College Literature

College Literature
32.3, Summer 2005
General Issue

CONTENTS

    Lynn, Thomas J.
  • Tricksters Don't Walk the Dogma: Nkem Nwankwo's Danda
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    Subject Headings:
    • Nwankwo, Nkem, 1936- Danda.
    Abstract:
      Igbo village life is nostalgically evoked in Nkem Nwankwo's first novel, Danda (1964), in which the trickster-like title character evades the grasp of Western educational, economic, and religious forces. Danda not only acts irreverently toward ascendant Western cultural influences, but, in keeping with the equivocal nature of the trickster figure, he also trangresses some of the traditional sanctities of the rural West African village he loves. The resources of African oral culture, including the disruptive tendencies of the folk trickster figure, are thus deployed by Nwankwo to depict certain enduring social and political dilemmas without resolving them. While one is engaged and moved by Danda's portrait of an Igbo village, one also finds that few desirable prospects are available to its inhabitants in the wake of colonizing process, for tradition is irrevocably altered and modernity disrupts the communal bonds that gave the village its vitality, integrity, and beauty.
    Smith, Angela Marie.
  • Fiery Constellations: Winterson's Sexing the Cherry and Benjamin's Materialist Historiography
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    Subject Headings:
    • Winterson, Jeanette, 1959- Sexing the cherry.
    • Benjamin, Walter, 1892-1940.
    • History -- Philosophy.
    Abstract:
      Consideration of Jeanette Winterson's novel Sexing the Cherry alongside selected Walter Benjamin essays illuminates the novel's commitment to a politicized historical narrative. Like Benjamin's essays, Sexing interweaves strains of materialist, postmodern, and redemptive historiographies. First, the novel's reinterpretation of England's Puritan Revolution enacts a Benjaminian materialist historiography in adopting elements of pre-modern storytelling, and attending to stories of the marginalized, "constellated" with present-day revolutionary moments, although Winterson's revision also foregrounds the roles of sexuality and gender in historiographic narrative. Second, the novel's postmodern traits, particularly the figure of the hybrid cherry, index the kind of historical narrative Benjamin mandated, grafting together narrative forms, and transplanting history into the present through artistic/technological acts of representation/reproduction. And third, the novel's evocations of light and space recall Benjamin's theological vision of Messianic time; both authors implant images of transcendence in their political historiographies, finding redemptive possibilities in the sparks and fragments of history.
    Clements, Elicia.
  • Virginia Woolf, Ethel Smyth, and Music: Listening as a Productive Mode of Social Interaction
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    Subject Headings:
    • Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941. Between the acts.
    • Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941 -- Friends and associates.
    • Smyth, Ethel, 1858-1944 -- Friends and associates.
    • Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941 -- Knowledge -- Music.
    Abstract:
      The correspondence between Virginia Woolf and Ethel Smyth reveals that Woolf's interactions with her friend reverberate in her thinking about cultural meaning. Aesthetic and social ideas that circulate around notions of music, subjectivity, difference, and community emerge from an examination of the relationship. In turn, these concepts resurface in her final novel, Between the Acts, when Woolf's thematic depiction of music becomes especially conspicuous. Woolf's representations of the sonorous art and Miss La Trobe enable her to explore alternative models of social organization. Ultimately, as Woolf listened apperceptively to her friend and colleague, the novel asks the same of the reader: to hear the heterogeneous voices of diversity.
    Chamberlain, Stephanie.
  • Fantasizing Infanticide: Lady Macbeth and the Murdering Mother in Early Modern England
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    Subject Headings:
    • Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Macbeth.
    • Macbeth, Lady (Fictitious character)
    • Infanticide -- England.
    Abstract:
      Lady Macbeth's reference to motherhood and infanticide near the end of act one of Macbeth remains one of the more enigmatic moments in all of Shakespeare's drama. Fearing Macbeth's wavering commitment to their succession scheme, Lady Macbeth declares that she would have murdered her infant to realize an otherwise unachievable goal. Scholars have traditionally read this declaration as evidence of Lady Macbeth's attempt to seize a masculine power to further her husband's political goals. While she clearly seeks power, such power is, I would argue, conditioned on the maternal, an ambiguous, often conflicted status in early modern England: one which enables Lady Macbeth to slip the gendered constraints that bind her. This paper examines representations of murdering mothers in Elizabethan and Jacobean assize records alongside Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth, arguing that the maternal ultimately represented a threat to the process of patrilineal transmission in early modern England.
    Haslam, Jason.
  • Coded Discourse: Romancing the (Electronic) Shadow in The Matrix
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    Subject Headings:
    • Wachowski, Andy, 1967-, dir. Matrix (Motion picture)
    • Wachowski, Larry, 1965-, dir.
    • Race in motion pictures.
    • Sex in motion pictures.
    Abstract:
      Haslam argues that criticism on the Wachowski Brothers' film, The Matrix (1999), has generally followed along the lines of early criticism surrounding the cyberpunk fiction of the late 1980s, which is usually seen as being founded by, and epitomized in, William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer. Within this critical framework, The Matrix is supposedly the filmic refinement of the posthuman, indeterminate identity some see as being offered by cyberpunk fiction. Haslam, however, relying in part on a second strain of criticism surrounding cyberpunk, questions whether The Matrix and its sequels truly offer a radical critique of enlightenment subjectivity, or instead reproduce dominant ontological biases, specifically as they surround gender and race. The Matrix, Haslam suggests, can be read as a text that allows both of these readings, using a disturbed and disturbing set of plots and images surrounding gender and race that can be seen to point to the difficulties surrounding the performative nature of dominance as such.
    Valerius, Karyn.
  • Rosemary's Baby, Gothic Pregnancy, and Fetal Subjects
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    Subject Headings:
    • Polanski, Roman, dir. Rosemary's baby [film]
    • Pregnancy in motion pictures.
    • Abortion -- Government policy -- United States.
    Abstract:
      This discussion reads Rosemary's Baby in relation to public discourse on abortion in the United States. It argues, first, that when Rosemary's Baby is located historically in relation to the criminalization of abortion prior to 1973 and the idealization of maternity for married, middle class, white women, this story of a frightening pregnancy evokes feminist arguments for sexual and reproductive freedom. Second, at the present moment Rosemary's terrifying experience also suggests the dangerous effects of anti-maternal, pro-natal public discourse and social policy for low-income pregnant women who wish to carry a pregnancy to term.
    Norris, Margot.
  • Teaching World War I Poetry--Comparatively
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    Subject Headings:
    • World War, 1939-1945 -- Literature and the war.
    • English poetry -- 20th century -- Study and teaching (Higher)
    • German poetry -- 20th century -- Study and teaching (Higher)
    Abstract:
      The experimental poetic forms developed by Modernism and Vorticism in pre-World War I England failed to meet the needs of soldier-poets attempting to convey a whole new reality produced by their combat experience. "Teaching World War I Poetry-Comparatively" offers a plan for teaching English and German trench poetry side by side, with the aim of conveying to students how significantly cultural contexts and the institutions of publishing can influence the development of poetic forms. Such a procedure teaches students to counter national characterizations with specific historical and cultural analyses to account for the possibilities of poetic expression under ideological pressure in times of war. In addition to suggesting avenues for discussion, the essay offers readings of a variety of World War I poems to illustrate the accompanying analysis.
    Waller, Marguerite R., 1948-
  • Epistemologies of Engagement
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    Subject Headings:
    • Feminist theory.
    • Knowledge, Theory of.
    Abstract:
      An entrenched Western philosophical will to mastery habitually codes irreducible differences as obstacles to truth and to political action. Instead, I argue that these differences are our most valuable resource, crucial nodes of potential dialogue, epistemological transformation, and effective political action. Philosophically and historically implicated in the racist, sexist, classist episteme they are also trying to challenge, U.S. academic feminists, among other critics of empire, need themselves to be challenged on the most fundamental levels, a process which cannot be undertaken unilaterally. Noncolonizing, nonhierarchical dialogue both requires and enables such a transformation.

Review Essays

    Clewell, Tammy.
  • The Making of a New Virginia Woolf Icon
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    Subject Headings:
    • Black, Naomi, 1935- Virginia Woolf as feminist.
    • Cuddy-Keane, Melba. Virginia Woolf, the intellectual, and the public sphere.
    • Humm, Maggie. Modernist women and visual cultures: Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, photography, and cinema.
    • Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941 -- Criticism and interpretation.
    • Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941 -- Knowledge and learning.
    Recchio, Thomas.
  • Novel Interventions: Science, Pseudo-science, and the Law
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    Subject Headings:
    • Levine, Caroline, 1970- Serious pleasures of suspense: Victorian realism & narrative doubt.
    • Richardson, Angelique, 1970- Love and eugenics in the late nineteenth century: rational reproduction & the new woman.
    • Rodensky, Lisa. Crime in mind: criminal responsibility and the Victorian novel.
    • English fiction -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
    • English fiction -- Women authors -- History and criticism.

Book Reviews

    Drew, Julie.
  • Public Spaces, Private Lives: Democracy Beyond 9/11 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Giroux, Henry A. Public spaces, private lives: democracy beyond 9/11.
    • Kellner, Douglas, 1943-
    • Democracy -- United States.
    Adams, Jeffrey Todd.
  • Reading the Family Dance: Family Systems Therapy and Literary Study (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Knapp, John V., 1940-, ed. Reading the family dance: family systems therapy and literary study.
    • Womack, Kenneth, ed.
    • Family in literature.
    Pollard, Scott.
  • Transvestism, Masculinity and Latin American Literature: Gender Shares Flesh (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Sifuentes-Jáuregui, Ben. Transvestism, masculinity and Latin American literature: gender shares flesh.
    • Spanish American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
    Acheson, Katherine O., 1963-
  • Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Wells, Stanley W., 1930-, ed. Shakespeare: an Oxford guide.
    • Orlin, Lena Cowen, ed.
    • Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Criticism and interpretation -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.

Appendix




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