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Verbal Arts

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Verbal Arts

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An Atmospherics of the City

Baudelaire and the Poetics of Noise

Ross Chambers

What happens to poetic beauty when history turns the poet from one who contemplates natural beauty and the sublime to one who attempts to reconcile the practice of art with the hustle and noise of the city? An Atmospherics of the City traces Charles Baudelaire’s evolution from a writer who practices a form of fetishizing aesthetics in which poetry works to beautify the ordinary to one who perceives background noise and disorder—the city’s version of a transcendent atmosphere—as evidence of the malign work of a transcendent god of time, history, and ultimate destruction. Analyzing this shift, particularly as evidenced in Tableaux parisiens and Le Spleen de Paris, Ross Chambers shows how Baudelaire’s disenchantment with the politics of his day and the coincident rise of overpopulation, poverty, and Haussmann’s modernization of Paris influenced the poet’s work to conceive a poetry of allegory, one with the power to alert and disalienate its otherwise inattentive reader whose senses have long been dulled by the din of his environment. Providing a completely new and original understanding of both Baudelaire’s ethics and his aesthetics, Chambers reveals how the shift from themes of the supernatural in Baudelaire to ones of alienation allowed a new way for him to articulate and for his fellow Parisians to comprehend the rapidly changing conditions of the city and, in the process, to invent a “modern beauty” from the realm of suffering and the abject as they embodied forms of urban experience.

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Between Page and Screen

Remaking Literature Through Cinema and Cyberspace

Kiene Brillenburg Wurth

Since the earlier twentieth century, literary genres have traveled across magnetic, wireless, and electronic planes. Literature may now be anything from acoustic poetry and oral performance to verbal--visual constellations in print and on screen, cinematic narratives, or electronic textualities that range from hypertext to Flash. New technologies have left their imprint on literature as a paper-based medium, and vice versa. This volume explores the interactions between literature and screenbased media over the past three decades. How has literature turned to screen, how have screens undone the tyranny of the page as a medium of literature, and how have screens affected the page in literary writing? This volume answers these questions by uniquely integrating perspectives from digital literary studies, on the one hand, and film and literature studies, on the other. "Page" and "screen" are familiar catchwords in both digital literary studies and film and literature studies. The contributors reassess literary practice at the edges of paper, electronic media, and film. They show how the emergence of a new medium in fact reinvigorates the book and the page as literary media, rather than signaling their impending death. While previous studies in this field have been restricted to the digitization of literature alone, this volume shows the continuing relevance of film as a cultural medium for contemporary literature. Its integrative approach allows readers to situate current shifts within the literary field in a wider, long-term perspective.

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Cinepoetry

Imaginary Cinemas in French Poetry

Christophe Wall-Romana

Cinepoetry analyzes how French poets have remapped poetry through the lens of cinema for more than a century. In showing how poets have drawn on mass culture, technology, and material images to incorporate the idea, technique, and experience of cinema into writing, Wall-Romana documents the long history of cross-media concepts and practices often thought to emerge with the digital.In showing the cinematic consciousness of Mallarm? and Breton and calling for a reappraisal of the influential poetry theory of the early filmmaker Jean Epstein, Cinepoetry reevaluates the bases of literary modernism. The book also explores the crucial link between trauma and trans-medium experiments in the wake of two world wars and highlights the marginal identity of cinepoets who were often Jewish, gay, foreign-born, or on the margins.What results is a broad rethinking of the relationship between film and literature. The episteme of cinema, the book demonstates, reached the very core of its supposedly highbrow rival, while at the same time modern poetry cultivated the technocultural savvy that is found today in slams, e-poetry, and poetic-digital hybrids.

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A Common Strangeness

Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature

Jacob Edmond

Why is our world still understood through binary oppositions-East and West, local and global, common and strange-that ought to have crumbled with the Berlin Wall? What might literary responses to the events that ushered in our era of globalization tell us about the rhetorical and historical underpinnings of these dichotomies? In A Common Strangeness, Jacob Edmond exemplifies a new, multilingual and multilateral approach to literary and cultural studies. He begins with the entrance of China into multinational capitalism and the appearance of the Parisian flaneur in the writings of a Chinese poet exiled in Auckland, New Zealand. Moving among poetic examples in Russian, Chinese, and English, he then traces a series of encounters shaped by economic and geopolitical events from the Cultural Revolution, perestroika, and the June 4 massacre to the collapse of the Soviet Union, September 11, and the invasion of Iraq. In these encounters, Edmond tracks a shared concern with strangeness through which poets contested old binary oppositions as they reemerged in new, post-Cold War forms.

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The Ethnography of Rhythm

Orality and Its Technologies

Haun Saussy

Who speaks? The author as producer, the contingency of the text, intertextuality, the "device"-core ideas of modern literary theory-were all pioneered in the shadow of oral literature. Authorless, loosely dated, and variable, oral texts have always posed a challenge to critical interpretation. When it began to be thought that culturally significant texts-starting with Homer and the Bible-had emerged from an oral tradition, assumptions on how to read these texts were greatly perturbed. Through readings that range from ancient Greece, Rome, and China to the Cold War imaginary, The Ethnography of Rhythm situates the study of oral traditions in the contentious space of nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinking about language, mind, and culture. It also demonstrates the role of technologies in framing this category of poetic creation. By making possible a new understanding of Maussian "techniques of the body" as belonging to the domain of Derridean "arche-writing," Haun Saussy shows how oral tradition is a means of inscription in its own right, rather than an antecedent made obsolete by the written word or other media and data-storage devices.

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Lyric Apocalypse

Milton, Marvell, and the Nature of Events

Ryan Netzley

What’s new about the apocalypse? Revelation does not allow us to look back after the end and enumerate pivotal turning points. It happens in an immediate encounter with the transformatively new._x000B__x000B_John Milton’s and Andrew Marvell’s lyrics attempt to render the experience of such an apocalyptic change in the present. In this respect, they take seriously the Reformation’s insistence that eschatology is a historical phenomenon. Yet these poets are also reacting to the Regicide and, as a result, their works explore very modern questions about the nature of events, what it means for a significant historical occasion to happen._x000B__x000B_Lyric Apocalypse argues that Milton’s and Marvell’s lyrics challenge any retrospective understanding of events, including one built on a theory of revolution. Instead, these poems show that there is no “after” to the apocalypse, that if we are going to talk about change, we should do so in the present, when there is still time to do something about it. For both of these poets, lyric becomes a way to imagine an apocalyptic event that would be both hopeful and new._x000B_

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Persistent Forms

Explorations in Historical Poetics

Ilya Kliger

Since the mid-1980s, attempts to think history and literature together have produced much exciting work in the humanities. Indeed, some form of historicism can be said to inform most of the current scholarship in literary studies, including work in poetics, yet much of this scholarship remains undertheorized. Envisioning a revitalized and more expansive historicism, this volume builds on the tradition of Historical Poetics, pioneered by Alexander Veselovsky (1838-1906) and developed in various fruitful directions by the Russian Formalists, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Olga Freidenberg. The volume includes previously untranslated texts of some of the major scholars in this critical tradition, as well as original contributions which place that tradition in dialogue with other thinkers who have approached literature in a globally comparatist and evolutionary-historical spirit. The contributors seek to challenge and complement a historicism that stresses proximate sociopolitical contexts through an engagement with the longue duree of literary forms and institutions. In particular, Historical Poetics aims to uncover deep-historical stratifications and asynchronicities, in which formal solutions may display elective affinities with other, chronologically distant solutions to analogous social and political problems. By recovering the traditional nexus of philology and history, Persistent Forms seeks to reinvigorate poetics as a theoretical discipline that would respond to such critical and intellectual developments as Marxism, New Historicism, the study of world literature, practices of distant reading, and a renewed attention to ritual, oral poetics, and genre.

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