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Focus on Nigeria

Literature and Culture

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Edited by Gordon Collier

This issue of Matatu offers cutting-edge studies of contemporary Nigerian literature, a selection of short fiction and poetry, and a range of essays on various themes of political, artistic, socio-linguistic, and sociological interest. Contributions on theatre focus on the fool as dramatic character and on the feminist theatre of exclusion (Tracie Uto-Ezeajugh). Several essays examine the poetry of Hope Eghagha and the Delta writer Tanure Ojaide. Studies of the prose fiction of Chinua Achebe, Tayo Olafioye, Uwem Akpan, and Chimamanda Adichie are complemented by a searching exposé of the exploitation of Ayi Kwei Armah on the part of the metropolitan publishing world and by a recent interview with the poet Jumoko Verissimo. Traditional culture is considered in articles on historical sites in Ile-Ife, witchcraft in Etsako warfare, and the Awonmili women’s collective in Awka. Linguistically oriented studies consider political speeches, drug advertising, and Yoruba anthroponyms. Performance-focused essays focus on Emirate court spectacle (durbar), Yoruba drum poetry in contemporary media, gospel music, indigenization and islamization of military music, and the role of the filmmaker. Contributions of broader relevance deal with Islamic components of Nigerian culture, the decline of the educational system, and the socio-economic impact of acquisitive culture.

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Edited by Bouwe Postmus

The crown upon the continuing vitality and popularity of Gissing studies in the final decade of the twentieth century was the publication of The Collected Letters of George Gissing (1990-97). The editors of that mammoth undertaking, Paul Mattheisen, Arthur Young and Pierre Coustillas, had long been an inspiration to the younger generation of Gissing scholars, and their presence at the International George Gissing Conference at Amsterdam in September 1999 explained the success of the encounter between Gissing’s older and younger critics.
Ever since the reappraisal of Gissing’s works began to get under way in the early 1960s through the publication of many new editions of the works and ground-breaking critical studies by Arthur Young, Jacob Korg and Pierre Coustillas, it has become impossible to ignore the high status he now enjoys by rights, which resembles the position granted to him long ago by his contemporaries, as one of the leading English novelists of the late nineteenth century.
This collection of essays is remarkable for its emphasis on women’s issues addressed in Gissing’s novels, ranging from the inadequate education of women to the struggle for greater female independence, within and without marriage. Several contributors seek to define the precise nature and quality of Gissing’s achievement and his place in the canon and, in the process, they open up fascinating, new opportunities for future research.

In Words and Deeds

The Spectacle of Incest in English Renaissance Tragedy

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Zenón Luis-Martínez

Departing from earlier studies which regarded incest as a literary topos or dramatic metaphor foregrounding political, social, or legal issues, Words and Deeds: The Spectacle of Incest in English Renaissance Tragedy argues that the presence of incest on the Renaissance stage is a strategy for the enactment of the spectator’s tragic experience. Incest is explored neither as a sin nor as a crime, but as an “unspeakable” experience filtered through dramatic words and deeds. The incitement of desire, visual pleasure, and unconscious fantasy, as well as traumatic rejection, pain, and horror, are all aspects of this paradoxical and uncanny experience. Aristotelian theory of tragedy, Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, and Michel Foucault’s notions of the deployment of sexuality and alliance, concur in the analysis of plays where incest is a central or a secondary motif – Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Beaumont and Fletcher’s Cupid’s Revenge, Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi – and others where incest is an effect of language and mise-en-scène – Sackville and Norton’s Gorboduc, Shakespeare’s King Lear. The variety of topics and the combination of critical perspectives makes In Words and Deeds an attractive book for students and teachers of Renaissance drama, as well as for those with a special interest in psychoanalytic and other new theoretical approaches to the literary text.

Macbeth Multiplied

Negotiating Historical and Medial Difference Between Shakespeare and Verdi

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Christoph Clausen

In what sense did Shakespeare’s representation of the Weird Sisters participate in the rewriting of village witchcraft? Was it likely to “encourage the Sword”? Did opera’s specific medial conditions offer Verdi special opportunities to justify the presence of stage witches more than three centuries later? How valid is the parallel between 19th century opera and the voyeurism of madhouse spectacle? Was Shakespeare’s play really engaged in the project of exorcizing Queen Elizabeth’s cultural memory? What does Verdi’s chorus of Scottish refugees have to do with shifting representations of ‘the people’?
These are among the questions tackled in this study. It provides the first in-depth comparison of Shakespeare’s and Verdi’s Macbeth that is written expressly from the perspective of current Shakespearean criticism whilst striving to do justice to the topic’s musicological dimension at the same time. Exploring to what extent the play’s matrix of possible readings is distinct from Verdi’s two operatic versions, the book seeks to relate such differences both to the historical contexts of the works’ geneses and to their respective medial conditions. In doing so, it pays particular attention to shifting negotiations of witchcraft, gender, madness, and kingship. The study eventually broadens its discussion to consider other Shakespearean plays and their operatic offshoots, reflecting on some possible relations between historical and medial difference.

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Edited by Christopher Balme and Gordon Collier

During the same period in which Derek Walcott was pouring immense physical, emotional, and logistical resources into the foundation of a viable first-rate West Indian theatre company and continuing to write his inimitable poetry, he was also busy writing newspaper reviews, chiefly for the Trinidad Guardian. His prodigious reviewing activity extended far beyond those areas with which one might most readily associate his interests and convictions. As Gordon Rohlehr once presciently observed, “If one wants to see a quotidian workaday Walcott, one should go back to [his] well over five hundred articles, essays and reviews on painting, cinema, calypso, carnival, drama and literature,” articles which “reveal a rich, various, witty and scrupulous intelligence in which generous humour counterpoints acerbity.” These articles capture the vitality of Caribbean culture and shed additional light on the aesthetic preoccupations expressed in Walcott’s essays published in journals. The editors have examined the corpus of Walcott’s journalistic activity from its beginnings in 1950 to its peak in the early 1970s, and have made a generous selection of material from the Guardian, along with occasional pieces from such sources as Public Opinion (Kingston) and The Voice of St. Lucia (Castries). The articles in Volume 2 are organized as follows: the performing arts; general surveys of anglophone Caribbean drama, theatre, and society; festivals, theatre companies, and productions; British and American drama; dance and music theatre; Carnival and calypso; and cinema screenings in Trinidad. Volume 2 additionally contains an exhaustive annotated and cross-referenced chronological bibliography of Walcott’s journalism up to 1990. The co-editor Christopher Balme has written a searching introductory essay on a central theme – here, a survey of West Indian theatre and Walcott’s engagement with it, particularly the idea of a ‘National Theatre’, coupled with an illustrative discussion of the playwright’s seminal dramatic spectacle Drums and Colours.

Exhibited by Candlelight

Sources and Developments in the Gothic Tradition

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Edited by Valeria Tinkler-Villani, Peter Davidson and Jane Stevenson

Exhibited by Candlelight: Sources and Developments in the Gothic Tradition focuses on a number of strands in the Gothic. The first is Gothic as a way of looking. Paintings used as reference points, tableaux, or the Hammer Studios' visualizations of Dracula present ways of seeing which are suggestive and allow the interplay of primarily sexual passions. Continuity with the past is a further strand which enables us to explore how the sources of the Gothic are connected with the origin of existence and of history, both individual and general. Here, the Gothic offers a voice for writers whose perceptions do not fit into those of the dominant group, which makes them sensitive both to psychological and social gaps. This leads to an exploration of the very idea of sources and an attempt to bridge the gaps, as can be observed in the variety of epithets used to clarify the ways that Gothic works, ranging from heroic gothic to porno-gothic. This takes the reader to the main core of Gothic: a genre which is always ready to admit new forms of the unreal to enter and change whatever has become mainstream literature, and a way of reading and a mode profoundly affecting the reading experience. The Gothic mode cultivates its wicked ways in literature, working through it as a leavening yeast.

From Princes to Pages

The Literary Lives of Cardinal Wolsey, Tudor England’s ‘Other King’

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Gavin E. Schwartz-Leeper

In From Princes to Pages, Gavin Schwartz-Leeper provides a wide-ranging assessment of early modern literary characterizations of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s chief minister from 1515-1529. Called the ‘other king’, Wolsey became a contested symbol of the English Reformation through diverse literary depictions that demonstrate the transformative pressures of this complex period.

The author traces the development of these characterizations from the satires of John Skelton to Shakespeare and Fletcher’s Henry VIII, and offers new considerations of canonical and lesser-known texts by George Cavendish, John Foxe, and Raphael Holinshed. This study brings together multidisciplinary analyses to demonstrate how Wolsey’s literary lives reveal much about the contemporary shaping of this period, and argues for new ways to understand uses of the past in early modern England.



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Edited by Maurizia Boscagli and Enda Duffy

Joyce, Benjamin and Magical Urbanism offers for the first time a sustained exploration of parallels between the fiction of James Joyce and the cultural criticism of Walter Benjamin. Benjamin is perhaps modernism’s most eloquent theorist, Joyce its finest writer of fiction; both haunted the same Paris streets at the height of the modernist moment, and both developed accounts of the flaneur’s encounter with the city, with commodity culture and with others, that were revolutionary in their day and continue to set the agendas for culture and cultural critique. To place some of the work of each side by side is to make evident their affinities: the skills of each as new cartographers of the urban, the interest of each in ethnicity, nationalism, and exile, the way in which the ‘Profane illumination’ celebrated by Benjamin meets the ‘Epiphany’ of Joyce’s A Portrait, as each rethought the epistemology of insight in the modernist moment. This collection explores these parallels between two of the greatest modernists, casting the aesthetic strategies of Joyce in the light of the aesthetic critique of Benjamin, opening up the politics of the one in the light of those of the other, and discerning the parallels between Joyce’s version of a modern urban world in which self and society effect an uneasy rapprochement and Benjamin’s modernist scenarios in which the aura might still linger. This collection discovers extraordinary parallels between the two writers who, writing in Paris, offered new accounts of urban selfhood and survival to the world.

Inside Out

Women negotiating, subverting, appropriating public and private space

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Edited by Teresa Gómez Reus and Aránzazu Usandizaga

The incursions of women into areas from which they had been traditionally excluded, together with the literary representations of their attempts to negotiate, subvert and appropriate these forbidden spaces, is the underlying theme that unites this collection of essays. Here scholars from Australia, Greece, Great Britain, Spain, Switzerland and the United States reconsider the well-entrenched assumptions associated with the public/private distinction, working with the notions of public and private spheres while testing their currency and exploring their blurred edges. The essays cover and uncover a rich variety of spaces, from the slums and court-rooms of London to the American wilderness, from the Victorian drawing-room and sick-room to out of the ordinary places like Turkish baths and the trenches of the First World War. Where previous studies have tended to focus on a single aspect of women’s engagement with space, this edited book reveals a plethora of subtle and tenacious strategies found in a variety of discourses that include fiction, poetry, diaries, letters, essays and journalism. Inside Out goes beyond the early work on artistic explorations of gendered space to explore the breadth of the field and its theoretical implications.

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.