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Drawing on narrative theory, performance studies and the history and philosophy of science, this chapter explores the distinct kinds and functions of what we might call plant narratives – the stories we tell about botanical life, but also the stories that plants tell us. Charles Darwin’s botanical studies developed various techniques to study plant behaviour and record their movements in time. These methods drew scientific observers into an experimental ‘dance’ that aligned human and plant actions in order narratively to reconstruct evolutionary histories, especially histories of exaptation. These culminated in his last study, The Power of Movement in Plants (1880), which uses extensive illustrations to record and then reconfigure these individual micro-histories as what Darwin termed the ‘life history of a plant’. Ultimately, its holistic account integrates these individual narratives and evolutionary history through a unified narrative, a conclusive Bildungsroman detailing a generic plant’s experiences over the course of its life.
Samuel Johnson’s lifelong interest in travel and travel writing aligns neatly, in many ways, with his empiricist metaphysics. When we travel, we compare our assumptions and preconceptions against the real world and track the inevitable incongruities. But Johnson’s enduring interest in travel also reveals a more complex engagement with the material world – and Lockean empiricism more broadly – than we often recognize, and his attitude toward the genre is more complicated, more critical and probing, than we might expect. With reference primarily to Rasselas and A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, this chapter examines how Johnson leverages travel to combat habituation; enable comparative knowledge, which produces meaning and value; and assess our bodies and minds as we perceive, digest, and retain knowledge. Facilitating a comparative intellectual paradigm, and foregrounding epistemology, travel is, for Johnson, a critical posture that underpins his thinking far beyond his travel texts.
Chapter 14: Building Awareness of Discourse Structure. Skilled readers are tuned into how information is organized, how central themes emerge, and how signaling mechanisms provide cues to this organization. Skilled readers are able to identify the main or topic sentences as they appear in a text and are sensitive to text structures that help identify where to find main idea sentences. The chapter sorts written discourse analysis into two distinct approaches. The first examined specific aspects of the texts themselves, describing the roles of cohesion, information structuring, lexical signaling, anaphoric signaling, topic continuity signaling, text coherence, text genres, and patterns of discourse organization that underlie all prose texts. The second approach involves a focus on intentional inferencing skills and “deep comprehension.” The chapter then reviews research on discourse structure and reading comprehension in both L1 and L2 contexts. It also focuses specifically on the importance of using discourse sensitive graphic organizers. The chapter then describes research on teaching discourse structure awareness, and concludes with implications for instruction.
Conclusion: The final chapter sums up the findings of the book as a whole, assessing again whether its literary approach to the subject is productive. I also return to the question of gender, suggesting here that Mary embodies the characteristics (or virtues) of both genders to the extent that she becomes a paradoxical figure. I conclude that she appealed to both female and male devotees, since evidence of successful petitions from both genders survives. Finally, I point the way towards future studies that might follow the methodology that is employed in this book. Other literary genres that deal with the Virgin Mary require examination too; these include histories, chronicles, poetry, epistolography, polemical treatises and others.
Milton’s last poems operate as an array, a contiguous set of shifts in narrative and generic evaluation published over just a seven-year period. Charles Taylor argues that modernity “must be understood as . . . multiform contestation.” In Milton’s last three poems, it is. As an epic as a sui generis brief epic, and as a tragedy, respectively, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes represent, then, the values, the pressures, and sometimes even the losses, of pluralism. That these positions can overlap, though, is central to Milton’s contribution to a discussion of modernity, contrary to the familiar epochal break and shift of ideas that modernity is usually taken to represent. The different responses to the experience of modernity, while not necessarily modern, are part of that modernity nonetheless. In the introduction, I preliminarily I develop senses of modernity and responses to it. I also explore the relationship between context, fiction, anachronism, and the novel in the reception of Milton three late poems.
This chapter examines contemporary and emerging developments in the literatures of the Civil War and Reconstruction. It argues that two particular genres have recently taken root: stories about people previously overlooked by mainstream accounts of the era; and stories that approach the Civil War and Reconstruction as a source of philosophical meaning. The chapter explores the major iterations of these burgeoning genres and documents their ongoing evolution in texts such as George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo, Kasi Lemmons’s Harriet, Gary Ross’s Free State of Jones, and James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird.
While Chinese is widely considered a topic-prominent language and 'topic' may be a useful notion for describing some of the unique grammatical features of Chinese, natural text/speech data call for a re-examination of its nature and the ways in which it is manifested and deployed in discourse. My multiple genre-based investigation shows that at a ratio of 4 percent to all clauses, topic constructions are a very rare type of construction in Chinese discourse among all the possible types of syntactic constructions. As such, the status of topic constrictions in Chinese needs to be rethought. An examination of the use of topic constructions in spontaneous conversation shows a number of surprising patterns, including: (1) topic is best described as located at speaker turn transition places; (2) topical elements are subject to speaker negotiation, so they do not have to be definite, identifiable, or shared at the time of the utterance; and (3) topical elements function quite differently in interaction depending on whether they are self-initiated, self-repeated, or other-initiated.
Upending conventional scholarship on Milton and modernity, Lee Morrissey recasts Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes as narrating three alternative responses to a world in upheaval: adjustment, avoidance and antagonism. Through incisive engagement with narrative, form, and genre, Morrissey shows how each work, considered specifically as a fiction, grapples with the vicissitudes of a modern world characterised more by paradoxes, ambiguities, subversions and shifting temporalities than by any rigid historical periodization. The interpretations made possible by this book are as invaluable as they are counterintuitive, opening new definitions and stimulating avenues of research for Milton students and specialists, as well as for those working in the broader field of early modern studies. Morrissey invites us to rethink where Milton stands in relation to the greatest products of modernity, and in particular to that most modern of genres, the novel.
This Introduction provides an overview of the key ways in which literature and economics intersect. It firstly considers how literary texts encode economic knowledge in metaphorical – and more broadly tropic – uses of economic vocabulary, and via styles and forms that stand in a “homological” relation to monetary and financial systems. It then explains how critics have understood the ongoing overlaps between literature and economics as “genres” of writing, which have continued to borrow conventions from one another, even as the discipline of economics has become increasingly technical and mathematical. The Introduction next addresses the ways in which literary texts register the economic pressures to which they are most directly exposed: namely, the pressures of literary consumption and the literary marketplace. It closes by showing how social scientists are increasingly turning to literature and literary studies for economic insights, and by highlighting the emergence of the Economic Humanities as an interdisciplinary research field to which the approaches covered in this Cambridge Companion have made defining contributions.
What is a genre? How do genres differ between cultures and languages? How do generic texts get translated, and how does the specific genre affect the act of translation? This Element surveys the concept of genre itself, a number of different genres, and what happens to these genres through translation, while also providing an overview of research into these topics along with research-based approaches for translating work that can perhaps be labelled as generic.
In recent years, money, finance, and the economy have emerged as central topics in literary studies. The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Economics explains the innovative critical methods that scholars have developed to explore the economic concerns of texts ranging from the medieval period to the present. Across seventeen chapters by field-leading experts, the book highlights how, throughout literary history, economic matters have intersected with crucial topics including race, gender, sexuality, nation, empire, and the environment. It also explores how researchers in other disciplines are turning to literature and literary theory for insights into economic questions. Combining thorough historical coverage with attention to emerging issues and approaches, this Companion will appeal to literary scholars and to historians and social scientists interested in the literary and cultural dimensions of economics.
Chapter 4 examines the codification of agricultural knowledge, the process through which practical knowledge was transformed into writing. Rather than asking whether this produced ‘useful’ knowledge to improve farming methods, it asks: for whom was such knowledge useful? It first identifies the construction of ‘agriculture’ as a literary category and an independent body of theory in the seventeenth century, departing from classical and medieval genres. The main section analyses four key modes of codification from 1669 to 1792: systematic, theoretical, experimental and observational. It argues that fundamentally all these modes of codification were shaped by the need to subordinate customary knowledge and labour and establish the supremacy of written knowledge. It further argues that the art of husbandry was codified in accordance with the cultural preferences and managerial interests of landowners, professionals and large farmers. Hence farming books provided a managerial knowledge suitable for the emerging occupational structures of agrarian capitalism.
Opening up the warm body of American Horror – through literature, film, TV, music, video games, and a host of other mediums – this book gathers the leading scholars in the field to dissect the gruesome histories and shocking forms of American life. Through a series of accessible and informed essays, moving from the seventeenth century to the present day, The Cambridge Companion to American Horror explores one of the liveliest and most progressive areas of contemporary culture. From slavery to censorship, from occult forces to monstrous beings, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in America's most terrifying cultural expressions.
The pronouns they/them/their are readily available with a singular interpretation as bound variables (Balhorn 2004, Bjorkman 2017). Referential interpretations are possible, but subject to pragmatic considerations and changes in progress (Bjorkman 2017, Conrod 2019, Konnelly and Cowper 2020). In a series of experiments, we tested differences between bound and referential singular they in acceptability and incremental processing, asking whether bound they is sensitive to the gender of its antecedent, as referential they is (Doherty and Conklin 2017, Ackerman 2018, Ackerman et al. 2018, Conrod 2019). We found that bound singular they has an advantage over referential singular they in acceptability, even when the antecedent is gendered. In processing, however, bound-variable singular they showed a reading time advantage over referential singular they only with gendered antecedents. We evaluate these results against existing formal linguistic theories of singular they implemented within psycholinguistic models of pronoun processing. We submit that none of the theories fully captures the range of evidence we uncover, in particular the interaction between gender and quantification. We suggest a formal account that does: we propose, using representations from Kratzer (2009) and Sudo (2012), that gender and number features are differentially represented in referential versus binding dependencies. We speculate how this representational difference relates to the processing mechanisms of antecedent retrieval and to the limited processing advantage for bound singular they that we found.
This introduction lays out the primary contributions of the volume as a whole, loosely organizing the essays under the umbrella of three themes: form and genre, networks, and methods for living. The introduction also charts major shifts in the composition of nineteenth-century American literary studies, including changes in major methods, archives, and historical foci.
This article presents a Minimalist syntactic analysis of sociopragmatically conditioned gender features on pronouns. To account for inter- and intra-speaker variation, I locate the parameter for social gender in the presence or absence of an unvalued gender feature on the phase head D. Supporting this analysis, I show that variation in English speakers’ acceptability and use of definite, specific singular they, as in (i), is sensitive to reference; this sensitivity is robustly explained by the location of gender features on D.
(i) Taylori is writing theiri own autobiography.
For speakers who report (i) as ungrammatical, a crash results from the uGender feature on D remaining unvalued. For innovative speakers, uGender is not present on D and no crash results from a lack of gender features. This analysis explains why a pragmatic feature like social gender can cause true syntactic ungrammaticality, since the narrow syntax encodes certain pragmatic features as obligatory.
Tremper Longman begins the Companion by setting the stage for many of the chapters that follow. Of first importance is the fact that discussing ‘biblical wisdom literature’ is not as simple as it seems. For the category as such has been questioned, and, even among those scholars who agree to use the phrase, what it means and designates remains up for debate. Longman presents the various viewpoints in terms of the ‘traditional view’, reactions to it, and ‘the way forward’. Matters of genre, the grouping of biblical texts, and their social location or worldview arise, as do suspicions about how ‘wisdom literature’ came about within scholarship and a recent repudiation of what it has become. Longman’s way forward indicates that Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes do indeed have meaningful affinities, and that these texts can and should be studied together, as well as in relation to other OT texts.
In his chapter on Proverbs, Christopher Ansberry provides a refreshing introductory approach to the book, not least because he starts with the history of interpretation rather than letting thematic concerns dominate. He identifies five patterns within the history of the book’s interpretation, including a focus on character formation, debates about the nature of its ‘wisdom’ and place in the canon, interest in its reception via matters of date and authorship, the discovery of comparative ancient Near Eastern material, and current, expanding interdisciplinary approaches to the book. A section on the fundamental nature of the book takes on matters of form, genre, poetic features, and the idea of a ‘collection’, whilst granting admiration rather than suspicion to the complexities of the book’s sayings. Likewise, the structure of Proverbs, though containing many parts, comes together into a coherent whole, an ‘anthology’, to which each piece contributes. Ansberry concludes by proposing four ‘dominant’ themes in the book: the fear of the Lord; wisdom; moral order and created order; retribution and reward.
Simon Cheung discusses the scholarship surrounding the ‘wisdom psalms’, with an eye towards the varied proposals, as well as the grounds for and development of them over the last century. From this Cheung sets forth his own conception of wisdom psalms. They constitute ‘a family of psalms, with varying degrees of membership, that exhibit a wisdom-oriented constellation of its generic elements’. The core traits are likened to DNA, which can be more or less present, and mainly discerned in theme, tone and intention. ‘Wisdom psalms’, to some degree, then, feature wisdom, carry an ‘intellectual tone’ and a pedagogical intent, all of which Cheung inspects in Psalm 34:8–17. Overall, his approach may offer interpreters additional accuracy when considering wisdom and its influence within the Psalter.