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Literacy Studies from the Puritans to the Postmoderns
In The Evolution of College English, Thomas P. Miller defines college English studies as literacy studies and presents a history of how it has evolved in tandem with broader developments. He maps out “four corners” of English departments: literature, language studies, teacher education, and writing studies. Miller identifies their development with changes in the technologies and economies of literacy that have redefined what students write and read, which careers they enter, and how literature represents their experiences and aspirations. Miller looks to comprehensive departments of English that value studies of teaching, writing, and language as well as literature. He also examines broadly based institutions that are engaged with writing at work in public life, with schools and public agencies, with access issues, and with media, ethnic, and cultural studies. With the growing privatization of higher education, such pragmatic engagements become vital to sustaining a civic vision of English studies and the humanities generally.
Aesthetics and Pedagogies
From the outset, experimental writing has been viewed as a means to afford a more creative space for students to express individuality, underrepresented social realities, and criticisms of dominant sociopolitical discourses and their institutions. Yet, the recent trend toward multimedia texts has left many composition instructors with little basis from which to assess these new forms and to formulate pedagogies. In this original study, Patricia Suzanne Sullivan provides a critical history of experimental writing theory and its aesthetic foundations and demonstrates their application to current multimodal writing. Sullivan unpacks the work of major scholars in composition and rhetoric and their theories on aesthetics, particularly avant-gardism. She also relates the dialectics that shape these aesthetics and sheds new light on both the positive and negative aspects of experimental writing and its attempts to redefine the writing disciplines. Additionally, she shows how current debates over the value of multimedia texts echo earlier arguments that pitted experimental writing against traditional models. Sullivan articulates the ways that multimedia is and isn’t changing composition pedagogies and provides insights into resolving these tensions.
Winner of the 1997 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. This collection is filled with narrative and character grounded in the meaning and value the earth gives to human existence. In one story, a woman sleeps with the village priest, trying to gain back the land the church took from her family; in another, relatives in the Azores fight over a plot of land owned by their expatriate American cousin. Even apparently small images are cast in terms of the earth: Milton, one narrator explains, has made apples the object of a misunderstanding by naming them as Eden’s fruit: “In the Bible, no fruit is named in the Garden of Eden - and to this day apples are misunderstood. They were trying to tempt people not into sin but into listening to the earth more closely. . . . their white meal runs wet with the knowledge of the language of the land, but people do not listen.” Vaz’s beautiful, intensely conscious language often delicately slips her stories into the realm of the fado, the Portuguese song about fate and longing. “Listen for the nightingale that presses its breast against the thorns of the rose,” on character sings, “that the song might be more beautiful.” Such a verse might describe Vaz’s own motive behind her willingness to confront her subject’s ambiguities and her characters’ conflicts - the simultaneous joy and sorrow of some of life’s discoveries, the pain sometimes hidden within passion and pleasure.
The Falling Hour is the fifth collection of poetry by David Wojahn, one of the most highly regarded poets of his generation. It is a fiercly elegiac and even apocalyptic book, culminating in a series of blistering elegies written after the sudden death of Wojahn’s wife, the poet Linda Hull. In these poems, the process of mourning and lamentation is examined in all of its intricacy, rage, and sorrowful ambivalence.
Russia and Germany as Entangled Histories, 1914–1945
Russia and Germany have had a long history of significant cultural, political, and economic exchange. Despite these beneficial interactions, stereotypes of the alien Other persisted. Germans perceived Russia as a vast frontier with unlimited potential, yet infused with an “Asianness” that explained its backwardness and despotic leadership. Russians admired German advances in science, government, and philosophy, but saw their people as lifeless and obsessed with order. Fascination and Enmity presents an original transnational history of the two nations during the critical era of the world wars. By examining the mutual perceptions and misperceptions within each country, the contributors reveal the psyche of the Russian-German dynamic and its use as a powerful political and cultural tool. Through accounts of fellow travelers, POWs, war correspondents, soldiers on the front, propagandists, revolutionaries, the Comintern, and wartime and postwar occupations, the contributors analyze the kinetics of the Russian-German exchange and the perceptions drawn from these encounters. The result is a highly engaging chronicle of the complex entanglements of two world powers through the great wars of the twentieth century.
Fata Morgana mingles personal experience, history, mythology, politics, and natural science to explore the relationships of conception and perception, the self finding its way through a physical and social world not of its own making, but changing the world by its presence.
Across the Disciplines
This volume provides a cross-disciplinary examination of fear, that most unruly of our emotions, by offering a broad survey of the psychological, biological, and philosophical basis of fear in historical and contemporary contexts. The contributors, leading figures in clinical psychology, neuroscience, the social sciences, and the humanities, consider categories of intentionality, temporality, admixture, spectacle, and politics in evaluating conceptions of fear. Individual chapters treat manifestations of fear in the mass panic of the stock market crash of 1929, as spectacle in warfare and in horror films, and as a political tool to justify security measures in the wake of terrorist acts. They also describe the biological and evolutionary roots of fear, fear as innate versus learned behavior in both humans and animals, and conceptions of human “passions” and their self-mastery from late antiquity to the early modern era. Additionally, the contributors examine theories of intentional and non-intentional reactivity, the process of fear-memory coding, and contemporary psychology’s emphasis on anxiety disorders. Overall, the authors point to fear as a dense and variable web of responses to external and internal stimuli. Our thinking about these reactions is just as complex. In response, this volume opens a dialogue between science and the humanities to afford a more complete view of an emotion that has shaped human behavior since time immemorial.
With rapid shifts between subject and tone, sometimes within single poems, Dean Young’s latest book explores the kaleidoscopic welter of art and life. Here parody does not exclude the cri de coeur any more than seriousness excludes the joke. With surrealist volatility, these poems are the result of experiments that continue for the reader during each reading. Young moves from reworkings of creation myths, the index of the Norton Anthology of Poetry, pseudo reports and memos, collaged biographies, talking clouds, and worms, to memory, mourning, sexual playfulness, and deep sadness in the course of this turbulent book.
Soviet Cinema and the Genocide of the Jews, 1938–1946
Most early Western perceptions of the Holocaust were based on newsreels filmed during the allied liberation of Germany in 1945. Little, however, was reported of the initial wave of material from Soviet filmmakers who were in fact the first to document these horrors. In First Films of the Holocaust, Jeremy Hicks presents a pioneering study of Soviet contributions to the growing public awareness of the horrors of Nazi rule. Even before the war, the Soviet film Professor Mamlock, which premiered in the United States in 1938 and coincided with the Kristallnacht pogrom, helped reinforce anti-Nazi sentiment. Yet, Soviet films were often dismissed or even banned in the West as Communist propaganda. Ironically, in the brief 1939–1941 period of Nazi and Soviet alliance, such films were also banned in the Soviet Union, only to be reclaimed after the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, and suppressed yet again during the Cold War. Jeremy Hicks recovers much of the major film work in Soviet depictions of the Shoa and views them within their political context, both locally and internationally. Overwhelmingly, wartime films were skewed to depict Soviet resistance, “Red funerals,” and calls for vengeance, rather than the singling out of Jewish victims by the Nazis. Almost no personal testimony of victims or synchronous sound was recorded, furthering the disconnection of the viewer to the victims. Hicks examines correspondence, scripts, reviews, and compares edited with unedited film, to unearth the deliberately hidden Jewish aspects of Soviet depictions of the German invasion and occupation. To Hicks, it’s in the silences, gaps, and ellipses that the films speak most clearly. Additionally, he details the reasons why Soviet Holocaust films have been subsequently erased from collective memory in the West and the Soviet Union: their graphic horror, their use as propaganda tools, and the postwar rise of the Red Scare in the United States and anti-Semitic campaigns in the Soviet Union.
The Floating Bridge, David Shumate’s second collection of prose poems, transports its readers over the chasm between the mundane and the enchanted. We traverse one bridge and find ourselves eavesdropping on Gertrude Stein and her gardener. We take the night bus to Gomorrah to have a look around. Halfway across, each bridge vanishes beneath our feet. Our world shifts. The commonplace begins to glow. We turn the page. Another bridge awaits.