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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.

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Jan IJ. van der Meer

The present book for the first time links the thoughts of modern Western sociologists of literature with an overall description of the literary activities, attitudes, and views in late eighteenth-century Poland. Inspired by the studies of Bourdieu on literary fields and, more particular, S.J. Schmidt's study of the history of the rise and development of the social system 'literature' in Germany in the eighteenth-century (cf. Schmidt 1989), the author tries to establish whether Poland witnessed the rise of a more complex and (relatively) autonomous literary field or, as Schmidt calls it, a functionally differentiated literary system in the age of the reign of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski (1764-1795).
Functionally differentiated literary systems - systems in which an increased number of literary agents and institutions produce, sell, buy, and criticize literary works according to capitalist principles - are the literary systems of today. As most scholars believe, their origins are to be found in most European nations in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Did such a modern literary system, albeit with certain limitations, rise in Poland in the years of the rule of Stanislaw A. Poniatowski? - this is the question the author of the present volume will attempt to answer. This volume is of interest to theoreticians and empirical researchers approaching literature from a sociological point of view, historians, and, of course, slavists interested in eighteenth-century literary developments in Poland.

The Society Tale in Russian Literature

From Odoevskii to Tolstoi

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Edited by Neil Cornwell

This collection of essays is the first book to appear on the society tale in nineteenth-century Russian fiction. Written by a team of British and American scholars, the volume is based on a symposium on the society tale held at the University of Bristol in 1996. The essays examine the development of the society tale in Russian fiction, from its beginnings in the 1820s until its subsumption into the realist novel, later in the century. The contributions presented vary in approach from the text or author based study to the generic or the sociological. Power, gender and discourse theory all feature strongly and the volume should be of considerable interest to students and scholars of nineteenth-century Russian literature. There are essays covering Pushkin, Lermontov, Odoevsky and Tolstoi, as well as more minor writers, and more general and theoretical approaches.

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Edited by Karl Simms

This volume contains nineteen essays — eighteen here presented for the first time — exploring the question of subjectivity as seen from an ethical perspective. Part I concerns the phenomenological development of Cartesianism and the concept of narrative identity, with essays addressing Levinas' idea of the Other, Ricoeur's Christianisation of Levinas, and Dennet's concept of folk psychology. Part II concerns the experience of reading ethically, as mediated through genealogy and psychoanalysis. The essays address the discourses of philosophy, psychoanalysis, film and literature, and are informed by Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault and Lacan among others. The volume will interest philosophers and critical theorists. Karl Simms provides comprehensive introductions to each of the parts, making the book accessible to informed general readers with an interest in cultural studies.

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Edited by Ian Davidson and Zoë Skoulding

The essays in this volume present a thorough re-evaluation of the idea of place for the twenty-first century, linking across theoretical interests in space and spatialisation and in motion and mobility. ‘Placing’ becomes an active process that happens in different parts of the world, and there is work here from the countries of the United Kingdom, from Ireland, the USA, Australia and mainland Europe. Placing also happens in different contexts, in the production of visual images, in translation, in performance and in poetry that is both ‘there’ and ‘here’. The range of poets under consideration matches the breadth of the range of the contributors. International in scope, and drawn from a variety of practices and processes, their combination in a single volume leads to unusual connections and new readings of their work.

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Edited by Karl Simms

This volume contains nineteen essays — eighteen here presented for the first time — exploring the question of subjectivity as seen from a linguistic perspective. Part I concerns the relationship between the linguistic subject, particularly the grammatical first person, and the subject in more general sense of ‘person'. Topics covered include deixis, verbal marking and temporalisation, and performatives. Part II concerns the relationship of subjectivity to the experience of reading, and as such considers the semiotics of both literary and non-literary texts, inter-modal representation, authorship and intertextuality. The essays in the volume are principally influenced by the thinking of Saussure, Jakobson, Guillaume, Benveniste, Wittgenstein, Barthes and Deleuze, and the book will appeal to scholars with an interest in theoretical linguistics, semiotics, discourse, analysis and philosophy of language. Karl Simms provides comprehensive introductions to each of the parts, making the book accessible to inform general readers with an interest in cultural and communication studies.

The Culture of Fragments

Words and Images in Futurism and Surrealism

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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.

J.M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Power

Unsettling Complicity, Complacency, and Confession

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Emanuela Tegla

“For I was not, as I liked to believe, the indulgent pleasure-loving opposite of the cold rigid Colonel. I was the lie that Empire tells itself when times are easy, he the truth that Empire tells when harsh winds blow.” Thus the Magistrate confesses in Coetzee’s 1980 novel Waiting for the Barbarians. The present study looks closely into the unsettling effects Coetzee’s novels have on the reader and explores the interconnectedness between stylistic choices and moral insights. Its overall aim is to disclose the effectiveness of Coetzee’s narrative strategies to prompt the reader to engage in self-questioning and radical revisions of personal and social moral assumptions.

“This is an original and ground-breaking study of Coetzee’s work. Dr Tegla’s insightful close-readings highlight the ways in which Coetzee fictionalizes a variety of moral dilemmas. In particular, she shows how he turns narrative into an instrument for moral discernment. Her narratological approach advances our understanding of his achievements, and I can state without reservation that this book will be referred to as a landmark in Coetzee criticism.”
— Richard Bradford, Research Professor and Senior Distinguished Research Fellow, University of Ulster