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Material Difference

Modernism and the Allegories of Discourse

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William D. Melaney

Material Difference: Modernism and the Allegories of Discourse argues that deconstruction can be employed in conjunction with the historically-oriented approach to cultural experience that is favored by Critical Theory. The two discourses that inform this comparative study situate Modernism between evolving traditions that begin with Hegel and Nietzsche, leading on to Adorno’s commitment to philosophical aesthetics and Derrida’s concern for writing ( écriture). Interrelated discussions of eight major authors, working in four different languages, are presented to show how allegorical Modernism foreshadows the possibility of cultural history. Joyce, Kafka, Malraux, Rilke, and Stevens are among the authors discussed in this book. The notion of material difference allows literature to be redefined in semiotic terms and demonstrates how the allegorical imagination mediates between art and time.

Difference Unbound

The Rise of Pluralism in Literature and Criticism. 2nd Edition

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Stamos Metzidakis

This is the first book to examine the precise relationship between pluralism and the production of Western literature and criticism from the eighteenth century to the present. It underscores the historical rather than exclusively epistemological reasons behind what is here called “the rise of literary pluralism.” This rise entails, on the one hand, the modern day phenomenon of an ever-increasing number of readings of both canonical and contemporary works of verbal art; and, on the other, our ever-growing body of literature written with an eye towards different types of characters, situations, forms and styles. Reviewing a wide range of authors and thinkers—from German, French and English Romantics to Anglo-American and European poststructuralist theorists—it shows how and why the current literary emphasis on difference derives from an unquestioned allegiance to the notion of cultural pluralism. While never denying the value of the latter, it seeks instead to analyze the oftentimes unquestioned implications of this historically-situated belief within the specific realm of literary studies.

Theory into Poetry

New Approaches to the Lyric

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Edited by Eva Müller-Zettelmann and Margarete Rubik

At the beginning of the 21st century, there is still no generally accepted comprehensive definition of the lyric or differentiated modern toolkit for its analysis. The reception of poetry is largely characterised either by an empathetic identification of critics with the lyric persona or by exclusive interest in formal patterning.
The present volume seeks to remedy this deficit. All the contributors ‘theorise’ the lyric to overcome the impasse of an impressionistic and narrowly formalistic critical debate on the genre. Their papers focus on a variety of different questions: the problem of establishing a framework for definition and classification; the search for dynamic and potent critical approaches; investigations of poetry's cultural performance and its fundamental relevance for the construction of group cohesion.
The essays collected in this volume offer a consciously polyphonic range of theories and interpretations, suggesting to the reader a variety of theoretical frameworks and practical illustrations of how a discussion of poetry may be firmly grounded in modern literary theory.

Yves Bonnefoy essayiste

Modernité et présence

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Daniel Acke

Yves Bonnefoy passe pour un des poètes français majeurs de l'après-guerre. Si sa poésie a suscité de nombreux commentaires, on s'est moins intéressé jusqu'à présent à son oeuvre critique et à sa contribution aux débats contemporains sur le destin de la modernité. L'étude de Daniel Acke montre que la mise en question du langage ou de la mimésis est au coeur des essais de Bonnefoy sur Baudelaire, Poussin, Giacometti et d'autres artistes; elle éclaire les implications esthétiques de la conception de l'auteur, ses présupposés philosophiques et ses rapports à la postmodernité.
Représentation indirecte du monde, le langage envahit l'ensemble des productions humaines, des différents systèmes de signes à l'action, en passant par la libido. Il incarne l'attitude prométhéenne de notre civilisation, visant la maîtrise du monde et d'autrui. L'art et la littérature exemplifient cette attitude réductrice. L'homme est privé de l'Un ou de la présence, qui assurait le contact immédiat entre les êtres et les choses. Seule l'existence individuelle marquée par la contingence peut assurer l'accès à la présence. Cette démarche suppose la rencontre avec autrui et l'intuition des correspondances profondes qui unissent les choses de la terre. Ainsi, l'être authentique est le résultat d'un échange symbolique, au sens étymologique du terme, en deçà de toute mimésis.
Aujourd'hui, cependant, la présence exige une approche patiente et indirecte, dont le langage poétique a malgré tout l'apanage. La dialectique de Bonnefoy lui permet d'acquiescer au constat postmoderne de la faillite de nos systèmes de signes, tout en continuant à adhérer à l'idée romantique d'un Sens réalisé par l'art.

La création en acte

Devenir de la critique génétique

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Edited by Paul Gifford and Marion Schmid

À l’aube de notre jeune XXIe siècle, la critique génétique se trouve enfin en mesure de faire le point sur son passé et de tracer les grandes lignes de son avenir : qu’est-elle susceptible d’apporter à d’autres approches critiques telles que la sociologie, l’intertextualité et l’herméneutique ? Comment modifie-t-elle notre compréhension des œuvres littéraires, ainsi que notre conception du texte ? Pourquoi, trente ans après son émergence dans le paysage critique, continue-t-elle à susciter la méfiance, voire l’hostilité dans les milieux universitaires ? Quelles seront ses pistes d’investigation et problématiques futures ? Quelles nouvelles voies les technologies comme l’hypertexte et les hypermédias ouvrent-elles en matière d’édition et de pédagogie ? Voilà quelques-unes des questions que se sont posées les auteurs du présent volume, spécialistes en critique génétique et en critique littéraire de part et d’autre de la Manche et de l’Atlantique.
Illustrant l’activité courante du généticien et soulevant d’importantes questions théoriques, cet ouvrage se veut bilan de la discipline autant que panorama de ses possibles. Dans cette double perspective, il se propose d’évaluer l’état présent des études génétiques, de déterminer leur spécificité parmi les différentes approches critiques du texte, ainsi que d’apprécier l’aptitude de la génétique à réorienter, voire à renouveler la critique littéraire. Résolument interdisciplinaires, les travaux présentés examinent les grands débats qui ont eu lieu à l’intérieur de la discipline et à ses frontières, comparent des cas de genèse s’échelonnant du XVIe au XXe siècle, et tentent d’évaluer les acquis de la critique génétique et son impact sur la théorie et la pratique littéraires.

The Genius of Scotland

The Cultural Production of Robert Burns, 1785-1834

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Corey E Andrews

The Genius of Scotland: The Cultural Production of Robert Burns, 1785-1834 explores the wide-ranging reception history of Robert Burns by examining the sources of his reputation as the ‘Genius of Scotland’ in the Scottish Enlightenment and beyond. Evaluating his changing stature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the book investigates the figure of Burns as a ‘cultural production’ that was constructed by warring cultural forces in the literary marketplace. The critical promotion of Burns as the ‘Heaven-taught ploughman’ greatly influenced his legacy as a labouring-class ‘genius’ and national icon, both of which relied on blatant censorship and distortion of his biography and works. The Genius of Scotland debunks both the hagiographic and vituperative representations of the poet from this period, revealing not only how (and why) he was culturally produced as a national ‘genius’ but also how the process continues to influence our understanding of Burns into the present day.

Art and the Human Adventure

André Malraux’s Theory of Art

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Derek Allan

André Malraux was a major figure in French intellectual life in the twentieth century. A key component of his thought is his theory of art which presents a series of fundamental challenges to traditional explanations of the nature and purpose of art developed by post-Enlightenment aesthetics. For Malraux, art – whether visual art, literature or music – is much more than a locus of beauty or a source of “aesthetic pleasure”; it is one of the ways humanity defends itself against its fundamental sense of meaninglessness – one of the ways the “human adventure” is affirmed.
Here for the first time is a comprehensive, step by step exposition, supported by illustrations, of Malraux’s theory of art as presented in major works such as The Voices of Silence and The Metamorphosis of the Gods. Suitable for both newcomers to Malraux and more advanced students, the study also examines critical responses to these works by figures such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Blanchot, Pierre Bourdieu, and E. H. Gombrich, and compares Malraux’s thinking with aspects of contemporary Anglo-American aesthetics. The study reveals that an account of art which Gombrich once dismissed as “sophisticated double-talk” is in reality a thoroughly coherent and highly enlightening system of thought, with revolutionary implications for the way we think about art.

This Deleuzian Century

Art, Activism, Life

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Edited by Rosi Braidotti and Rick Dolphijn

According to Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) philosophy is not for the privileged few or the specialized ones: it is an activity that appeals to anyone who is attuned to the desire for the ethical life. Inspired by Spinoza’s concepts of desire and freedom, Deleuze’s ethical life is a life that aims at experimenting with sustainable ways of coping with the earth, with society, with the long term struggles and contemporary crisis that matter to us all. An ethical life defines thinking as the invention/intervention of new concepts and takes the risk of working with them in the real world. This book has been written in this spirit of free explorations of intensities. It explores the entanglements between art, activism and life in the service of training us to live ethically. Contrary to morality, which is the implementation of socially accepted rules and regulations, ethics requires an analysis of the power relations that structure our interaction as relational subjects, in order to enable us to deal with them.
The original contributions presented in this volume aim to set these ideas to work in contemporary practices, exploring the ways in which Deleuze’s thought continues to be relevant at the start of the 21st century. As a product of the “Deleuze Circle”, an open collaboration between academics situated in the Low Countries started in 2008, the chapters in this book contribute to our ongoing conversations on how to live the ethical life today in academia, in art but above all in our multiple ecologies of belonging.

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Solveig Hudhomme

Dans L'Elaboration du mythe de soi Solveig Hudhomme démontre comment les oeuvres de Samuel Beckett construisent leur propre mythe, mythe d'un espace, d'une intériorité permanente par-delà les frontières textuelles. Cette intériorité, ce que l'on peut appeler "le soi", est un lieu affranchi du biographique, du "moi", mais peuplé d'invariants. Cette étude se concentre sur la façon dont les histoires introduisent un principe de répétition et de reconnaissance, reconnaissance d'un lieu, d'une trame, d'un personnage. Dans l'ordre du récit, la contingence laisse place à la nécessité.

In L'Elaboration du mythe du soi Solveig Hudhomme highlights how Samuel Beckett’s works build a myth of their own, the myth of a space, a permanent inner space going beyond the textual boundaries. This inner place, "the self" as we can call it, is a place liberated from biography, from the « ego » but also a place in which some invariants can be found. This study focuses on the way stories introduce a principle of repetition so that the reader can recognize a place, a narrative, a character. As the story develops, contingency slowly grows into necessity.

Subject Matters

Subject and Self in French Literature from Descartes to the present

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Edited by Paul Gifford and Johnnie Gration

What can we currently make of ‘the subject'? Under the sway of structuralism and poststructuralism, critical thinking took a distinctly negative turn, effectively disqualifying any form of subjectivity as a reference point in discussions of textual or literary meaning. Since the mid-1970s, however, throughout the human sciences, human agency has been restored as both a methodological principle and an ethical value: a phenomenon broadly designated as ‘the return of the subject'. Yet the returning subject bears the traces of its problematization...
The present collection of essays explores the ways in which the subject now ‘matters', both in principle and in the variety of critical approaches in authorizes. Essays, which are both literary and theoretical in character, cover authors, texts and issues in French literature from Descartes to the present. A wide range of types of writing is examined, from established forms such as the novel to relatively marginal and generically unsystematized discursive practices such as automatic writing and the ‘récit de rêve'.
Though it shuns ‘closure' in a matter which remains ultimately elusive, this book offers some account of the types of answer which remain open and of those we have learned to leave behind.