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Modernism, American Literary Studies, and the Problem of Culture
The term "culture" has become ubiquitous in both academic and popular conversations, but its usefulness is a point of dispute. Taking the current shift from cultural studies to aesthetics as the latest form of this discussion, Eric Aronoff contends that in American modernism, the concepts of culture and of aesthetics have always been inseparable. The modernist concept of culture, he argues, arose out of an interdisciplinary dialogue about value, meaning, and form among social critics, artists, anthropologists, and literary critics, including figures as diverse as Van Wyck Brooks, Edward Sapir, Willa Cather, Lewis Mumford, John Crowe Ransom, Raymond Weaver, and Allen Tate. These figures proposed new ways to conceive of culture that intertwined theories of aesthetic and literary value with theories of national, racial, and regional identity. Through close readings, Aronoff shows that disciplines and approaches that are often thought of as opposed—cultural anthropology and aesthetics, American literary history and literary criticism, and multiculturalism and regionalism—are in fact engaged in common debate and proceed from shared arguments about culture and form.
Nationalism, Symbolism, and the Imagined South in the Civil War
Nationalism in nineteenth-century America operated through a collection of symbols, signifiers citizens could invest with meaning and understanding. In Confederate Visions, Ian Binnington examines the roots of Confederate nationalism by analyzing some of its most important symbols: Confederate constitutions, treasury notes, wartime literature, and the role of the military in symbolizing the Confederate nation.
Nationalisms tend to construct glorified pasts, idyllic pictures of national strength, honor, and unity, based on visions of what should have been rather than what actually was. Binnington considers the ways in which the Confederacy was imagined by antebellum Southerners employing intertwined mythic concepts—the "Worthy Southron," the "Demon Yankee," the "Silent Slave"—and a sense of shared history that constituted a distinctive Confederate Americanism. The Worthy Southron, the constructed Confederate self, was imagined as a champion of liberty, counterposed to the Demon Yankee other, a fanatical abolitionist and enemy of Liberty. The Silent Slave was a companion to the vocal Confederate self, loyal and trusting, reliable and honest.
The creation of American national identity was fraught with struggle, political conflict, and bloody Civil War. Confederate Visions examines literature, newspapers and periodicals, visual imagery, and formal state documents to explore the origins and development of wartime Confederate nationalism.
Cinema, Writing, and Modernity in Rio de Janeiro
Consuming Visions explores the relationship between cinema and writing in early twentieth-century Brazil, focusing on how the new and foreign medium of film was consumed by a literary society in the throes of modernization. Maite Conde places this relationship in the specific context of turn-of-the-century Rio de Janeiro, which underwent a radical transformation to a modern global city, becoming a concrete symbol of the country's broader processes of change and modernization. Analyzing an array of literary texts, from journalistic essays and popular women's novels to anarchist treatises and vaudeville plays, the author shows how the writers' encounters with the cinema were consistent with the significant changes taking place in the city.
The arrival and initial development of the cinema in Brazil were part of the new urban landscape in which early Brazilian movies not only articulated the processes of the city's modernization but also enabled new urban spectators—women, immigrants, a new working class, and a recently liberated slave population—to see, believe in, and participate in its future. In the process, these early movies challenged the power of the written word and of Brazilian writers, threatening the hegemonic function of writing that had traditionally forged the contours of the nation's cultural life. An emerging market of consumers of the new cultural phenomena—popular theater, the department store, the factory, illustrated magazines—reflected changes that not only modernized literary production but also altered the very life and everyday urban experiences of the population. Consuming Visions is an ambitious and engaging examination of the ways in which mass culture can become an agent of intellectual and aesthetic transformation.
Fifty years after most francophone African countries gained independence, the concept of "engagement" is undergoing a change in both terminology and practice as contemporary francophone African writers expand their forms of commitment to include aesthetics, in addition to politics, and to broaden their context to that of world literature. Cazenave and Célérier offer both an overview of this transition and an analysis of the literature of these writers.
The Politics of Bondage and Freedom in the New American Nation
The fifteen original essays in this collection examine the politics of slavery and antislavery in the traditionally overlooked period between the 1770s and the 1840s, challenging the standard narrative in which slavery played a peripheral role in regional and national politics.
Representation and the Jury in Anglo-American Legal History
In Contract and Consent, the renowned legal historian J. R. Pole posits that legal history has become highly specialized, while mainstream political and social historians frequently ignore cases that figure prominently in the legal literature. Pole makes a start at remedying the situation with a series of essays that reintegrate legal with political and social history. A central theme of the essays is the link between Anglo-American common law and contract law and American political and constitutional principles. Pole also emphasizes the political functions of legal institutions in English and American history, going so far as to suggest that we need to divest ourselves of any notion of the separation of powers. Instead, we need to acknowledge the historical role of courts, juries, and the common law as agencies of political representation and as promulgators of law and policy.
Other essays show the implications of independence for American law, and how American political scientists converted the concept of sovereignty from its authoritarian claims in the eighteenth century into a product of the political process in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although the American colonies made their own versions of the common law,there was no simple division between "English" and "American" law. But it was of fundamental importance that an entitled, landed aristocracy was never imported into or allowed to take root in America, with the result that American law was much simpler than its English counterpart, with the latter's accretion of esoteric language and procedures.
Having established the basis of Anglo-American legal history in contract and common law in part one, in the second half of the volume Pole explores various constitutional and legal themes, from bicameralism in Britain and America and the role of the Constitution in the making of American nationality to the performance of representative institutions in the century following the American Revolution.
Making the Modern Landscape
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander is one of the most important landscape architects of the twentieth century, yet despite her lasting influence, few outside the field know her name. Her work has been instrumental in the development of the late-twentieth-century design ethic, and her early years working with architectural luminaries such as Louis Kahn and Dan Kiley prepared her to bring a truly modern—and audaciously abstract—sensibility to the landscape design tradition.
In Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Making the Modern Landscape, Susan Herrington draws upon archival research, site analyses, and numerous interviews with Oberlander and her collaborators to offer the first biography of this adventurous and influential landscape architect. Born in 1921, Oberlander fled Nazi Germany at the age of eighteen with her family, going on to become one of the few women to graduate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in the late 1940s. For six decades she has practiced socially responsible and ecologically sensitive planning for public landscapes, including the 1970s design of the Robson Square landscape and its adjoining Provincial Law Courts—one of Vancouver’s most famous spaces.
Herrington places Oberlander within a larger social and aesthetic context, chronicling both her personal and professional trajectory and her work in New York, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Seattle, Berlin, Toronto, and Montreal.
Oberlander is a progenitor of some of the most significant currents informing landscape architecture today, particularly in the area of ecological focus. In her thorough biography, Herrington draws much-deserved attention to one of the truly important figures in landscape architecture.
Americans in Paris in the Age of Revolution
Adopting the unique perspectives of Americans in Paris--including Jefferson, Paine, and Gouverneur Morris--during the French Revolution, Ziesche challenges the conventional view of the American and French Revolutions as polar opposites, finding many points of similarity between the French and American nation-building projects.
Same-Sex Intimacy and the Literature of the Southern Plantation, 1936-1968
Finally breaking through heterosexual clichés of flirtatious belles and cavaliers, sinister black rapists and lusty "Jezebels," Cotton's Queer Relations exposes the queer dynamics embedded in myths of the southern plantation. Focusing on works by Ernest J. Gaines, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Katherine Anne Porter, Margaret Walker, William Styron, and Arna Bontemps, Michael P. Bibler shows how each one uses figures of same-sex intimacy to suggest a more progressive alternative to the pervasive inequalities tied historically and symbolically to the South's most iconic institution.
Essays on Transplantation, Adaptation, and Continuity
Set mostly within an expansive British imperial and transatlantic framework, this new selection of writings from the renowned historian Jack P. Greene draws on themes he has been developing throughout his distinguished career. In these essays Greene explores the efforts to impose Old World institutions, identities, and values upon the New World societies being created during the colonization process. He shows how transplanted Old World components—political, legal, and social—were adapted to meet the demands of new, economically viable, expansive cultural hearths. Greene argues that these transplantations and adaptations were of fundamental importance in the formation and evolution of the new American republic and the society it represented.
The scope of this work allows Greene to consider in depth numerous subjects, including the dynamics of colonization, the development and character of provincial identities, the relationship between new settler societies in America and the emerging British Empire, and the role of cultural power in social and political formation.