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Series:

Joep Leerssen

Abstract

To which extent is ‘nature’ a cultural or discursive construct? The question seems paradoxical and intractable since ‘nature’ by definition opposes the very notion of constructedness or historicity; yet there are indications that each literary generation re-invents its own cultural horizon by re-interpreting a sense of non-culture and nature. In order to clarify this historical and conceptual paradox, the idea and literary treatment of nature and rusticity are sketchily surveyed from classical primitivism to the present day. The conclusion that suggests itself is that ‘nature’ is one of the strongest and most invariant topics in the Western imagination, exhibiting a good deal of consistency through changing periods and literary fashions. If there is anything paradoxical about the link between nature and contemporary (‘postmodern’) literary culture, it lies largely in the fact that this follows after a period (Modernism) which was unusually averse to a celebration of nature and rusticity.

Series:

Richard Todd

Abstract

This essay uses the work of Adam Thorpe (b. 1956) and in particular his first novel Ulverton (1992) to examine a number of features of the georgic in English fiction. These include the presentation of a rural provincial world that is not idealized, and a specific interpretation of the country-city debate (itself amply examined by Raymond Williams) in terms of the deracination experienced by characters who leave the country for the city. After presenting a broad context from nineteenth-century fiction to the other novels of Adam Thorpe, the essay focuses on one episode from Ulverton to show how the themes of non-idealization and deracination are bound up with the disempowerment caused by illiteracy, and the consequences of illiteracy for the suppression of voice. The entire constellation of issues serves to critique the assumption that rustic life represents some kind of ideal.

Series:

Elisabeth Koenraads

Abstract

La casa a Nord-Est (1991) by Sergio Maldini is an account of the attempts of a middle-aged man from Rome to recover old values and to find the meaning of life and death by buying a house in the southern plains of the region Friuli where he spent his youth. In my article I focus mainly on the presentation of the Friulian community and the dimensions of time and space. The community is presented as a timeless microcosm and has strong ties with its past, when the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Time is the continuous thread in the quest of the character. Both time and space play an important part in the contrast between countryside and city.

The Culture of Fragments

Words and Images in Futurism and Surrealism

Series:

Clara Orban

Works of art such as paintings with words on them or poems shaped as images communicate to the viewer by means of more than one medium. Here is presented a particular group of hybrid art works from the early twentieth century, to discover in what way words and images can function together to create meaning. The four central artists considered in this study investigate word/image forms in their work. F.T. Marinetti invented parole in libertà, among other ideas, to free language from syntactic connections. Umberto Boccioni experimented with newspaper clippings on the canvas from 1912-1915, and these collages constitute an important exploration into word/image forms. André Breton's collection of poems Clair de terre (1923) contains several typographical variations for iconographic effect. René Magritte explored the relationship between words and images, juxtaposing signifiers to contradictory signifieds on the canvas. A final chapter introduces media other than poetry and painting on which words and images appear. Posters, the theater, and the relatively new medium of cinema foreground words and images constantly. This volume will be of interest to scholars of twentieth-century French or Italian literature or painting, and to scholars of word and image studies.

Series:

Edited by Charmian Brinson and Richard Dove

This volume focuses on the contribution of German-speaking refugees from Nazism to the performing arts in Britain, evaluating their role in broadcasting, theatre, film and dance from 1933 to the present. It contains essays evaluating the role of refugee artists in the BBC German Service, including the actor Martin Miller, the writer Bruno Adler and the journalist Edmund Wolf. Miller also made a career in the English theatre transcending the barrier of language, as did the actor Gerhard Hinze, whose transition to the English stage is an instructive example of adaptation to a new theatre culture. In film, language problems were mitigated by the technical possibilities of the medium, although stars like Anton Walbrook received coaching in English. Certainly, technicians from Central Europe, like the cameraman Wolf Suschitzky, helped establish the character of British film in the 1950s and 1960s. In dance theatre, language played little role, facilitating the influence in Britain of dance practitioners like Kurt Jooss and Sigurd Leeder. Finally, evaluating the reverse influence of émigrés on Germany, two essays discuss Erich Fried’s translations of Shakespeare and Peter Zadek’s early theatre career in Germany.

Writing and Seeing

Essays on Word and Image

Series:

Edited by Rui Carvalho Homem and Maria de Fátima Lambert

The essays in this volume are informed by a variety of theoretical assumptions and of critical methodologies, but they all share an interest in the intersections of word and image in a variety of media. This unifying rationale secures the present collection’s central position in the current critical context, defined as it predominantly is by ways of reading that are based on a relational nexus. The intertextual, the intermedial, the intersemiotic are indeed foregrounded and combined in these essays, conceptually as much as in the critical practices favoured by the various contributions.
Studies of literature in its relation to pictorial genres enjoy a relative prominence in the volume – but the range of media and of approaches considered is broad enough to include photography, film, video, television, comic strips, animated film, public art, material culture.
The backgrounds of contributors are likewise diverse – culturally, academically, linguistically.
The volume combines contributions by prominent scholars and critics with essays by younger scholars, from a variety of backgrounds. The resulting plurality of perspective is indeed a source of new insights into the relations between writing and seeing, and it contributes to making this collection an exciting new contribution to word and image studies.

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Edited by Richard Littlejohns and Sara Soncini

Myths of Europe focuses on the identity of Europe, seeking to re-assess its cultural, literary and political traditions in the context of the 21st century. Over 20 authors – historians, political scientists, literary scholars, art and cultural historians – from five countries here enter into a debate. How far are the myths by which Europe has defined itself for centuries relevant to its role in global politics after 9/11? Can ‘Old Europe’ maintain its traditional identity now that the European Union includes countries previously supposed to be on its periphery? How has Europe handled relations with the non-European Other in the past and how is it reacting now to an influx of immigrants and asylum seekers? It becomes clear that founding myths such as Hamlet and St Nicholas have helped construct the European consciousness but also that these and other European myths have disturbing Eurocentric implications. Are these myths still viable today and, if so, to what extent and for what purpose? This volume sits on the interface between culture and politics and is important reading for all those interested in the transmission of myth and in both the past and the future of Europe.

Series:

Christopher Lloyd

Fascination with creatures that challenge boundaries between humans and other species long predates Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Narratives have evolved from the fabulous to the more scientifically grounded, and tend to follow either the regressive or relativistic model, established respectively by Swift and Voltaire: men as apes, debased, stinking brutes; or apes as men, as potential rivals and substitutes. My aim here is to sample and compare a select corpus of fictional texts in French and English ranging from the late nineteenth century to the present, which deal with monstrosity or the incursion into the human domain of threatening, rival primate species, in the context of human evolution, whether individual, social or biological. Stevenson, Zola, Maupassant and Hugo all present variations of the self dispossessed by some monstrous other, whether through physical deformity caused by a malicious external agent, or more subtly through some internal disturbance of ontological equilibrium. This unleashes creatures that devour their human host, but at the cost of their own extinction. H. G. Wells and Octave Mirbeau, on the other hand, adopt the perspective of the external observer who poses as a scientific witness of attempts to modify human and animal evolution. In conclusion, I discuss two twentieth-century novels which rewrite the whole course of primate evolution, Boulle’s La Planète des singes (1963) and Self’s Great Apes (1997).

Images of the North

Histories – Identities – Ideas

Series:

Edited by Sverrir Jakobsson

This interdisciplinary volume seeks to examine and explore the various issues surrounding image construction, identity making and representations of the North, as well as the interconnectedness between those issues. The aim is to elucidate the multiple aspects of the idea of the North, both as a mythological space and a discursive system created and shaped by cultures outside the North as well as from within. The objective of the research project Iceland and Images of the North is to elucidate several aspects of images of the North and to explore their functions in the present, focusing especially on Iceland. What effect have Iceland and its people had on images of the North, and how do those images influence the Icelanders and other nations? The project will be a cooperative, interdisciplinary undertaking by researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

Love, Sex, and Marriage

A Historical Thesaurus

Series:

Julie Coleman

If the language we use influences and reflects the way that we see the world, then the fields of LOVE, SEX, and MARRIAGE, will show how speakers of English view their closest social and emotional relationships. Love, Sex, and Marriage provides a classification of English terms for these three fields from the earliest written records of the language until the present day. This volume makes it possible to trace changing attitudes towards social and sexual ties, and to understand those ties as earlier speakers of English did, through the language they used. The terms are arranged by meaning, and are listed chronologically within semantic fields, with their dates of usage. Notes on individual terms provide further information about their connotations and development. Language does not exist in isolation from the people who speak it, so background information about changes in social conditions, religious beliefs, and medical advancements is also included. A brief introduction to basic semantic terminology explains the principles behind the classification, and an alphabetical index facilitates the location of individual terms.