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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).

Uncanonical Women

Feminine Voice in French Poetry (1830-1871)

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Wendy Greenberg

In English here is presented for the first time an examination of the text and context of five nineteenth-century French women poets: Elisa Mercoeur (1808-1835), Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859), Louisa Siefert (1845-1877), Louise Ackermann (1813-1890) and Louise Michel (1830-1905) will demonstrate that in spite of mentoring by various literary, historic or even family figures, these writers found their own voices. A striking example is Louisa Siefert, who in spite of bold intertextuality, displays an unmistakably feminine persona, whose originality poignantly draws the reader's attention. These poets had many obstacles of overcome as woman-identified poets. For example, Louise Ackermann's own husband did not want her to write, and for this reason, she remained silent during her who years of marriage. Louise Michel is a different case as an analysis of the short poem Bouche close ( Le Livre du Bagne, 1873-1880) will demonstrate. In short, Uncanonical Women,//% explores a crescendo of poetic voice, from the initial timid solicitations of Elisa Mercoeur, to the bold, self-sufficient defiance of Louise Michel. The implication of my original findings that uncanonical poets can surpass cultural marginalization is that the book will target both a traditional and modern readership. Major these and clear language and tools that delineate identifiably personal style of true writers and the poetic persona of each is unique: Mercoeur in ambition, Desbordes-Valmore in domesticity, Siefert, in anguish, Ackermann in pessimism and Michel in leadership.

Marginal Voices, Marginal Forms

Diaries in European Literature and History

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Edited by Rachael Langford and Russell West

Diaristic writing has often been relegated to the fringes of literary studies as a marginal cultural activity. This volume seeks to challenge that marginality by exploring some of the wide-ranging forms of literary practice encompassed by diaristic writing in Europe from the Renaissance to the present day. The volume deals with questions of the value and status of the diary, of the functioning of the diary in society and history, and of the reception and interpretation of the multifarious forms of first-person daily writing. The volume investigates diaries across national borders and linguistic boundaries, so as to make the hitherto marginal place of the private journal a site of fruitful interdisciplinary encounters. Australian, British, Catalonian, French, German and Italian critics examine diaries dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, within the context of the literature, history and literary history of Catalonia, England, France, Germany and Italy. A prime concern of the essays in this collection is to highlight the cultural, generic and historical diversity of the diary, while emphasising the points of convergence between different texts and differing critical approaches to the texts. The volume will be of interest to students and teachers of European and comparative literature.

Disremembering the Dictatorship

The Politics of Memory in the Spanish Transition to Democracy

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Edited by Joan Ramon Resina

Most accounts of the Spanish transition to democracy have been celebratory exercises at the service of a stabilizing rather than a critical project of far-reaching reform. As one of the essays in this volume puts it, the “pact of oblivion,” which characterized the Spanish transition to democracy, curtailed any serious attempt to address the legacies of authoritarianism that the new democracy inherited from the Franco era. As a result, those legacies pervaded public discourse even in newly created organs of opinion. As another contributor argues, the Transition was based on the erasure of memory and the invention of a new political tradition. On the other hand, memory and its etiolation have been an object of reflection for a number of film directors and fiction writers, who have probed the return of the repressed under spectral conditions.
Above all, this book strives to present memory as a performative exercise of democratic agents and an open field for encounters with different, possibly divergent, and necessarily fragmented recollections. The pact of the Transition could not entirely disguise the naturalization of a society made of winners and losers, nor could it ensure the consolidation of amnesia by political agents and by the tools that create hegemony by shaping opinion. Spanish society is haunted by the specters of a past it has tried to surmount by denying it. It seems unlikely that it can rid itself of its ghosts without in the process undermining the democracy it sought to legitimate through the erasure of memories and the drowning of witnesses' voices in the cacaphony of triumphant modernization.

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Lia van de Biezenbos

Omniprésente dans son oeuvre mais loin d'être glorieuse, la maternité se trouve au centre de l'univers littéraire de Marguerite Duras. Le désir de retourner dans le sein maternel et l'impossibilité d'y parvenir se confondent dans le jeu de l'écriture pour composer le refrain sans fin qu'est ce désir d'osmose.
Dans cette étude, l'auteur se propose d'aller au-delà du lien entre l'omniprésence du personnage maternel et la réalité biographique de Duras en soulignant le caractère fictionnel de l'oeuvre. Des analyses textuelles rhétoriques et narratologiques lui permettent de souligner les représentations de la maternité et de la féminité dans les textes de Duras et dans la théorie psychanalytique freudienne. La confrontation de ces deux discours résulte en un dialogue entre Duras et Freud où les deux locuteurs fictifs sont respectés, mais soumis à une analyse critique. La question qui s'impose est de savoir si l'oeuvre de Duras contribue à confirmer la différence sexuelle définie dans le contexte social et ancrée dans la relation avec la mère, comme le prétend la psychanalyse freudienne, ou si elle contribue justement à la remise en question de cette différence sociale.
L'écriture de Duras manie les clichés culturels et les mythes qui entourent la mère et la maternité. Ceci se manifeste sous des aspects d'une grande variété. Cette thèse montre le jeu des variations sur les fantasmes soi-disant universels, variations qui se dessinent dans les répétitions apparentes qui prennent à chaque fois une forme nouvelle. L'originalité de Duras est de prendre les mythes et les fantasmes à la lettre, et ce procédé les rend parfois grotesques. La forme littéraire paradoxale donnée à ces fantasmes renverse le rapport entre le littéral et le figuré. Sans être moralisateurs, ils mettent ainsi en lumière le caractère fantasmatique de l'idéologie qui ancre la féminité dans la maternité.
Même maintenant, dix ans après le décès de Marguerite Duras, son œuvre inspire toujours de nombreux lecteurs. L'année du dixième anniversaire de sa mort célèbre cette oeuvre qui continue à nous fasciner. Le présent livre vous offre le plaisir d'une lecture enrichissante des fantasmes entourant le personnage de la mère. A travers une lecture qui adopte la littéralité et qui s'ajuste aux méandres du texte durassien, l'auteur de ce livre veut contribuer à mieux comprendre les conflits et les désirs, les fantasmes et les images, qui entourent le rôle féminin par excellence qu'est la maternité.

Series:

Maria Koundoura

Mid-eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century travel narratives and novels on Greece like those of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Mary Shelley are filled with projected fictions of otherness, presented as fact. The supposed realism of these accounts guaranteed not only the imaginative hold of Greece, but also the originality of the fictive treatments. Like other such tales of the time, the story of Greece was open to the reader’s sentimental appropriation: it allowed these travellers and their culture to write themselves in the discourse of Hellenism and the Greeks out as its ruins.

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Joseph Emonds

Several properties unique to human language arguably derive from ‘Duality’: two superimposed combinatorial systems, phonology and syntax. However, the discreteness in both systems is generally overlooked. Syntax, a human language ‘trademark,’ is strangely based on exactly those discrete categories plausibly present in primate vision, possibly primate cognition’s only discrete categories. A first evolutionary step projected these discrete categories out of the ‘here and now’ into a computational screen. A second step dissociated the phonology atoms from meaning, leading to large lexicons and referential displacement.

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Katja Mellmann

There has been a great deal of uproar about Darwinian approaches in literary scholarship. Statements range from enthusiastic prophecies of a new paradigm for literary studies to acrimonious scoldings of reductionism. Believing that the major challenge is first to find good questions to which evolutionary psychology might provide us with good answers, I outline and critically assess different veins of argumentation as revealed in recent contributions to the field. As an alternative to some simplistic mimeticism in present Literary Darwinism, I put forward the idea of evolutionary psychology as a heuristic theory that serves to resolve defined problems in interpretation and literary theory.

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Efterpi Mitsi

Lady Elizabeth Craven’s epistolary travelogue, A Journey Through the Crimea to Constantinople (1789), especially her letters from Athens, present not only the author’s rivalry with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and her Turkish Embassy Letters but also a critical stance toward the Orient, which depends on the historical developments which turned Britain into a global power and on the change in aesthetic sensibilities from the beginning to the end of the eighteenth century. Craven, who was the first woman travel writer to visit Athens, offers a fragmented and idiosyncratic vision of Greece, asserting her denial of the pursuit of antiquity displayed by Montagu. Rather than describe the antiquities, Craven produces picturesque depictions of private spaces, which were either ignored by or inaccessible to male travellers. Her descriptions represent a development in travel writing, determined not only by gender but also by the search for new sources of aesthetic pleasure.

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Wendy Wheeler

This essay argues that recent developments in evolutionary biology require us to reformulate the Darwinian Synthesis which has dominated evolutionary understandings from the 1930s to Neo-Darwinism and Evolutionary Psychology in the present. Introducing the new interdiscipline of biosemiotics, which understands all living things – from cells to organisms to ecosystems – as communicative makers of meanings, the essay argues that we can understand cultural and aesthetic life both as emergent from natural biosemiotic life and also as rearticulating nature’s patterns at a new symbolic level in humans. Drawing on the semiotic philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce and on Michael Polanyi’s understanding of tacit embodied knowledge, the essay suggests that the power of literature lies in its capacity to remind us of the generative power and creative evolution of semiosis, both in nature and in culture.