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Empire, Tourism, Nostalgia
Expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 and honored with the Nobel Prize fifteen years later, poet Joseph Brodsky in many ways fit the grand tradition of exiled writer. But Brodsky’s years of exile did not render him immobile: though he never returned to his beloved Leningrad, he was free to travel the world and write about it. In Brodsky Abroad, Sanna Turoma discusses Brodsky’s poems and essays about Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, and Venice. Challenging traditional conceptions behind Brodsky’s status as a leading émigré poet and major descendant of Russian and Euro-American modernism, she relocates the analysis of his travel texts in the diverse context of contemporary travel and its critique. Turoma views Brodsky’s travel writing as a response not only to his exile but also to the postmodern and postcolonial landscape that initially shaped the writing of these texts.
In his Latin American encounters, Brodsky exhibits disdain for third-world politics and invokes the elegiac genre to reject Mexico’s postcolonial reality and to ironically embrace the romanticism of an earlier Russian and European imperial age. In an essay on Istanbul he assumes Russia’s ambiguous position between East and West as his own to negotiate a distinct, and controversial, interpretation of Orientalism. And, Venice, the emblematic tourist city, becomes the site for a reinvention of his lyric self as more fluid, hybrid, and cosmopolitan.
Brodsky Abroad reveals the poet’s previously uncharted trajectory from alienated dissident to celebrated man of letters and offers new perspectives on the geopolitical, philosophical, and linguistic premises of his poetic imagination.
Alexander Pushkin’s lyric poetry—much of it known to Russians by heart—is the cornerstone of the Russian literary tradition, yet until now there has been no detailed commentary of it in any language.
Michael Wachtel’s book, designed for those who can read Russian comfortably but not natively, provides the historical, biographical, and cultural context needed to appreciate the work of Russia’s greatest poet. Each entry begins with a concise summary highlighting the key information about the poem’s origin, subtexts, and poetic form (meter, stanzaic structure, and rhyme scheme). In line-by-line fashion, Wachtel then elucidates aspects most likely to challenge non-native readers: archaic language, colloquialisms, and unusual diction or syntax. Where relevant, he addresses political, religious, and folkloric issues.
Pushkin’s verse has attracted generations of brilliant interpreters. The purpose of this commentary is not to offer a new interpretation, but to give sufficient linguistic and cultural contextualization to make informed interpretation possible.
In The Cultural Origins of the Socialist Realist Aesthetic, Irina Gutkin brings together the best work written on the subject to argue that socialist realism encompassed a philosophical worldview that marked thinking in the USSR on all levels: political, social, and linguistic. Using a wealth of diverse cultural material, Gutkin traces the emergence of the central tenants of socialist realist theory from Symbolism and Futurism through the 1920s and 1930s.
Dialogics of the Oppressed was first published in 1992. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Formulated within and against the context of Russian formalism that became the backbone of semiotics, Mikhail Bakhtin's work has enabled contemporary critical theories to return to specific sociopolitical and historical moments that had been closed off by formalist abstractions. In Dialogics of the Oppressed, Peter Hitchcock looks through the lens of Bakhtin's theory of dialogism for an analysis of subaltern writing. Rather than assume an integral "subaltern subject" as the object of analysis, Hitchcock - in case studies of four global feminists, Nawal el Saadawi, Pat Barker, Zhang Jie, and Agnes Smedley - emphasizes the cultural agency of the subaltern and shows the political implications this agency might have for literary analysis in general and cultural studies in particular.
"Presents a provocative set of readings-through the Bakhtinian model of dialogism-of texts by four women writers of the twentieth century. . . instructive and compelling." Barbara Harlow, University of Texas
Dialogics of the Oppressed argues from an internationalistic perspective to underline that the heterogeneity of dialogic feminism itself constitutes a significant array of discursive resistance to the hegemony of disciplines and so-called area studies operative in the metropolitan First World academy. Hitchcock demonstrates through dialogic analyses of the writings of these four feminists that a form of multicultural materialism can itself disrupt the restrictive logics and practices of literary studies in the Western academy, and that indeed, there is a counterlogic in the culture of the subaltern. Hitchcock's underlying objective is the development of a powerful critique of the epistemological bases of the academy that marginalize and devalorize certain cultural productions and subjects, as well as a cognitive mapping of the politics of pedagogy in current transformations of disciplinarity.
Peter Hitchcock is professor of English at Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is the author of Working-Class Fiction in Theory and Practice and has published essays on radical writing, multiculturalism, film, and Third World fiction.
A Reading of Alexander Pushkin's Boris Godunov
In an ambitious reinterpretation of the premier work of Russia's national poet, J. Douglas Clayton reads Boris Godunov as the expression of Alexander Pushkin's thinking about the Russian state, especially the Russian state of his own time (some two hundred years distant from the events of the play), and even his own place within that state. Here we see how the play marks a sharp break with the Decembrists and Pushkin's own youthful liberalism, signaling its author's emergence as a Russian conservative. Boris Godunov, Clayton argues, can be best understood as an ideologically conservative defense of autocracy.