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Shift Linguals

Cut-Up Narratives from William S. Burroughs to the Present

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Edward S. Robinson

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.

Making Strange

Beauty, Sublimity, and the (Post) Modern ‘Third Aesthetic’

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Herbert Grabes

This compact, indispensable overview answers a vexed question: Why do so many works of modern and postmodern literature and art seem designed to appear ‘strange’, and how can they still cause pleasure in the beholder? To help overcome the initial barrier caused by this ‘strangeness’, the general reader is given an initial, non-technical description of the ‘aesthetic of the strange’ as it is experienced in the reading or viewing process. There follows a broad survey of modern and postmodern trends, illustrating their staggering variety and making plain the manifold methods and strategies adopted by writers and artists to ‘make it strange’. The book closes with a systematic summary of the theoretical underpinnings of the ‘aesthetic of the strange’, focussing on the ways in which it differs from both the earlier ‘aesthetic of the beautiful’ and the ‘aesthetic of the sublime’. It is made amply clear that the strangeness characteristic of modern and postmodern art has ushered in an entirely new, ‘third’ kind of aesthetic – one that has undergone further transformation over the past two decades. Beyond its usefulness as a practical introduction to the ‘aesthetic of the strange’, the present study also takes up the most recent, cutting-edge aspects of scholarly debate, while initiates are offered an original approach to the theoretical implications of this seminal phenomenon.

Desire and De-Scription

Words and Images of Postmodernism in the late Poetry of William Carlos Williams. A Case Study

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Zsófia Bán

This volume, without negating Williams' strong ties with modernism, intends to dislodge this deeply ingrained critical positioning by presenting him as an overlooked figure in the emerging tradition of postmodernism. The study advances the claim that Williams clearly recognized this nascent discourse and, rather than pursuing his earlier mode of writing, consciously sought a new language for a rapidly changing cultural context. Drawing on wide-ranging, multidisciplinary critical texts, this book will be of interest not only to Williams scholars but to all those who continue to be intrigued by the elusive boundaries between word and image as well as modernism and postmodernism.

Do You Feel It Too?

The Post-Postmodern Syndrome in American Fiction at the Turn of the Millennium

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Nicoline Timmer

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.

The Margins of Meaning

Arguments for a Postmodern Approach to Language & Text

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Robin Melrose

The title of this book is inspired by Jacques Derrida and by his seminal work, The Margins of Philosophy. The study of meaning in the past thirty years has focused on core meaning, and largely ignored the margins of meaning, where much of the power of language is to be found. The present work seeks to shift this focus by taking a postmodern approach that sees meaning as an accretion of verbal, social, cultural and personal sign systems, with fluid boundaries that shrink or expand with each meaner.
Chapter 1 begins with a brief examination of present-day approaches to meaning, and goes on to a deconstruction of four twentieth century linguists. Chapter 2 takes as its starting point two aspects of the 20th century scientific paradigm, non-deterministic causation and relativity, and considers a number of thinkers who have worked within this paradigm. A major aim of this work is to convince students and teachers of literary theory, cultural studies and feminist theory of the validity of a linguistics of indeterminacy, so Chapter 3 focuses on an analytical approach that models indeterminacy in language, and Chapter 4 applies the model to a newspaper editorial, a Wallace Stevens' poem, and an extract from a Patrick White novel.

Un passé contraignant

Double bind et transculturation

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Michèle Bacholle-Bošković

Un passé contraignant. Double bind et transculturation de Michèle Bacholle constitue jusqu’à présent la seule étude à regrouper trois écrivains contemporains venus d’horizons très différents et formés par deux mondes contradictoires : le milieu petit-commerçant et la bourgeoisie pour Annie Ernaux, la Hongrie communiste et la Suisse francophone pour Agota Kristof, et les valeurs françaises et les traditions arabo-musulmanes pour Farida Belghoul. S’adressant aux chercheurs en littérature et culture françaises et francophones contemporaines, ainsi qu’aux psychologues, sociologues et anthropologues, Un passé contraignant présente une approche originale de l’œuvre d’Ernaux, de Kristof et de Belghoul. A la différence des travaux critiques déjà parus, ce livre tente de dépasser les binarités fondatrices de chaque écrivain et montre comment, par la mise en écriture du double bind, au moyen du double et de la schizophrénie, ces écrivains sont parvenus à échapper à une situation contraignante et à la “réorienter”. L’auteur montre que, dans ces textes empreints de postmodernisme deleuzo-guattarien, les deux mondes formateurs ont été traités de façon égalitaire et que seul un tel traitement garantit le succès de la transculturation en permettant la création d’un “tiers-espace”, né mais distinct des deux mondes originels, où peut s’épanouir la “tierce-identité” du sujet transculturé.

The Importance of Reinventing Oscar

Versions of Wilde during the Last 100 Years

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Edited by Uwe Böker, Richard Corballis and Julie A. Hibbard

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).

Chaos and Madness

The Politics of Fiction in Stephen Marlowe’s Historical Narratives

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Mónica Calvo-Pascual

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.

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Edited by Jorge Sacido

How can the short story help to redefine modernism, postmodernism and their interrelationship? What is the status of the short story in modern literary history? These are the central questions that the essays collected in this volume try to answer from different perspectives through readings of short fiction in English and accounts of the genre’s theorisations. The essays by a group of international scholars tackle theoretical issues that are central in approaches to both “movements” such as periodisation, autonomy, high vs. popular literature, totality vs. fragmentation, surface vs. depth, otherness, representation, and, above all, the subject and its vicissitudes. Because it blends theory-based arguments into the approaches to the short fiction of mainly canonical authors (Joyce, Woolf, Lewis, Ballard, Carter, Rushdie, or Wallace), Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Short Story in English is of interest not only to readers and scholars of the short story, but also to those coming from the fields of literary theory and literary history.

Body Show/s

Australian viewings of live performance

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Edited by Peta Tait

Body Show/s: Australian Viewings of Live Performance asks: in what ways do physical bodies in live performance present vital and compelling expressions of ideas?
This collection contains critical analyses of cultural spectacle and social identity by eighteen major Australian scholars and practitioners. It discusses and describes bodies in contemporary performance, theatre, visual art and dance; in circus and ethnographic shows; in performance training, butoh and wrestling; at gay and lesbian dance parties; and in relation to digital images. It explores historical and theoretical issues of gender and postcoloniality, technology, and the location of bodies in architectural, social and virtual spaces.
Artistes and groups discussed include Sydney Front, Open City, The Performance Space, Meryl Tankard’s Australian Dance Theatre, Chrissie Parrott, the Bell Shakespeare Company, Tess De Quincey, Yumi Umiumare, Gilgul Theatre, Lyndal Jones, Stelarc, Death Defying Theatre, colonial circus, ethnographic displays, the horse as performer, and wrestling legends Gorgeous George and Ravishing Ricky Rude.