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On Autopoietic Modernities
In his pioneering study The Philosophical Baroque: On Autopoietic Modernities, Erik S. Roraback argues that modern culture, contemplated over its four-century history, resembles nothing so much as the pearl famously described, by periodizers of old, as irregular, barroco. Reframing modernity as a multi-century baroque, Roraback steeps texts by Shakespeare, Henry James, Joyce, and Pynchon in systems theory and the ideas of philosophers of language and culture from Leibniz to such dynamic contemporaries as Luhmann, Benjamin, Blanchot, Deleuze and Guattari, Lacan, and Žižek. The resulting brew, high in intellectual caffeine, will be of value to all who take an interest in cultural modernity—indeed, all who recognize that “modernity” was (and remains) a congeries of competing aesthetic, economic, historical, ideological, philosophical, and political energies
Intertextuality & Subversion
Poetic Revolutionaries is an exploration of the relationship between radical textual practice, social critique and subversion. From an introduction considering recent debates regarding the cultural politics of intertextuality allied to avant-garde practice, the study proceeds to an exploration of texts by a range of writers for whom formal and poetic experimentation is allied to a subversive politics: Jean Genet, Monique Wittig, Angela Carter, Kathy Acker, Kathleen Mary Fallon, Kim Scott and Brian Castro. Drawing on theories of avant-garde practice, intertextuality, parody, representation, and performance such as those of Mikhaïl Bakhtin, Julia Kristeva, Gérard Genette, Margaret A. Rose, Linda Hutcheon, Fredric Jameson, Ross Chambers and Judith Butler, these readings explore how a confluence of writing strategies – covering the structural, narratological, stylistic and scenographic – can work to boost a text’s subversive power.
The Politics of Fiction in Stephen Marlowe’s Historical Narratives
In the 1950s prolific U.S. fiction writer Stephen Marlowe became a cult author for lovers of noir fiction mainly for his Drumbeat series, which present his best-known character: private eye Chester Drum. Yet, the academia never paid much attention to his multifaceted, extensive oeuvre. Chaos and Madness is the first volume offering a critical approach to Marlowe’s riveting historical novels. Their relevance in the field of literary studies derives from their well-wrought structure and captivating prose as well as from their portrayal of remote European history – a distinctive feature that makes Marlowe a unique figure in the North American trend of historiographic metafiction.
Chaos and Madness provides a comprehensive narratological and ideological analysis of three novels in which Marlowe deals with Spanish history. Preceded by an in-depth if reader-friendly theoretical chapter that traces the evolution of the historical novel as a genre, Calvo-Pascual’s meticulous investigation into Marlowe’s fiction proves compelling for anyone interested in contemporary American fiction, in Spanish history, or in the interaction of metafiction and the scientific discourse of chaos theory.
Cut-Up Narratives from William S. Burroughs to the Present
Shift Linguals traces a history of the cut-up method, the experimental writing practice discovered by Brion Gysin and made famous by Beat author William S. Burroughs. From the groundbreaking works of Dada and Surrealism that paved the way for Burroughs’ breakthrough, through the countercultural explosion of the 1960s, Shift Linguals explores the evolution of the cut-ups within the theoretical frameworks of postmodernism and the avant-garde to arrive at the present and the digital age.
Some 50 years on from the first ‘discovery’ of the cut-ups in 1959, it is only now that we are truly able to observe the method’s impact, not only on literature, but on music and culture in a broader sense. The result of over nine years of research, this study represents the first sustained and detailed analysis of the cut-ups as a narrative form. With explorations of the works of Burroughs, Gysin, Kathy Acker, and John Giorno, it also contains the first critical writing on the works of Claude Pélieu and Carl Weissner in English, as well as the first in-depth discussion of the writing of Stewart Home to date.
The Post-Postmodern Syndrome in American Fiction at the Turn of the Millennium
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Do You Feel It Too? explores a new sense of self that is becoming manifest in experimental fiction written by a generation of authors who can be considered the ‘heirs’ of the postmodern tradition. It offers a precise, in-depth analysis of a new, post-postmodern direction in fiction writing, and highlights which aspects are most acute in the post-postmodern novel. Most notable is the emphatic expression of feelings and sentiments and a drive toward inter-subjective connection and communication. The self that is presented in these post-postmodern works of fiction can best be characterized as relational. To analyze this new sense of self, a new interpretational method is introduced that offers a sophisticated approach to fictional selves combining the insights of post-classical narratology and what is called ‘narrative psychology’. Close analyses of three contemporary experimental texts – Infinite Jest (1996) by David Foster Wallace, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000) by Dave Eggers, and House of Leaves (2000) by Mark Danielewski – provide insight into the typical problems that the self experiences in postmodern cultural contexts. Three such problems or ‘symptoms’ are singled out and analyzed in depth: an inability to choose because of a lack of decision-making tools; a difficulty to situate or appropriate feelings; and a structural need for a ‘we’ (a desire for connectivity and sociality). The critique that can be distilled from these texts, especially on the perceived solipsistic quality of postmodern experience worlds, runs parallel to developments in recent critical theory. These developments, in fiction and theory both, signal, in the wake of poststructural conceptions of subjectivity, a perhaps much awaited ‘turn to the human’ in our culture at large today.
Uncertain Mirrors realigns magical realism within a changing critical landscape, from Aristotelian mimesis to Adorno’s concept of negative dialectics. In between, the volume traverses a vast theoretical arena, from postmodernism and postcolonialism to Lévinasian philosophy and eco-criticism. The volume opens and closes with dialectical instability, as it recasts the mutability of the term “mimesis” as both a “world-reflecting” and a “world-creating” mechanism. Magical realism, the authors contend, offers another stance of the possible; it also situates the reader at a hybrid aesthetic matrix inextricably linked to postcolonial theory, postmodernism, Bakhtinian theory, and quantum physics. As Uncertain Mirrors explores, magical realist texts partake of modernist exhaustion as much as of postmodernist replenishment, yet they stem from a different “location of culture” and “direction of culture;” they offer complex aesthetic artifacts that, in their recreation of alternative geographic and semiotic spaces, dislocate hegemonic texts and ideologies. Their unrealistic excess effects a breach in the totalized unity represented by 19th century realism, and plays the dissonant chord of the particular and the non-identical.
Charles S. Peirce and the Pragmatist Negotiations of Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, and Jonathan Safran Foer
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Rethinking Postmodernism(s) revisits three historical sites of American literary postmodernism: the early postmodernism of Thomas Pynchon’s V. (1961), the emancipatory postmodernism of Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), and the late or post-postmodernism of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated (2002). For the first time, it confronts these texts with the pragmatist philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce, staging a conceptual dialogue between pragmatism and postmodernism that historicizes and recontextualizes customary readings of postmodern fiction. The book is a must-read for all interested in current reassessments of literary postmodernism, in new critical dialogues between seminal postmodern texts, and in recent attempts to theorize the ‘post-postmodern’ moment.
Concepts and Strategies of Postmodern American Fiction
This systemic study discusses in its historical, cultural and aesthetic context the postmodern American novel between the years of 1960 and 1980. A general overview of the various definitions of postmodernism in philosophy, cultural theory and aesthetics provides the framework for the inquiry into more specific problems, such as: the broadening of aesthetics, the relationship between aesthetics and ethics, the transformation of the artistic tradition, the interdependence between modernism and postmodernism, and the change in the aesthetics of fiction. Other topics addressed here include: situationalism, montage, the ordinary and the fantastic, the subject and the character, the imagination, comic modes, and the future of the postmodern strategies. The authors whose fiction is treated in some detail under the various aspects thematized are John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Richard Brautigan, Robert Coover, Stanley Elkin, Raymond Federman, William Gaddis, John Hawkes, Jerzy Kosinski, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Ronald Sukenick, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Postmodernism in American Drama
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The Theater of Transformation: Postmodernism in American Drama offers a fresh and innovative reading of the contemporary experimental American theater scene and navigates through the contested and contentious relationship between postmodernism and contemporary drama. This book addresses gender and class as well as racial issues in the context of a theoretical discussion of dramatic texts, textuality, and performance. Transformation is contemporary drama's answer to the questions of postmodernism and a major technique in the development of a postmodern language for the stage. In order to demonstrate the multi-faceted nature of the postmodern theater of transformation, this study draws on a wide range of plays: from early experimental plays of the 1960s by Jean-Claude van Itallie through feminist plays by Megan Terry and Rochelle Owens to more recent drama by the African-American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks.
The Theater of Transformation: Postmodernism in American Drama is written for anyone interested in contemporary American drama and theater as well as in postmodernism and contemporary literary theory. It appeals even more broadly to a readership intrigued by the ubiquitous aspects of popular culture, by feminism and ethnicity, and by issues pertaining to the so-called 'society of spectacle' and the study of contemporary media.
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.