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Brian Swann’s Autumn Road consists of three interrelated parts: “ghosts/on paper, anonymous, ambiguous, festive—,” from the viewpoint of someone “similar to/who I am, but not me.” There should be no “mistaking flashes” for “heliography.” This poem, “Heliography” and another in Part I, “The Lost Boy,” is set during and after World War II in Northumberland, England, a world of farm, coal mine, family, and relatives. Later, in adolescence, the scene moves to the fen country of East Anglia and focuses on a difficult father and a violent world. Part II centers on “Ars Amatoria” in its various manifestations: marriage, the family and children. Part III, Eschatology,” looks back but also forward. It moves through middle age to “Three Score and Then Some.” What it sees is “the River Jordan spreading across night sands,” friends and family no longer here. It ends with the title poem, set in New York’s western Catskill Mountains: “I look for ecstatic image/here below where the year is dying fiercely.”
A Social History of the Great Toledo Bank Crash of 1931
In the 1920s, Toledo, Ohio, led the nation in manufacturing job growth. In summer 1931, Toledo suffered the worst banking crash of the Great Depression. Soon afterward, a greater percentage of the people in Toledo survived on federal relief than in any other American city. What caused one of America's most dynamic industrial cities to fall so far, so fast? Banksters, Bosses, and Smart Money uncovers the causes of one city’s economic collapse by tracing the interlocking directorships, political machines, and insider deals that made quick fortunes for the well-connected while jeopardizing the savings of tens of thousands of depositors. It documents how the power of the city’s financial elites continued even after the calamitous bank crash of 1931, skewing the liquidation of insolvent banks in their favor and shielding those responsible from criminal prosecution. By examining the social and political roots of the banking crisis in one community, Messer-Kruse demonstrates that the Great Depression cannot be understood only as an external force that crashed over communities, but also as a consequence of local power relations and financial decisions. Toledo’s example suggests that the Great Depression was made locally and spread globally, not the other way around.
Literature, Language, and Aesthetics
Learning a language involves so much more than just rote memorization of rules. Basics of Language for Language Learners systematically explores all the aspects of language central to second language learning: the sounds of language, the different grammatical structures, the social functions of communication, and the psychology of language learning and use. Peter W. Culicover and Elizabeth V. Hume guide the reader through all the nuances that empower a person, regardless of age, to be a much more effective, efficient, and proficient language learner. Unlike books specific to one single language, Basics of Language will help students of all languages. Readers will gain insight into the structure and use of their own language and will therefore see more clearly how the language they are learning differs from their first language. Language instructors will find the approach provocative, and the book will stimulate many new and effective ideas for teaching. Both a textbook and a reference work, Basics of Language will enhance the learning experience for anyone taking a foreign language course as well as the do-it-yourself learner.
Illegitimacy in Eighteenth-Century England
In this compelling interdisciplinary study of what has been called the “century of illegitimacy,” Lisa Zunshine seeks to uncover the multiplicity of cultural meanings of illegitimacy in the English Enlightenment. Bastards and Foundlings pits the official legal views on illegitimacy against the actual everyday practices that frequently circumvented the law; it reconstructs the history of social institutions called upon to regulate illegitimacy, such as the London Foundling Hospital; and it examines a wide array of novels and plays written in response to the same concerns that informed the emergence and functioning of such institutions. By recreating the context of the national preoccupation with bastardy, with a special emphasis on the gender of the fictional bastard/foundling, Zunshine offers new readings of “canonical” texts, such as Steele’s The Conscious Lovers, Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Fielding’s Tom Jones, Moore’s The Foundling, Colman’s The English Merchant, Richardson’s Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison, Burney’s Evelina, Smith’s Emmeline, Edgeworth’s Belinda, and Austen’s Emma, as well as of less well-known works, such as Haywood’s The Fortunate Foundlings, Shebbeare’s The Marriage Act, Bennett’s The Beggar Girl and Her Benefactors, and Robinson’s The Natural Daughter.
The Culture of Uplift, Identity, and Politics in Black Musical Theatre
Paula Marie Seniors’s Beyond Lift Every Voice and Sing is an engaging and well-researched book that explores the realities of African American life and history as refracted through the musical theater productions of one of the most prolific black song-writing teams of the early twentieth century. James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson, and Bob Cole combined conservative and progressive ideas in a complex and historically specific strategy for overcoming racism and its effects. In Shoo Fly Regiment (1906–1908) and The Red Moon (1908–1910), theater, uplift, and politics collided as the team tried to communicate a politics of uplift, racial pride, gender equality, and interethnic coalitions. The overarching question of this study is how roles and representations in black musical theater both reflected and challenged the dominant social order. While some scholars dismiss the team as conformists, Seniors’s contention is that they used the very tools of hegemony to make progressive political statements and to create a distinctly black theater informed by black politics, history, and culture. These men were writers, musicians, actors, and vaudevillians who strove to change the perception of African Americans on stage from one of minstrelsy buffoonery to one of dignity and professionalism.
The Politics of Women's Health and Work in Early Victorian England
Appealing to audiences interested in the histories of medicine, women, gender, labor, and social policy, Beyond the Reproductive Body examines women’s health in relation to work in early Victorian England. Government officials and reformers investigating the laboring population became convinced that the female body would be ruined by gainful employment, making women incapable of reproducing a healthy labor force. Women’s work was thus framed as a public health “problem.” Poor women were caught between the contradictory expectations of the reproductive body, which supposedly precluded any but domestic labor, and the able body, which dictated that all poor but healthy people must work to stay independent of state assistance. Medical case narratives of female patients show that while official pronouncements emphasized the physical limitations of the female reproductive body, poor women adopted an able-bodied norm. Beyond the Reproductive Body demonstrates the centrality of gender and the body in the formation of Victorian policies concerning employment, public health, and welfare. Focusing on poor women, it challenges historians’ customary presentations of Victorian women’s delicate health. The medical case narratives give voices to poor women, who have left very few written records of their own.
The poems in Blood Prism span a lifetime. Its three sections, “Memory,” “Politics,” and “Age,” frame meditations on a violence-blotched world with reflections on the author’s childhood and conclusions about a decades-long life of writing. “I’m 60 and still . . . alive in this world, with love and with its palindrome,” one poem says. And the argument of the book turns on that precise puzzle: on evol, invoking as it does both evil and evolve, both human wrong and life as something more than mere survival. In a variety of styles—prose poems, standard and dislocated forms—Hoeppner uses “blood” to represent family and history, his surprising and richly imagistic language rendering the emptiness he calls imagination “into remains. Into what persists.”
Writing the Violent Subject
We live in an increasingly violent world. From suicide terrorists to serial killers, violent subjects challenge our imaginations. We seek answers to our questions on this subject in literature, cinema, and electronic media. In Bloodscripts, Elana Gomel examines how popular culture narratives construct violent subjectivity. Using such various narratives as mystery, horror, detective, and fantasy fiction as well as accounts of the atrocities perpetuated by serial killers and the Holocaust, Bloodscripts offers a new map of the genres of violence and links the twin obsessions of postmodern culture: crime and genocide. Bloodscripts is a stimulating, original, and accessible account of the narrative construction of the violent subject. It proposes a narrative model that will be of interest to literary critics, cultural scholars, criminologists, and anyone trying to understand the role of violence in postmodern culture.
Gender and Sowlehele in Middle English Allegory
In medieval allegory, Body and Soul were often pitted against one another in debate. In Body Against Soul: Gender and Sowlehele in Middle English Allegory, Masha Raskolnikov argues that such debates function as a mode of thinking about psychology, gender, and power in the Middle Ages. Neither theological nor medical in nature, works of sowlehele (“soul-heal”) described the self to itself in everyday language—moderns might call this kind of writing “self-help.” Bringing together contemporary feminist and queer theory along with medieval psychological thought, Body Against Soul examines Piers Plowman, the “Katherine Group,” and the history of psychological allegory and debate. In so doing, it rewrites the history of the Body to include its recently neglected fellow, the Soul. The topic of this book is one that runs through all of Western history and remains of primary interest to modern theorists—how “my” body relates to “me.” In the allegorical tradition traced by this study, a male person could imagine himself as a being populated by female personifications, because Latin and Romance languages tended to gender abstract nouns as female. However, since Middle English had ceased to inflect abstract nouns as male or female, writers were free to gender abstractions like “Will” or “Reason” any way they liked. This permitted some psychological allegories to avoid the representational tension caused by placing a female soul inside a male body, instead creating surprisingly queer same-sex inner worlds. The didactic intent driving sowlehele is, it turns out, complicated by the erotics of the struggle to establish a hierarchy of the self’s inner powers.
The Paradox of Community in Contemporary Fiction
Why are some versions of the collective “we” admired and desired while other versions are scorned and feared? A Body of Individuals: The Paradox of Community in Contemporary Fiction examines the conflict over the collective “we” through discourses of community. In the discourse of benevolent community, community is a tool towards achieving healing, productiveness, and connection. In the discourse of dissenting community, community that serves a function is simply another name for totalitarianism; instead, community must merely be a fact of coexistence. What are the sources and the appeal of these irreconcilable views of community, and how do they interact in contemporary fiction’s attempt at imagining “we”? By engaging contemporary U.S. writers such as Toni Morrison, Richard Powers, Karen Tei Yamashita, Lydia Davis, Lynne Tillman, and David Markson with theorists such as Jean-Luc Nancy, Giorgio Agamben, François Lyotard, Ernesto Laclau, Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, this book reveals how the two conflicting discourses of community—benevolent and dissenting—are inextricably intertwined in various literary visions of “we”—“we” of the family, of the world, of the human, and of coexistence. These literary visions demonstrate, in a way that popular visions of community and postmodern theories of community cannot, the dialectical relationship between the discourses of benevolent community and dissenting community. Sue-Im Lee argues that contemporary fiction’s inability to resolve the paradox results in a model of ambivalent community, one that offers unique insights into community and into the very notion of unity.