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From Cooper to Philip Roth

Essays on American Literature. Presented to J.G. Riewald on the occasion of his seventieth birthday

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Edited by D.R.M. Wilkinson

A Revolt Against Liberalism

American Radical Historians, 1959-1976

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A.A.M. van der Linden

This is the first study to provide a comprehensive picture of the revolt brought about by American radical historians in the 1960s and 1970s. With the turbulent sixties as a backdrop, the work of radical luminaries like Eugene Genovese, Herbert Gutman, Staughton Lynd, William Appleman Williams and Howard Zinn is discussed. These historians made a significant contribution to present-day notions about slavery, working-class history, the New Deal, the Cold War and a wealth of other subjects. Their main target was American liberalism. Radical criticism centered on the liberal concepts of the division of power and of the nature of man. The acrimonious debate which ensued tore the historical profession apart. Therefore most historians have stressed the disagreements between liberals and radicals. Yet, in this study it will be argued that in some respects the radicals were part and parcel of mainstream historiography, though they presented a radical version of it.

Gateway to the Promised Land

Ethnic Cultures on New York’s Lower East Side

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Mario Maffi

For the first time told in its entirety, the social and cultural experience of New York's Lower East Side comes vividly to life in this book as that of a huge and complex laboratory ever swelled and fed by migrant flows and ever animated by a high-voltage tension of daily research and resistance - the fascinating history of the historical immigrant quarter that, in Manhattan, stretches between East 14th Street, East River, the access to the Brooklyn Bridge, and Lafayette Street. Irish and Germans at first, then Chinese and Italians and East European Jews, and finally Puerto Ricans gave birth, in its streets and sweatshops, cafés and tenements, to a lively multi-ethnic and cross-cultural community, which was at the basis of several modern artistic expressions, from literature to cinema, from painting to theatre. The book, based upon a rich wealth of historical materials (settlement reports, autobiographies, novels, newspaper articles) and on first-hand experience, explores the many different aspects of this long history from the late 19th century years to nowadays: the way in which immigrants reacted to the new environment and entered a fruitful dialectics with America, the way in which they reorganized their lives and expectations and struggled to defend a collective identity against all disintegrating factors, the way in which they created and disseminated cultural products, the way in which they functioned as a gigantic magnet attracting several outside artists and intellectuals. The book thus has a long introduction detailing the present situation and mainly depicting the realities within the Chinese and Puerto Rican communities and the fight against gentrification, six chapters on the Lower East Side's past history (its social and cultural geography, the relationship among the several different communities, the labor situation, the literary output, the development of an ethnic theatre, the neighborhood's influences upon turn-of-the-century American culture in the fields of sociology, photography, art, literature and cinema), and a conclusion summing up past and present and discussing the main aspects of a Lower East Side aesthetics.

A Centre of Excellence

Essays presented to Seymour Betsky

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Edited by Robert Druce

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.

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Edited by Kheven LaGrone

Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Color Purple is a tale of personal empowerment which opens with a protagonist Celie who is at the bottom of America's social caste. A poor, black, ugly and uneducated female in the America's Jim Crow South in the first half of the 20th century, she is the victim of constant rape, violence and misogynistic verbal abuse. Celie cannot conceive of an escape from her present condition, and so she learns to be passive and unemotional. But The Color Purple eventually demonstrates how Celie learns to fight back and how she discovers her true sexuality and her unique voice. By the end of the novel, Celie is an empowered, financially-independent entrepreneur/landowner, one who speaks her mind and realizes the desirability of black femaleness while creating a safe space for herself and those she loves. Through a journey of literary criticism, Dialogue: Alice Walker's The Color Purple follows Celie's transformation from victim to hero. Each scholarly essay becomes a step of the journey that paves the way for the development of self and sexual awareness, the beginnings of religious transformation and the creation of nurturing places like home and community.

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Brian Duffy

Morality, Identity and Narrative in the Fiction of Richard Ford is only the second monograph on the work of Richard Ford and the only one to deal with all three Frank Bascombe novels. The book offers comprehensive readings of the trilogy and the stories of Women with Men and A Multitude of Sins, thus bringing critical work on Ford up to date. Richard Ford insists that fiction contain a “moral vision”, and this study takes up that challenge by investigating Ford’s characters through the interconnections of morality, identity and narrative. It draws on the moral theories of Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor, and on the work on narrative and identity of French philosopher Paul Ricoeur. But it also explores in detail the portrait of contemporary American society and culture offered in the trilogy, analysing the individualism, exclusionary independence and laissez-faire principles of Independence Day, and the consumerism, sectionalism, self-absorption, enervation and violence of The Lay of the Land. This study traces the emerging vision in the trilogy of America as an atomized society in a state of disharmony and fear, and as a culture casting around for meaning, identity and spiritual peace. The book also contains an extensive recent interview with Richard Ford.

Upton Sinclair: The Lithuanian Jungle

Upon the Centenary of The Jungle (1905 and 1906) by Upton Sinclair

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Giedrius Subačius

In his legendary novel The Jungle (1905 and 1906), Upton Sinclair included a conspicuous number of Lithuanian words, phrases and surnames. This volume is the first attempt to analyze aspects of Lithuanian linguistic and historical data from The Jungle. Sinclair discovered the Lithuanian language in Chicago and explored it with pleasure. He even confessed to having sang in Lithuanian. If you look for “a Lithuanian linguist” working in field-research conditions in Chicago’s Back of the Yards—there is Upton Sinclair! The book targets Sinclair’s motives for choosing Lithuanian characters, his sources and his work methods in “field-research” conditions in Chicago. Some real-life individuals—Lithuanian name-donors for the protagonists of The Jungle—are presented in this volume. Certain details of the turn-of-the-century Chicago depicted in The Jungle are also revealed—for example, the saloon where the actual Lithuanian wedding feast took place and its owner. This volume is of interest to American literary historians, sociolinguists, language historians, and those interested in the history of Lithuanian immigration to America and the immigrant experience in Chicago.

Cyberculture, Cyborgs and Science Fiction

Consciousness and the Posthuman

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William S. Haney II

Addressing a key issue related to human nature, this book argues that the first-person experience of pure consciousness may soon be under threat from posthuman biotechnology. In exploiting the mind’s capacity for instrumental behavior, posthumanists seek to extend human experience by physically projecting the mind outward through the continuity of thought and the material world, as through telepresence and other forms of prosthetic enhancements. Posthumanism envisions a biology/machine symbiosis that will promote this extension, arguably at the expense of the natural tendency of the mind to move toward pure consciousness. As each chapter of this book contends, by forcibly overextending and thus jeopardizing the neurophysiology of consciousness, the posthuman condition could in the long term undermine human nature, defined as the effortless capacity for transcending the mind’s conceptual content. Presented here for the first time, the essential argument of this book is more than a warning; it gives a direction: far better to practice patience and develop pure consciousness and evolve into a higher human being than to fall prey to the Faustian temptations of biotechnological power. As argued throughout the book, each person must choose for him or herself between the technological extension of physical experience through mind, body and world on the one hand, and the natural powers of human consciousness on the other as a means to realize their ultimate vision.

Opera and the Novel

The Case of Henry James

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Michael Halliwell

Opera and the Novel: The Case of Henry James offers the first full-length study of the theory and practice of the adaptation of fiction into opera: the transference of a work from one medium to another – metaphrasis – is its point of departure. Starting with a survey of the current thinking regarding the nexus between words and music with specific reference to operatic adaptation of existing literary works, it traces the four-hundred-year history of opera, demonstrating that the novel has become increasingly attractive to librettists and composers as an operatic source. As the resources of modern music theatre have increased in sophistication, so too have the possibilities for an expanded engagement with complex fictional works. The intricate relationship between fictional and musical narrative is examined: the proposition that the orchestra assumes much of the function of the narrator in fiction is explored. The second section is a detailed examination of eight operatic works based on Henry James’s fiction. It is opera’s unique capability to present the intense emotional and psychological situations central to James’s fiction as well as the ability to engage with his synthesis of melodrama and psychological ambiguity which makes James’s work peculiarly amenable to operatic adaptation. Composers who have used James as a source include Douglas Moore, Benjamin Britten, Thomas Pasatieri, Donald Hollier, Thea Musgrave, Philip Hagemann and Dominick Argento. The operas discussed represent a contemporary critical and often self-conscious engagement with the art form itself as well as illustrating current adaptive strategies, and suggest ways in which new operatic paths may be forged. This volume is of relevance to students and scholars of English literature and opera as well as readers who take an interest in intermedial research and the question of adaptation in general.