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Plautus’ Pseudolus plays upon the concept of ‘credit’, and reveals the similar nature of the belief that audiences grant to the stage-events and the belief in someone’s credit that underpins borrowing and lending. The Roman understanding of credit in both senses anticipates the modern emergence of the concept of fiction within a modern mercantile economyy.
Against those who say that the ancient world never developed a theory of fiction, the chapter argues that a concept of fiction is operative already in Homer and is articulated in Aristotle’s Poetics, and explores the relationship between ancient and modern theories of what kind of assent audiences and readers give to what they are reading or seeing on the stage.
Surrealist practice of the early twentieth century anticipates the biopolitics of contemporary animal philosophy. Modern surrealists welcomed Charles Darwin's paradigm shift, moving beyond any bright line that distinguished humans as a species from the rest of the animal kingdom. Surrealism's investment in evolutionary biology – promoted in journals such as Minotaure, Documents, and View – buttressed its political critique of humanist exceptionalism, sovereign individualism, and any ideal telos that defined the origins and destiny of humankind. Although surrealist animal representations frequently lapse into anthropocentric fantasy, surrealist manifestoes, art, poetry, fiction, and drama remain undeniably revolutionary in depicting human/animal hybridity and assailing the oppressive discursive linkages among classism, colonialism, and speciesism. In particular, the later careers of surrealists such as Leonora Carrington look ahead to recent ecofeminist and environmental debates concerning an “ethic of care,” defining kinship and companion networks in a decidedly posthuman community of human and nonhuman animals.
Denis Feeney is one of the most distinguished scholars of Latin literature and Roman culture in the world of the last half-century. These two volumes conveniently collect and present afresh all his major papers, covering a wide range of topics and interests. Ancient epic is a major focus, followed by Latin lyric, historiography and elegy. Ancient literary criticism and the technology of the book are recurrent themes. Many papers address the problems of literary responses to religion and ritual, with an interdisciplinary methodology drawing on comparative anthropology and religion. The transition from Republic to Empire and the emergence of the Augustan principate form the background to the majority of the papers, and the question of how literary texts are to be read in historical context is addressed throughout. All quotations from ancient and modern languages have now been translated and Stephen Hinds has contributed a foreword.
This chapter explores the trajectory of American urban ethnic literature, focusing on Italian American fiction –– after brief consideration of Jewish American fiction –– as selected writers make their journey from immigrants to ethnics. Unlike the few Italian immigrant writers who preceded them, whose work argued for acceptance as human beings and recognition as Americans, the children and grandchildren of Italian immigrants documented and explored the conditions under which they were born and raised. We see over the years in the shift from earlier Italian-American writers’ origin narratives featuring struggles with the host culture, alienation from the ancestral culture, and the price of integration, to the inward turn of later writers whose work mark the passage of the literary city from realist to modernist narrative. That inward turn toward loss in later generations is not merely formal; it measures the distance between a vibrant ethnic urban world commonly founded on regional identities (often called campanilismo) to the shards of memory, the ancestral ghosts that survive in recreated identities, and poses the aesthetic and existential question of what to make of it.
Wright’s literary career was encouraged by the Communist Party-sponsored John Reed Club and nurtured within the proletarian literary movement whose writers were committed to representing class inequality and warfare from the standpoint of the eventual triumph of the proletariat. Like many other proletarian writers, his fiction is, therefore, strongly influenced by the philosophy of dialectical materialism popular within the Communist movement. Wright’s fiction, notably Uncle Tom’s Children and Native Son, powerfully synthesizes a dialectical perspective with literary realist and naturalist representational techniques, although he also experimented with avant-garde literary techniques he associated with the likes of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, as evident in Lawd Today! His fiction depicts the ways in which his mostly poor, working-class black characters suffer intensely from the class system of capitalism and the racism it engenders. It also depicts the inherent potentials within his characters’ lives to transcend ideologically and materially the inimical social system at the root of their suffering.
Imaginary worlds are extremely successful. The most popular fictions produced in the last decades contain such a fictional world. They can be found in all fictional media, from novels (e.g., Lord of The Ring, Harry Potter) to films (e.g., Star Wars, Avatar), video games (e.g., The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy), graphic novels (e.g., One piece, Naruto) and TV series (e.g., Star Trek, Game of Thrones), and they date as far back as ancient literature (e.g., the Cyclops Islands in The Odyssey, 850 BCE). Why such a success? Why so much attention devoted to nonexistent worlds? In this article, we propose that imaginary worlds co-opt our preferences for exploration, which have evolved in humans and non-human animals alike, to propel individuals toward new environments and new sources of reward. Humans would find imaginary worlds very attractive for the very same reasons, and under the same circumstances, as they are lured by unfamiliar environments in real life. After reviewing research on exploratory preferences in behavioral ecology, environmental aesthetics, neuroscience, and evolutionary and developmental psychology, we focus on the sources of their variability across time and space, which we argue can account for the variability of the cultural preference for imaginary worlds. This hypothesis can therefore explain the way imaginary worlds evolved culturally, their shape and content, their recent striking success, and their distribution across time and populations.
In adapting his own speeches about the Creole rebellion, Frederick Douglass narrativized aspects of Madison Washington’s life to craft The Heroic Slave (1853). The novella, Douglass’s only foray into writing fiction, remains important for what it reveals about his shifting understanding of the relationship between aesthetics and politics as well as for what it illuminates about the arc of nineteenth-century African American literary history. With respect to his perspective on abolitionist politics in particular, Douglass used the occasion of writing The Heroic Slave to intimate a new position on physical violence and the right of revolution. With respect to African American literary history, The Heroic Slave marked a pivot towards the novel by a cadre of African American intellectuals in the years immediately before the Civil War.
Nineteenth-century literary realism develops alongside but is not identical to clinical medical realism. Recent scholarly work has focused, for good reason, on how literary and medical realisms overlapped during this period. However, it is useful also to consider some differences: dissimilarities in language (literary writers privileged spoken vernacular, while physicians developed a written rhetoric with a complex, specialized professional vocabulary), demography (literary realism largely chronicled the middle classes and respectable working people, while hospital-trained physicians wrote about poor urban patients), methodologies (medical men explored quantifiable data; literary realists continued to employ lengthy description), definitions of truth (medical reportage works to present a truthful portrayal of real events; literary rendering strives for a credible portrayal of fictional ones), and relation to the balance of detachment and sympathy (clinical physicians believed that detachment underwrites medical progress, although they did not always deny their sensibilities, often turning to literary realism or romance to manage such moments rhetorically). This chapter argues that medical and literary writers, attempting to negotiate, overcome, or uphold these key differences, defined what it meant for Victorians to tell the truth, well aware that all realism is a representation, and representation is only an approximation of the real.
The Victorian period was the most formative era for professional nursing and for cultural concepts of the nurse. The most prominent representative figures of nursing from the period were the disreputable Sairey Gamp – the infamous character from Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewitt – and the very real and very proper Florence Nightingale. The Victorian cultural perception of nursing was more complex than these polar opposites might suggest, however. The influences that cumulatively fashioned the popular figure of the nurse were legion and contradictory, ranging from camp follower to proselytising nun to heroic martyr.
The evolution of nursing practice from menial to professional work was widely examined and debated in the media and through fictional representations of nurses. As these treatments reveal, there was marked cultural ambiguity about the entrance of refined women into nursing, which, even in its most professional form, entailed a level of intimacy with both male and female bodies and bodily fluids that was disturbing to Victorian sensibilities. What emerges in both the media and fiction is a curious and very Victorian fixation on sexuality that was explicitly or implicitly directed at the women who practised nursing.
This chapter explores what is called a queer racial formalism. The narrative construct analyzed here involves intergenerational family sagas, a queer Asian North American character, and a heritage plot. This chapter investigates three variations of this narrative construct by engaging in short readings of Norman Wong’s Cultural Revolution (1994), Brian Leung’s Lost Men (2007), and Rahul Mehta’s No Other World (2017).
What is style, and why does it matter? This book answers these questions by recovering the concept of 'stylistic virtue,' once foundational to rhetoric and aesthetics but largely forgotten today. Stylistic virtues like 'ease' and 'grace' are distinguishing properties that help realize a text's essential character. First described by Aristotle, they were integral to the development of formalist methods and modern literary criticism. The first half of the book excavates the theory of stylistic virtue during its period of greatest ascendance, in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when belletristic rhetoric shaped how the art of literary style and 'the aesthetic' were understood. The second half offers new readings of Thackeray, Trollope, and Meredith to show how stylistic virtue changes our understanding of style in the novel and challenges conventional approaches to interpreting the ethics of art.
This essay presents a historical and critical overview of the antebellum plantation romance, or novels written by southerners and those sympathetic to the slaveholding South that deliberately manage the representation of the plantation space for a broader reading public. These representations, in their attempts to shape the image of the U.S. South around the idea of a unified, pastoral community, are reliant on the networks that made plantation culture possible in the first place: global trading, the rise of industrialism, and, of course, slavery. As such, the plantation in works such as John Pendleton Kennedy’s Swallow Barn (1832), George Tucker’s The Valley of Shenandoah (1824), Maria J. McIntosh’s The Lofty and the Lowly (1852), and William Gilmore Simms’s Woodcraft (1852/54) emerges as a heterogeneous entity. With these dynamic elements at play, despite its perceived regional limitations, the genre of the southern plantation romance reveals the conflicting forces that were the main currents in nineteenth-century culture and society.
This article explores the relation between belief-like imaginings and the establishment of imaginary worlds (often called fictional worlds). After outlining the various assumptions my argument is premised on, I argue that belief-like imaginings, in themselves, do not render their content true in the imaginary world to which they pertain. I show that this claim applies not only to imaginative projects in which we are instructed or intend to imagine certain propositions, but also to spontaneous imaginative projects. After arguing that, like guided imaginative projects, spontaneous projects involve specific imaginary truths, I conclude that imaginative projects, whether spontaneous or deliberate, comprise not only imaginings, but also mental acts of determining such truths.
While US military and economic interventions in the Caribbean as well as the protectorates of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands link these regions, categorizing the writing of Caribbean immigrants to the US is less clear. Contemporary Caribbean-American writing remains an amorphous category bounded by issues of language and ethnicity. Higher education and publishing practices frequently group Caribbean writers by their linguistic heritage or former European colonizer than by their status as migrants to the US. In addition, racial or ethnic identities mean that some writers are subsumed under an established racial category, like African American, while writers with Asian ancestry fit uneasily within established frameworks for Asian American literature. Despite these divisions, Caribbean-American writing shares many commonalities including critiquing US neo-imperialism, addressing the racism experienced by immigrants, and innovative uses of form and genre.
Chapter 1 introduces the object of this monograph: to present a new reading of the complete works of Constantine Manasses, thereby offering a potential model for analysing other authorships based on commission and patronage. The primary focus here is on the key concept of occasional literature and its specific position between writer and patron, fiction and reality. The latter is defined in terms of two kinds of referentiality: on the one hand, the text’s connection to the occasion (pretext/performance); on the other, its (literary/potentially fictive) representation of a ‘reality’ that is relevant to that occasion. It is assumed that writing on command privileges originality and encourages the challenging of conventions. A society like twelfth-century Byzantium, in which occasional poetry and rhetoric had central positions, therefore called for a strong and individual voice of the author, since the voice was the primary instrument for a successful career.
This chapter examines the genre of sensation fiction, which flourished alongside efforts to introduce British women’s suffrage into the Ballot Act of 1872. Sensation and suffrage were both seen as alarming, unnatural, and immoral attempts for women to gain representation. Sensation novels inspired much critical hand-wringing through their depiction of antiheroines and villainesses that supposedly imperiled the virtue and femininity of the female reader, who identified with them against her will. Modern critics tend to accept sensation’s self-advertisement according to which it elicits a reflexive, psychosomatic response from female readers. This chapter, however, asserts that Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s narrative techniques in her popular sensation novels prompt readers’ awareness of and resistance to the affinities ostensibly endorsed by the novels, soliciting the reader’s choices among multiple possible perspectives. At issue in the arguments for and against women’s enfranchisement were notions of women’s ethical integrity and susceptibility to affective influence. The chapter contends that sensation fiction fomented scandal not because it corrupted impressionable female readers with its content, but because it challenged the automatized emotionalism ascribed to women and promoted, instead, their rational and ethical autonomy – in direct opposition to the premises held by the anti-suffragists.
Examines Quintus’ use of memory as a device for literary recapitulation. Considers what happens when Quintus’ characters, who are ‘still in the Iliad’, remember the Iliad incorrectly. It is argued that rather than offering a correction of Homer’s version of events, Quintus uses the pliability of memory as a retrospective figure to defend and continue the act of poetic selectivity. He is therefore able to provide Homer’s response to charges of lying prevalent in revisionist strands of his imperial reception (e.g. in Dio Chrysostom, Dares, Dictys and Philostratus – who emerge as key players in this chapter).
This chapter argues that contemporary Irish-language writing demands a critical response that recognizes its increasingly transnational or global thematic range. The endangered status of the language, far from demoralizing writers, seems to provide them motivation to transcend limiting sociolinguistic realities. The minority subject position becomes a lens for engagement with global issues, as witnessed in a large and diverse body of poetry related to contemporary wars and international conflicts and in a body of fictional writing that engages with transnational history and cultural critique. Contemporary Irish-language writers collectively display an acute awareness of Irish participation or collusion in oppressive imperial or colonial projects. A selection of examples is cited to demonstrate how the resources of the Irish linguistic and literary tradition have been brought to bear on contemporary and historical events and predicaments. In giving voice to global concerns, the Irish language ironically becomes a potent medium with which to question the primacy of national ethnic identification.
In the aftermath of House Made of Dawn (1968) the assumption arose that it heralded a Native American Renaissance, the unprecedented literary flowering of fiction, poetry, life-writing, drama and discursive work. The roster typically included novels by Leslie Marmon Silko, James Welsh, Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor, the poetry of Luci Tapahonso, Simon Ortiz and Linda Hogan, and the theatre of Hanay Geiogamah. In Native American Renaissance, not un-controversially, Kenneth Lincoln would argue that a presiding canon had emerged. Questions, however, arose as to how to situate these undoubtedly important figures within the larger continuum of Native authorship. What status was to hold for the vast legacies of oral tradition, tribal oratory, trickster story, chants of healing, even visual art? How best to address Canadian/First Nation publication, E. Pauline Johnson to Tom King? What of contemporaries like Sherman Alexie? This chapter looks both vertically and horizontally to position the Native American Renaissance.