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America and Americans in Russian Literary Perception
In Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done?, one of the protagonists feigns suicide and goes to America. In Fedor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Svidrigailov, announces: “I’m going to America,” then commits suicide. When in America—“on the other shore,” as Russians sometimes put it—Russian émigré characters and writers often feel that, although they have now acquired a new life, this life approximates a posthumous experience. Although the country across the ocean had already begun to acquire concrete historical features in the Russian mind by the last quarter of the eighteenth century, connotations of the Other World, the land on the other side of earthly existence, still lurk in the background of literary texts about the New World. This mythological perception of the New World is not exclusively Russian, but in Russia the mythological concept gained a specificity and a concrete form that persisted through many eras and appeared in the works of very different authors.
American Flyers in World War II
Contrasts between fighter combat and the bombers' war support Klinkowitz's belief that notions of the air war were determined by one's position in it. He extends his thesis by showing the vastly different style of air war described by veterans of the North African and Mediterranean campaigns and concludes by studying the effects of such combat on adversaries and victims.
Air combat, Klinkowitz writes, offers a unique perspective on the nature of war. The experience of combat has inspired authors to combine exquisite descriptions with probing thoughtfulness, covering the full range of human expression from exultation to heartbreak. Here is a tightly drawn, highly readable account of the European air war.
Male Creativity and Sexuality, 1650-1750
Literary composition is more than an intellectual affair. Poetry has long been said to spring from the heart, while aspiring writers are frequently encouraged to write "from the gut." Still another formulation likens the poetic imagination to the pregnant womb, in spite of the fact that most poets historically have been male. Offering a rather different set of arguments about the forces that shape creativity, Raymond Stephanson examines how male writers of the Enlightenment imagined the origins, nature, and structures of their own creative impulses as residing in their virility. For Stephanson, the links between male writing, the social contexts of masculinity, and the male body—particularly the genitalia—played a significant role in the self-fashioning of several generations of male authors.
Positioning sexuality as a volatile mechanism in the development of creative energy, The Yard of Wit explains why male writers associated their authorial work—both the internal site of creativity and its status in public—with their genitalia and reproductive and erotic acts, and how these gestures functioned in the new marketplace of letters. Using the figure and writings of Alexander Pope as a touchstone, Stephanson offers an inspired reading of an important historical convergence, a double commodification of male creativity and of masculinity as the sexualized male body.
In considering how literary discourses about male creativity are linked to larger cultural formations, this elegant, enlightening book offers new insight into sex and gender, maleness and masculinity, and the intricate relationship between the male body and mind.
History, Memory, and Japan's Unending Postwar
This is the first extensive English-language study of Yasukuni Shrine as a war memorial. It explores the controversial shrine's role in waging war, promoting peace, honoring the dead, and, in particular, building Japan's modern national identity. It traces Yasukuni's history from its conceptualization in the final years of the Tokugawa period and Japan's wars of imperialism to the present. Author Akiko Takenaka departs from existing scholarship on Yasukuni by considering various themes important to the study of war and its legacies through a chronological and thematic survey of the shrine, emphasizing the spatial practices that took place both at the shrine and at regional sites associated with it over the last 150 years. Rather than treat Yasukuni as a single, unchanging ideological entity, she takes into account the social and political milieu, maps out gradual transformations in both its events and rituals, and explicates the ideas that the shrine symbolizes. Takenaka illuminates the ways the shrine's spaces were used during wartime, most notably in her reconstructions, based on primary sources, of visits by war-bereaved military families to the shrine during the Asia-Pacific War. She also traces important episodes in Yasukuni's postwar history, including the filing of lawsuits against the shrine and recent attempts to reinvent it for the twenty-first century. Through a careful analysis of the shrine's history over one and a half centuries, her work views the making and unmaking of a modern militaristic Japan through the lens of Yasukuni Shrine. Yasukuni Shrine: History, Memory, and Japan's Unending Postwar is a skilled and innovative examination of modern and contemporary Japan's engagement with the critical issues of war, empire, and memory. It will be of particular interest to readers of Japanese history and culture as well as those who follow current affairs and foreign relations in East Asia. Its discussion of spatial practices in the life of monuments and the political use of images, media, and museum exhibits will find a welcome audience among those engaged in memory, visual culture, and media studies.
James Baker Hall's blackly comic coming-of-age novel has been denied, by unfortunate circumstances surrounding its original 1964 publication, its rightful place alongside classics such as Catcher in the Rye and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in the canon of essential late-twentieth-century American fiction.
Set in Lexington, Kentucky, the story unfolds through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Yates Paul. He becomes consumed with revelations about his inattentive father's loneliness, his grandmother's stormy relationship with his boisterous alcoholic uncle, and the frustration of being the best photography assistant in town when no one else knows it. In pursuing his career and falling in love with women twice his age, the precocious Yates falls back on Walter Mittyesque daydreams to cope with a frequently humorous, sometimes dark, world. Long respected among literary insiders, sought after but nearly impossible to obtain, this "lost" classic will finally reach the wider audience it deserves.
Integration in a Deep-Southern Town
In 1970 Brown v. Board of Education was sixteen years old, and fifteen years had passed since the Brown II mandate that schools integrate “with all deliberate speed.” Still, after all this time, it was necessary for the U.S. Supreme Court to order thirty Mississippi school districts—whose speed had been anything but deliberate—to integrate immediately. One of these districts included Yazoo City, the hometown of writer Willie Morris. Installed productively on “safe, sane Manhattan Island,” Morris, though compelled to write about this pivotal moment, was reluctant to return to Yazoo and do no less than serve as cultural ambassador between the flawed Mississippi that he loved and a wider world. “I did not want to go back,” Morris wrote. “I finally went home because the urge to be there during Yazoo’s most critical moment was too elemental to resist, and because I would have been ashamed of myself if I had not.” The result, Yazoo, is part reportage, part memoir, part ethnography, part social critique—and one of the richest accounts we have of a community’s attempt to come to terms with the realities of seismic social change. As infinitely readable and nuanced as ever, Yazoo is available again, enhanced by an informative foreword by historian Jenifer Jensen Wallach and a warm and personal afterword on Morris’s writing life by his widow, JoAnne Prichard Morris.
A Vision for our Century
Cultural Newcomers to Lukumi and Santería in the United States
In the Afro-Cuban Lukumi religious tradition—more commonly known in the United States as Santería—entrants into the priesthood undergo an extraordinary fifty-three-week initiation period. During this time, these novices—called iyawo—endure a host of prohibitions, including most notably wearing exclusively white clothing. In A Year in White, sociologist C. Lynn Carr, who underwent this initiation herself, opens a window on this remarkable year-long religious transformation. In her intimate investigation of the “year in white,” Carr draws on fifty-two in-depth interviews with other participants, an online survey of nearly two hundred others, and almost a decade of her own ethnographic fieldwork, gathering stories that allow us to see how cultural newcomers and natives thought, felt, and acted with regard to their initiation. She documents how, during the iyawo year, the ritual slowly transforms the initiate’s identity. For the first three months, for instance, the iyawo may not use a mirror, even to shave, and must eat all meals while seated on a mat on the floor using only a spoon and their own set of dishes. During the entire year, the iyawo loses their name and is simply addressed as “iyawo” by family and friends. Carr also shows that this year-long religious ritual—which is carried out even as the iyawo goes about daily life—offers new insight into religion in general, suggesting that the sacred is not separable from the profane and indeed that religion shares an ongoing dynamic relationship with the realities of everyday life. Religious expression happens at home, on the streets, at work and school. Offering insight not only into Santería but also into religion more generally, A Year in White makes an important contribution to our understanding of complex, dynamic religious landscapes in multicultural, pluralist societies and how they inhabit our daily lives.