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Contemporary Advances in Theoretical and Applied Spanish Linguistic Variations

Edited by Juan Colomina-Alminana

Contemporary Advances in Theoretical and Applied Spanish Linguistic Variation, by Juan J. Colomina-Almiñana, reflects the diversity of methodologies and approaches that have enriched the field of Hispanic sociolinguistics in the last decades. However, this collection offers an alternate history of language variation, since it shows that language variation is a constant process of change over time and not just a static phenomenon representative of a social class or concrete demographic.

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Contemporary African American Fiction

New Critical Essays

In Contemporary African American Fiction: New Critical Essays, edited by Dana A. Williams, eight contributors examine trends and ideas which characterize African American fiction since 1970. They investigate many of the key inquiries which inform discussions about the condition of contemporary African American fiction. The range of queries is wide and varied. How does African American fiction represent the changing times in America and the world? How are these changes reflected in narrative strategies or in narrative content? How do contemporary fictionists engage diasporic Africanisms, or how do they renegotiate Americanism? What is the impact of cultural production, gender, sexuality, nationality, and ethnicity on this fiction? How does contemporary African American fiction reconstruct or rewrite earlier “classic” African American, American, or world literature? Authors under study include Ernest J. Gaines, Ishmael Reed, Edwidge Danticat, Octavia E. Butler, Olympia Vernon, Toni Morrison, and Reginald McKnight, among others. These essays remind us that the African American literary tradition is about survival and liberation. The tradition is similarly about probing, challenging, changing, and redirecting accepted ways of thinking to ensure the wellness and the freedom of its community cohorts. The essays identify new ways contemporary African American fiction continues the tradition’s liberatory inclinations—they interrogate the ways in which antecedent texts and traditions influence contemporary texts to create new traditions.

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Cops and Kids

Policing Juvenile Delinquency in Urban America, 1890-1940

Juvenile courts were established in the early twentieth century with the ideal of saving young offenders from “delinquency.” Many kids, however, never made it to juvenile court. Their cases were decided by a different agency—the police. Cops and Kids analyzes how police regulated juvenile behavior in turn-of-the-century America. Focusing on Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit, it examines how police saw their mission, how they dealt with public demands, and how they coped daily with kids. Whereas most scholarship in the field of delinquency has focused on progressive-era reformers who created a separate juvenile justice system, David B. Wolcott’s study looks instead at the complicated, sometimes coercive, relationship between police officers and young offenders. Indeed, Wolcott argues, police officers used their authority in a variety of ways to influence boys’ and girls’ behavior. Prior to the creation of juvenile courts, police officers often disciplined kids by warning and releasing them, keeping them out of courts. Establishing separate juvenile courts, however, encouraged the police to cast a wider net, pulling more young offenders into the new system. While some departments embraced “child-friendly” approaches to policing, others clung to rough-and-tumble methods. By the 1920s and 1930s, many police departments developed new strategies that combined progressive initiatives with tougher law enforcement targeted specifically at growing minority populations. Cops and Kids illuminates conflicts between reformers and police over the practice of juvenile justice and sheds new light on the origins of lasting tensions between America’s police and urban communities.

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The Court of Comedy

Aristophanes, Rhetoric, and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens

The Court of Comedy: Aristophanes, Rhetoric, and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens, by Wilfred E. Major, analyzes how writers of comedy in Classical Greece satirized the emerging art of rhetoric and its role in political life. In the fifth century BCE, the development of rhetoric proceeded hand in hand with the growth of democracy both on Sicily and at Athens. In turn, comic playwrights in Athens, most notably Aristophanes, lampooned oratory as part of their commentary on the successes and failures of the young democracy. This innovative study is the first book to survey all the surviving comedy from the fifth century BCE on these important topics. The evidence reveals that Greek comedy provides a revealing commentary on the incipient craft of rhetoric before its formal conventions were stabilized. Furthermore, Aristophanes’ depiction of rhetoric and of Athenian democratic institutions indicates that he fundamentally supports the Athenian democracy and not, as is often argued, oligarchic opposition to it. These conclusions confirm recent work that reinterprets the early development of rhetoric in Classical Greece and offer fresh perspectives on the debate over the role of comedy in early Greek democracy. Throughout, Major capitalizes on recent progress in the understanding of the performance dynamics of Classical Greek theater.

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Criminal Conversations

Victorian Crimes, Social Panic, and Moral Outrage

In the climate of social panics that characterized so much of the Victorian period, there was keen consciousness of the threats a variety of crimes posed to social stability. Conversations about crime, particularly via the media, were a major feature of Victorian Britain’s daily life, and it was through such conversations that people learned about the nature of crime and criminality, as well as about the individuals who committed crimes or were merely guilty of socially offensive conduct or “bad” behavior. The essays in this book set out to explore the ways in which Victorians used newspapers to identify the causes of bad behavior and its impacts, and the ways in which they tried to “distance” criminals and those guilty of “bad” behavior from the ordinary members of society, including identification of them as different according to race or sexual orientation. It also explores how threats from within “normal” society were depicted and the panic that issues like “baby-farming” caused. Victorian alarm was about crimes and bad behavior which they saw as new or unique to their period—but which were not new then and which, in slightly different dress, are still causing panic today. What is striking about the essays in this collection are the ways they echo contemporary concerns about crime and bad behavior, including panics about “new” types of crime. This has implications for modern understandings of how society needs to understand crime, demonstrating that while there are changes over time, there are also important continuities.

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A Criminal Power

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.

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Darkly Perfect World

Colonial Adventure, Postmodernism, and American Noir

Stanley Orr’s Darkly Perfect World offers a large-scale historical narrative about the way American crime fiction and film have changed throughout the twentieth century. Orr argues that films noirs and noir fictions dramatize Raymond Chandler’s pronouncement that “Even in death, a man has a right to his own identity.” Orr illuminates a noir ethos committed to “authenticating alienation”: subjectivity managed through radical polarization of Self and Other. Distinguishing a heretofore unrecognized context for American noir, Orr demonstrates that Chandler and Dashiell Hammett arrive at this subject within and against the colonial adventure genre. While the renegades of Joseph Conrad and Louis Becke project a figure vulnerable to shifts in cultural context, the noir protagonist exemplifies alienated selfhood and often performs a “continental operation” against the slippages of the colonial adventurer. But even as Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, and other noir virtuosi persist with this revision of late Victorian adventure, Chester Himes, Dorothy Hughes, and John Okada experiment with hard-boiled alienation for a subversion of noir that resonates throughout literary postmodernism. In their respective avant-garde novels, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, and Paul Auster expose what K.W. Jeter terms the “darkly perfect world” of noir, thus giving rise to and enabling the con men and “connected guys” of contemporary films noirs such as Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects, David Fincher’s Seven, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

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Decentering Rushdie

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.

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Deciphering Race

White Anxiety, Racial Conflict, and the Turn to Fiction in Mid-Victorian English Prose

Deciphering Race engages with the complex and contested world of Victorian racial discourse. In the five central texts under consideration in this study—Harriet Martineau’s The Hour and the Man, Robert Knox’s The Races of Men, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins’s “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners,” the transcript of the inquiry into the Governor Eyre Controversy, and James Grant’s First Love and Last Love—a white English author or character turns to the aesthetic in order to assuage a sense of anxiety produced by a confrontation with racial otherness. White characters or narrators confront the limitations of preconceived ideologies or the interlacing of oppressions, and subsequently falter. In this manner these narratives confront the complexity, indeterminacy, and irrationality of both racial difference and the systems put in place to understand that difference. Deciphering Race unpacks this narrative turn to the aesthetic in writings by white English individuals and thus reveals the instability at the heart of cultural understanding of race and racial tropes at mid-century. This series of readings will help to see how figurative structures, while providing a bridge between different cultures and epistemologies, also reinforce a distance that keeps groups separate. Only by disentangling these structures, by addressing and unpacking our assumptions and narratives about those different from ourselves, and by understanding our deep cultural anxiety and investment in these ways of talking about one another, can we begin to create the conditions for productive, local understanding between different cultures, races, and communities.

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The Deer in the Mirror

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.

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