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Comic Subversions and Unlaughter in Contemporary Historical Re-Visions
This volume highlights humour’s crucial role in shaping historical re-visions of the long nineteenth century, through modes ranging from subtle irony, camp excess, ribald farce, and aesthetic parody to blackly comic narrative games. It analyses neo-Victorian humour’s politicisation, its ideological functions and ethical implications across varied media, including fiction, drama, film, webcomics, and fashion. Contemporary humour maps the assumed distance between postmodernity and its targeted nineteenth-century referents only to repeatedly collapse the same in a seemingly self-defeating nihilistic project. This collection explores how neo-Victorian humour generates empathy and effective socio-political critique, dispensing symbolic justice, but also risks recycling the past’s invidious ideologies under the politically correct guise of comic debunking, even to the point of negating laughter itself.


"This rich and innovative collection invites us to reflect on the complex and various deployments of humour in neo-Victorian texts, where its consumers may wish at times that they could swallow back the laughter a scene or event provokes. It covers a range of approaches to humour utilised by neo-Victorian writers, dramatists, graphic novelists and filmmakers – including the deliberately and pompously unfunny, the traumatic, the absurd, the ribald, and the frankly distasteful – producing a richly satisfying anthology of innovative readings of ‘canonical’ neo-Victorian texts as well as those which are potential generic outliers. The collection explores what is funny in the neo-Victorian and who we are laughing at – the Victorians, as we like to imagine them, or ourselves, in ways we rarely acknowledge? This is a celebration of the parodic playfulness of a wide range of texts, from fiction to fashion, whilst offering a trenchant critique of the politics of postmodern laughter that will appeal to those working in adaptation studies, gender and queer studies, as well as literary and cultural studies more generally."
- Prof. Imelda Whelehan, University of Tasmania, Australia
Volume Editors: Jana Gohrisch and Ellen Grünkemeier
Bringing together contributions from various disciplines and academic fields, this collection engages in interdisciplinary dialogue on postcolonial issues. Covering African, anglophone, Romance, and New-World themes, linguistic, literary, and cultural studies, and historiography, music, art history, and textile studies, the volume raises questions of (inter)disciplinarity, methodology, and entangled histories.
The essays focus on the representation of slavery in the transatlantic world (the USA, Jamaica, Haiti, and the wider Caribbean, West Africa, and the UK). Drawing on a range of historical sources, material objects, and representations, they study Jamaican Creole, African masks, knitted objects, patchwork sculpture, newspapers, films, popular music, and literature of different genres from the Caribbean, West and South Africa, India, and Britain. At the same time, they reflect on theoretical problems such as intertextuality, intermediality, and cultural exchange, and explore intersections – postcolonial literature and transatlantic history; postcolonial and African-American studies; postcolonial literary and cultural studies. The final section keys in with the overall aim of challenging established disciplinary modes of knowledge production: exploring schools and universities as locations of postcolonial studies. Teachers investigate the possibilities and limits of their respective institutions and probe new ways of engaging with postcolonial concerns.
With its integrative, interdisciplinary focus, this collection addresses readers interested in understanding how colonization and globalization have influenced societies and cultures around the world.
Contributors: Anja Bandau, Sabine Broeck, Sarah Fekadu, Matthias Galler, Janou Glencross, Jana Gohrisch, Ellen Grünkemeier, Jessica Hemmings, Jan Hüsgen, Johannes Salim Ismaiel–Wendt, Ursula Kluwick, Henning Marquardt, Dennis Mischke, Timo Müller, Mala Pandurang, Carl Plasa, Elinor Jane Pohl, Brigitte Reinwald, Steffen Runkel, Andrea Sand, Cecile Sandten, Frank Schulze–Engler, Melanie Ulz, Reinhold Wandel, Tim Watson
Writing in the Key of Life
Volume Editors: Bénédicte Ledent and Daria Tunca
Writing in the Key of Life is the first critical collection devoted to the British-Caribbean author Caryl Phillips, a major voice in contemporary anglophone literatures. Phillips’s impressive body of fiction, drama, and non-fiction has garnered wide praise for its formal inventiveness and its incisive social criticism as well as its unusually sensitive understanding of the human condition.
The twenty-six contributions offered here, including two by Phillips himself, address the fundamental issues that have preoccupied the writer in his now three-decades-long career – the enduring legacy of history, the intricate workings of identity, and the pervasive role of race, class, and gender in societies worldwide.
Most of Phillips’s writing is covered here, in essays that approach it from various thematic and interpretative angles. These include the interplay of fact and fiction, Phillips’s sometimes ambiguous literary affiliations, his long-standing interest in the black and Jewish diasporas, his exploration of Britain and its ‘Others’, and his recurrent use of motifs such as masking and concealment.
Writing in the Key of Life testifies to the vitality of Phillipsian scholarship and confirms the significance of an artist whose concerns, at once universal and topical, find particular resonance with the state of the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Contributors: Thomas Bonnici, Fatim Boutros, Gordon Collier, Sandra Courtman, Stef Craps, Alessandra Di Maio, Malik Ferdinand, Cindy Gabrielle, Lucie Gillet, Dave Gunning, Tsunehiko Kato, Wendy Knepper, Bénédicte Ledent, John McLeod, Peter H. Marsden, Joan Miller Powell, Imen Najar, Caryl Phillips, Renée Schatteman, Kirpal Singh, Petra Tournay–Theodotou, Chika Unigwe, Itala Vivan, Abigail Ward, Louise Yelin
Witi Ihimaera and New Zealand’s Literary Traditions
Author: Melissa Kennedy
Striding Both Worlds illuminates European influences in the fiction of Witi Ihimaera, Aotearoa New Zealand’s foremost Māori writer, in order to question the common interpretation of Māori writing as displaying a distinctive Māori world-view and literary style. Far from being discrete endogenous units, all cultures and literatures arise out of constant interaction, engagement, and even friction. Thus, Māori culture since the 1970s has been shaped by a long history of interaction with colonial British, Pakeha, and other postcolonial and indigenous cultures. Māori sovereignty and renaissance movements have harnessed the structures of European modernity, nation-building, and, more recently, Western global capitalism, transculturation, and diaspora – contexts which contest New Zealand bicultural identity, encouraging Māori to express their difference and self-sufficiency.
Ihimaera’s fiction has been largely viewed as embodying the specific values of Māori renaissance and biculturalism. However, Ihimaera, in his techniques, modes, and themes, is indebted to a wider range of literary influences than national literary critique accounts for. In taking an international literary perspective, this book draws critical attention to little-known or disregarded aspects such as Ihimaera’s love of opera, the extravagance of his baroque lyricism, his exploration of fantasy, and his increasing interest in taking Māori into the global arena. In revealing a broad range of cultural and aesthetic influences and inter-references commonly seen as irrelevant to contemporary Māori literature, Striding Both Worlds argues for a hitherto frequently overlooked and undervalued depth and complexity to Ihimaera’s imaginary.
The present study argues that an emphasis on difference tends to lose sight of fiction’s capacity to appreciate originality and individuality in the polyphony of its very form and function. In effect, literary negotiation of Māori sovereign space takes place in its forms rather than in its content: the uniqueness of Māori literature is found in the way it uses the common tools of literary fiction, including language, imagery, the text’s relationship to reality, and the function of characterization. By interpeting aspects of Ihimaera’s oeuvre for what they share with other literatures in English, Striding Both Worlds aims to present an additional, complementary approach to Māori, New Zealand, and postcolonial literary analysis.
Author: Fiona Tolan
Margaret Atwood: Feminism and Fiction takes a new look at the complex relationship between Margaret Atwood’s fiction and feminist politics.
Examining in detail the concerns and choices of an author who has frequently been termed feminist but has famously rejected the label on many occasions, this book traces the influences of feminism in Atwood’s work and simultaneously plots moments of dissent or debate.
Fiona Tolan presents a clear and detailed study of the first eleven novels of one of Canada’s most prominent authors. Each chapter can be read as an individual textual analysis, whilst the chronological structure provides a fascinating insight into the shifting concerns of a popular and influential author over a period of nearly thirty-five years.
Volume Editors: Susana Onega and Christian Gutleben
Contemporary works of art that remodel the canon not only create complex, hybrid and plural products but also alter our perceptions and understanding of their source texts. This is the dual process, referred to in this volume as “refraction”, that the essays collected here set out to discuss and analyse by focusing on the dialectic rapport between postmodernism and the canon. What is sought in many of the essays is a redefinition of postmodernist art and a re-examination of the canon in the light of contemporary epistemology. Given this dual process, this volume will be of value both to everyone interested in contemporary art—particularly fiction, drama and film—and also to readers whose aim it is to promote a better appreciation of canonical British literature.
Studying postcolonial literatures in English can (and indeed should) make a human rights activist of the reader – there is, after all, any amount of evidence to show the injustices and inhumanity thrown up by processes of decolonization and the struggle with past legacies and present corruptions. Yet the human-rights aspect of postcolonial literary studies has been somewhat marginalized by scholars preoccupied with more fashionable questions of theory.
The present collection seeks to redress this neglect, whereby the definition of human rights adopted is intentionally broad. The volume reflects the human rights situation in many countries from Mauritius to New Zealand, from the Cameroon to Canada. It includes a focus on the Malawian writer Jack Mapanje.
The contributors’ concerns embrace topics as varied as denotified tribes in India, female genital mutilation in Africa, native residential schools in Canada, political violence in Northern Ireland, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the discourse of the Treaty of Waitangi. The editors hope that the very variety of responses to the invitation to reflect on questions of “Literature and Human Rights” will both stimulate further discussion and prompt action.
Contributors are: Edward O. Ako, Hilarious N. Ambe, Ken Arvidson, Jogamaya Bayer, Maggie Ann Bowers, Chandra Chatterjee, Lindsey Collen, G.N. Devy, James Gibbs, J.U. Jacobs, Karen King–Aribisala, Sindiwe Magona, Lee Maracle, Stuart Marlow, Don Mattera, Wumi Raji. Lesego Rampolokeng, Dieter Riemenschneider, Ahmed Saleh, Jamie S. Scott, Mark Shackleton, Johannes A. Smit, Peter O. Stummer, Robert Sullivan, Rajiva Wijesinha, Chantal Zabus
Social and Imaginary Space in Writings by Chicanas
Of interest to informed readers responsive to combined textual and cultural approaches to Chicano/a literature and literature in general, Battleground and Crossroads weaves in various critical and theoretical threads to inquire into the relationship between intimate and public spaces in Chicana literature. Without claiming the borderlands as exclusive of the Chicana/o imagination, this book acknowledges the importance of this metaphor for bringing to view a more intercultural United States, allowing it to become inflected with the particularity of each text. The analyses of Chicana fiction, drama, and autobiography explore the construction of identity through the representation of social space and the transformation of literary space. For discussion of a diacritical territory this volume draws on a interdisciplinary practice that facilitates the journey from the most intimate spaces to the most public spaces of modernity, so that the aesthetic text yields its knowledge of the contingent historical circumstances of its production in material and existential terms. The apparent regionalism and localism of this literature is nothing but a reflection of the relationship between the local and the global, the private and the public, the personal and the political, the aesthetic and the ideological, the subversive and the mainstream. Each text stands by itself while it also reaches out to the sociopolitical imaginary for interpretation through an interdisciplinary methodology that is indispensable to do justice to a politicized aesthetics.
Sites of Play in Canadian Women’s Writing
This volume takes up the challenge of Canadian women's writing in its diversity, in order to examine the terms on which subjectivity, in its social, political and literary dimensions, emerges as discourse. Work from writers as diverse as Dionne Brand, Hiromi Goto and Margaret Atwood, among others, are studied both in their specific dimensions and through the collective focus of cultural and textual revision which characterizes Canadian writing in the feminine. Current theorizing on the postcolonial imaginary is brought to bear in the interests of forging or unpacking those links which tie the Self to culture. As such, Redefining the Subject sets out to discover the limits of the aesthetic in its encounter with the political: the figures and designs which envisage textual reimaginings as statements of a contemporary Canadian reality.
The present collection of essays is the outcome of the Oscar Wilde conference held at the Technical University of Dresden, 31 August - 3 September 2000. The papers cover a wide range of historical and comparative aspects: they look into the status of Wilde as poet, dramatist, essayist and intellectual during his own times as well as investigate the meaning of his work for subsequent writers and critics, thus, giving an outline of the Wildean history of literary reception, intellectual discourse and media transformation. Intellectually brilliant and challenging, Oscar Wilde had been a favourite of the late Victorians, performing the roles of the dandy and the poet of art for art's sake. However, due to his questioning of prevalent moral double standards and his insistence on the autonomy of art, he was indicted for gross indecencies, convicted, and sent to prison. Instead of being ostracised, he became a source of inspiration for writers and artists on the British isles as well as on the European continent.
The papers in this volume explore such topics as Wilde's concepts of socialism and aestheticism, his fashioning of the femme fatale and of the dandy, his use of fashion and of simulation, his impact on modernism and postmodernism as well as on genres such as crime writing and fictional biography, and the influence of Wilde on writers such as James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Joe Orton, Peter Ackroyd, Tom Stoppard, David Hare and Mark Ravenhill. Other papers focus on the reception of Wilde in Russia, former Yugoslavia, Hungary and Germany as well as on cinematic and Internet representations of Wilde. Critical and creative responses vary from the general to the specific – from traditional assessments to analyses of the arts of camp, parody, and pastiche; thus, indicative of the (sub)cultural appropriation of 'Saint Oscar' (Terry Eagleton).