and gender, how to define terrorism, how to locate the personal, and how to write on race and colonialism in an ever-slippery postmodern world. This collection of essays clearly establishes Lessing’s importance as a unique and necessary voice in contemporary literature and life. In tracing the evolution in Lessing’s representations of controversial subjects, this volume shows how new cultural and political contexts demand new solutions. Focusing on Lessing’s experiments with genre and on the ramifications of narrative itself, the collection asks readers to reformulate some of their most taken-for-granted assumptions about the contemporary world and their relation to it. Contributors to Doris Lessing: Interrogating the Times assess Lessing’s vision of the past and its relevance for the future by revisiting texts from the beginning of her career onward while at the same time probing previous interpretations of these works. These reassessments reveal Lessing’s continued role as a gadfly who, in disrupting rigid constructions of right and wrong and of good and evil, forces her readers to move beyond “you are damned, we are saved” narratives. As rationales such as these continue to permeate global venues, Lessing’s oeuvre becomes increasingly relevant.
Popular Front Ideals and Aethetics in Children's Plays of the Federal Theatre Project
Dreaming America: Popular Front Ideals and Aesthetics in Children’s Plays of the Federal Theatre Project by Leslie Elaine Frost traces how the tumultuous politics of the late 1930s shaped the stories and staging of federally funded plays for children. Indeed, children’s theater was central to the Federal Theatre Project’s vision of building a national theater. Frost argues that representations of the child and childhood in the FTP children’s plays stage the hopes and anxieties of a nation destabilized by both economic collapse and technological advances. A declining economy and the first stagnant birthrate in three centuries yoked the national economy to the individual family. Profound disagreements over appropriate models of education and parenting, as well as over issues of ethnicity and class, constituted fundamental arguments over democratic values and social norms. Frost locates these plays within the immediate context of the production materials in the FTP archives, as well as within the broader culture of the Great Depression, drawing on disparate primary materials—from parenting magazines to strike literature to political journals—and referencing a range of popular events—from the Joe Louis/Max Schmeling fights to Hollywood movies. As the focus of Depression-era adult anxieties and hopes and as the embodiment of vigor, dynamism, and growth, children carried symbolic value both as the future of America and as the America of the future. Frost examines representative plays’ connections to other media, culture, and politics to situate their singular trajectories in the social history of the Federal Theatre Project and Popular Front culture.
Communication, Images, and Identity in the Classical World
Though in many respects similar to us moderns, the Greeks and Romans often conceived things differently than we do. The cultural inheritance we have received from them can therefore open our eyes to many “manners of life” we might otherwise overlook. The ancients told fascinating—but different—stories; they elaborated profound—but different—symbols. Above all, they confronted many of the problems we still face today—memory and forgetfulness; identity and its strategies; absolutist moralism and behavioral relativity—only in profoundly different ways, since their own cultural forms and resources were different. In The Ears of Hermes: Communication, Images, and Identity in the Classical World, renowned scholar and author Maurizio Bettini explores these different cultural experiences, choosing paths through this territory that are diverse and sometimes unexpected: a little-known variant of a myth or legend, such as that of Brutus pretending, like Hamlet, to be a Fool; a proverb, like lupus in fabula (the wolf in the tale), that expresses the sense of foreboding aroused by the sudden arrival of someone who was just the subject of conversation; or great works, like Plautus’ Amphitruo and Vergil’s Aeneid, where we encounter the mysteries of the Doppelgänger and of “doubles” fabricated to ease the pain of nostalgia. Or the etymology of a word—its own “story”—leads us down some unforeseen avenue of discovery. While scholarly in presentation, this book, in an elegant English translation by William Michael Short, will appeal not only to classicists but also students, as well as to anthropologists and historians of art and literature beyond classics.