Literary Criticism & Theory

Call for Papers: Teaching Critical Theory in the Era of Globalization

ddped_18_1Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture is seeking submissions for a special issue edited by Helena Gurfinkel (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and Gautam Basu Thakur (Boise State University), titled “Critical Theory in the Era of Globalization,” and scheduled for October 2020.

The editors of this special issue are seeking contributions on teaching critical theory in the global present. What is the relevance of teaching theory in the era of globalization, and what is at stake? What are the challenges and unavoidable paradoxes of teaching theory at a time when global classrooms are geared toward both neoliberal information/skills acquisition and conservative knowledge accumulation?

Changes in the classroom reflect changes in global politics. In the decades following the Second World War, that is, in the midst of the Cold War and the rapid decolonization of the globe, critical theory gained popularity across Anglo-American English departments with its radical interrogations of traditional society, politics, and culture. It drastically dislocated the imperial boundaries of English studies and was responsible for challenging the canon – “birthing” gender and postcolonial studies and connecting literature to politics, subjectivity, and networks of commodity relations. But does theory retain these strengths in the twenty-first century college classroom? What relevance does it have as pedagogy and practice to better understand and address the challenges of contemporary social reality – climate change, depredation of democracy, neoliberalism and violence, and the so-called “death of the humanities”?

This special issue will ponder these questions, as we seek new ways of teaching undergraduate and graduate literary theory and criticism courses. The editors would particularly like to rethink the institution of the survey course, an accepted narrative that begins with formalism and ends with identity.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Teaching a theory survey course (graduate and/or undergraduate) in a globalized world: challenges, rewards, and methodologies.
  • Teaching critical theory: new methodologies, forgotten theories/forgotten methodologies, new theories.
  • Teaching critical theory in a graduate course in the current (global) job market.
  • Teaching global literatures as theory/ Global literary theory as pedagogy.
  • Teaching a global critical theory survey: resisting chronology.
  • Teaching critical theory beyond the Western university.

The editors invite articles of 5000-7500 words and position papers of 1500 words. Articles are open to all theoretical approaches. Position papers should address one of the following: 1) teaching queer theory; 2) teaching postcolonial theory; 3) teaching the non-human turn. In all cases, global pedagogical contexts are essential. Pedagogy uses The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.

Submission Deadlines:

March 2, 2018: 1-page CVs; abstracts of 500 words for articles, or of 150 words for position papers to Helena Gurfinkel and Gautam Basu Thakur.

September 4, 2018: full articles and position papers to Helena Gurfinkel and Gautam Basu Thakur.

Queries welcome.

Ireland: From Boom to Bust and Beyond

The most recent issue of boundary 2, “Ireland: From Boom to Bust and Beyond,” edited by Joe Cleary, is now available.

ddbou_45_1_coverThe articles in this issue explore the political, economic, social, cultural and literary impacts of the extraordinary neoliberal boom and bust cycle after the Irish government relinquished its economic sovereignty to a Troika comprised of International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB) and European Commission (EC) officials, a decision which precipitated massive unemployment and youth emigration, wage and social provision cuts, housing and medical crises, and saddled the Irish citizenry with a gargantuan national debt.  Despite much-lauded miracles of recovery, the effects of this boom and bust cycle will continue to be felt across Ireland for decades to come.

Dealing with the country’s republican past and neoliberal present, and with matters ranging from the economic causes to the political consequences of the crisis, this volume offers a wide-ranging overview of one of several devastating economic crises to have rocked the European Union in recent times. By situating the crisis in the context of related transformations in areas of religion, gender and sexuality, Republican history and national commemoration, poetry, the novel, and social and cultural policy, the essays within this issue argue that all aspects of Irish society have been radically transformed by several decades of neoliberal boom and bust and by the 2008 meltdown of the Celtic Tiger.

Read the foreword to the issue and “Glimpses of an Irish Republic” by Seamus Deane, freely available now.

Benjamin’s Travel

The most recent special issue of positions: asia critique, “Benjamin’s Travel,” edited by Briankle G. Chang, is now available.

ddpos_26_1_coverWalter Benjamin’s writings are popular among Chinese scholars, but variances of translation and interpretation have created an understanding of Benjamin that bears little resemblance to how Western scholars discuss and use Benjamin. This special issue uses that dissemblance as a starting point to explore what Benjamin’s writings have meant and continue to mean, bringing these multiple different versions of Benjamin into conversation. Contributors explore Benjamin’s fascination with the spiritual power of color, connect his youthful fascination with Chinese thought with his later writings, compare his ideas to the work of Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke and Vietnamese author Bùi Anh Tuấn, and analyze his experiments in imbuing book reviews with social commentary. This issue also includes a new translation of Benjamin’s essay “Chinese Paintings at the National Gallery.”

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction to the issue, now freely available.

Theater Magazine Publishes Elfriede Jelinek, Carrie Mae Weems

ddthe_47_3The most recent issue of Theater magazine features new performance texts from major artists Elfriede Jelinek and Carrie Mae Weems.

In the first edition of Theater to launch since the November 2016 election altered the American political landscape, the magazine looks to theater artists “to provide clarity where leaders sow confusion, to inspire when cynicism reigns, and to offer a moral compass while the nation reels in disorientation,” writes editor Tom Sellar.

Nobel laureate playwright Elfriede Jelinek’s newest work On the Royal Road: The Burgher King delves into the psyche of a businessman tyrant whose hold on power gets channeled through American pop culture iconography, among other creative filters. An intimate conversation between Jelinek and her longtime translator Gitta Honegger accompanies the script.

In her new performance text Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, celebrated artist Carrie Mae Weems contemplates grace in the face of racism and violence through music, song, spoken word, and video. Carl Hancock Rux introduces the text with a panoramic essay on Grace Notes as “a non-decorative inclusive self-portrait,” interrupting the peripheralization of black women.

Jennifer Krasinski’s rumination on Taylor Mac’s recent 24-hour marathon performance of music from the American songbook, as well as performance criticism from Krasinski and David Bruin, complete the issue.

To read the issue online, visit read.dukeupress.edu/theater.

Marianne Moore

The most recent special issue of Twentieth-Century Literature, “Marianne Moore,” edited by Heather Cass White and Fiona Green, is now available.

TCL_63_4_coverThe five essays collected in this special issue focus closely on the period many have identified as a turning point for poet Marianne Moore: the poems and essays she published between 1935 and 1944. The recent editions of The Pangolin and Other Verse and What Are Years account in part for this focus, but there are particular aspects of Moore’s career in this crucial decade that also compel attention. Like other poets of her generation, Moore turned her mind more fully to national and world events in the 1930s; with this came the explicitly ethical emphasis in her writing discussed in the first and last essays in this issue, by Heather White and David Herd, respectively. Like these two, the other articles make their larger claims—about criticism, about revision, about verse form, about performance, about politics—by means of detailed case study.

Read the introduction to this issue, now freely available.

Top Latin American Studies Titles Adopted for Course Use

cuba readerOur Latin American Studies authors are well known for their work in anthropology, art, cultural studies, Caribbean studies, Chicanx and Latinx studies, history, literature, film and media, and politics.

Our Latin American studies e-book collection includes over 500 titles in these subject areas. Many of our journals also cover Latin America. If you’re interested in gaining access to these resources, have your librarian contact our Library Relations team to get more information.

Here are the top 8 Latin American studies titles adopted for course use:

View the title list for the Latin American Studies collection, which features more than 500 e-books.

Foerster 2017 Prize Winner Announced

ddal_89_4We’re pleased to announce the 2017 winners of the Norman Foerster Prize, given to the best essays of the year published in American Literature. This year’s winner is John Levi Barnard for his essay “The Cod and the Whale: Melville in the Time of Extinction,” featured in volume 89, issue 4.

An honorable mention was awarded to Andrew Donnelly for “The Talking Book in the Secondary Classroom: Reading as a Promise of Freedom in the Era of Neoliberal Education Reform,” featured in volume 89, issue 2.

The committee had this to say about the prizewinning essay:

“John Levi Barnard’s ‘The Cod and the Whale: Melville in the Time of Extinction’ exemplifies what the interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities can contribute to the study of literature. Dazzlingly researched and theorized, the essay’s elaboration of a textual and historical ‘extinction-producing economy’ models for critics and readers how to think about matter and text in the same analytic horizon.”

Regarding Donnelly’s honorable mention, committee members commented that the essay “takes seriously the intellectual and social stakes of how humanists have put their faith in the promise that literacy will lead to freedom. Deeply informed by the intersecting histories of literacy, gender, and race, Donnelly’s essay balances the urgency of resisting neoliberal institutional practices that reward the exceptional individual with a careful account of the ambivalence inhering in established narratives about the intrinsic power of literacy. The essay is a serious, thoughtful piece about the necessity of thinking about pedagogical practices through an intersectional and historical lens.”

The 2017 committee members were Stephanie Foote (chair), Rachel Adams, Marianne Noble, Matthew Taylor, and Priscilla Wald.

Congratulations to John Levi Barnard and Andrew Donnelly! Read the essays, made freely available.

Song Dynasty Literature and Culture

ddjcl_4_2_coverThe most recent special issue of the Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, “Song Dynasty Literature and Culture,” edited by Ronald Egan, is now available.

Most of the articles in this volume point to new directions in the study of Song literature and cultural history. Contributors explore new lines of inquiry concerning familiar topics, such as the role that the practice of calligraphy played in Su Shi’s life (rather than his calligraphy style), and a new interpretation of the relationship between writing and moral values among Northern Song thinkers. Other articles take up topics that have been overlooked in previous scholarship, span fields that are usually kept separate (such as Su Shi’s biography, Buddhist lineage rivalries, and late imperial vernacular literature), or explore normative virtues, like filial piety, not as part of a philosophical system but as grappled with in lived experience. Collectively, the articles suggest the range of new approaches and topics that still await exploration in this source-rich dynastic period.

Learn more about this issue by reading the introduction, freely available, and browsing the table of contents.

Thomas Carlyle and the London Library

Thomas CarlyleThomas Carlyle’s 222nd birthday was yesterday, 4 December. In his honor, we are sharing several lectures on Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle given by Carlyle scholars Brent Kinser and David Sorensen this June at the Carlyle House in Chelsea. The event focused on Carlyle’s involvement with the London Library, the world’s greatest circulating library. Kinser and Sorensen were joined by Helen O’Neill, Librarian of the London Library.

Read the full versions of the talks from David Sorensen and Brent Kinser by selecting the titles of the lectures. We have included excerpts from the talks below.

AN EXCERPT FROM DAVID SORENSEN’S TALK, “Carlyle and the London Library

This evening we acknowledge one of Thomas Carlyle’s most noble, generous, and enduring acts of civic philanthropy: his founding of the London Library in St. James’s Square, a scheme which he first proposed in a speech that he delivered at the Freemason’s Tavern on June 24, 1840, which was reported four days later in the Examiner newspaper. It is worth rehearsing the circumstances behind this address, because they reveal the unusual combination of both personal and professional factors that prompted Carlyle to launch a campaign for the establishment of a new lending library in the center of London. Carlyle was forty-five years old when he began to formulate this plan: by this stage of his career he was the author of the Sartor Resartus and The French Revolution, a renowned public lecturer, and a committed social activist seeking to awaken the Victorian conscience to what he called “The Condition of England Question.”

In 1839 he was preparing to embark on another great historical quest, this time an edition of the letters and speeches of Oliver Cromwell. His experience with the French Revolution had taught him the urgent need of a high-class lending library which would provide him with the works that he required at hand in his quiet study upstairs in this house. He was embarrassed by the want of standard reference sources, and of the difficulty of working quietly in the British Museum. At Cambridge friends procured him copies of Clarendon and Rushworth, but as journeys from Chelsea to Bloomsbury became more laborious, he was determined to try what could be done to found in London a permanent lending library of standard literature. In a letter to his mother of 13 January 1839 he wrote, “Another object that engages me a little in these last weeks is the attempt to see whether a Public Library cannot be got here in London; a thing scandalously wanted, which I have suffered from like others. There is to be some stir made in that business now, and it really looks as if it would take effect.”

AN EXCERPT FROM BRENT KINSER’S TALK, “Carlyle, Gladstone, and the Neapolitan Candidate

On 4 May 1852, the first librarian of the London Library, J. G. Cochrane (b. 1780), breathed his last. The next Day Thomas Carlyle wrote to his brother Jack with a mixture of real sadness and practical exigency: “Poor old lumbering good-natured soul, I am sad to think of him, and that we shall never see him more.— [John Edward] Jones will summon a Comee Meeting so soon as the funeral is over: I know not in the least what they mean to do; but suppose they will find it good to be in no haste, but to pause well and to examine” (CLO: TC to JAC, 5 May 1852). There would be little pause in the effort to replace Cochrane, and the drama surrounding the appointment of his successor offers fascinating insights into the relationship between two of the London Library committee’s most important and influential members: Carlyle and William Ewart Gladstone.

In May 1852 Carlyle found himself incapacitated with the flu, which greatly reduced his ability to be directly involved with the discussions surrounding the choice of the next librarian, but greatly, and for us fortunately, increased his need to negotiate the choice in letters. Because of his illness, he sent Jane to see John Forster to relay his wishes: Carlyle wanted a complete accounting of the condition of the library before any move was made to choose Cochrane’s successor. As he had told his brother, Carlyle wanted a patient, careful process to unfold. Jane returned to report a “revolution,” which Carlyle relayed to his brother on 10 May:

Forster as I knew he wd, patronised all these salutary notions, ready to swear for them on the Koran if needful; but at the same time said, there was not the least hope of getting them carried; or anything but one carried, viz. the Election of Gladstone’s Neapolitan,—whh G. and his Helpers “were stirring Heaven and Earth to bring about; and which from the prest composition of the Committee (Milman, Lyttelton, Milnes, Hallam &c, a clear majority of malleable material, some of it as soft as butter, under the hammer of a Minister in posse [with that capacity]) they were “perfectly certain” to do it. . . . Gladstone, I think with Forster, will probably succeed: but he shall not do it without one man at least insisting on having Reason and common Honesty as well as Gladstone and Charity at other men’s expense, satisfied in the matter; and protesting to a plainly audible extent against the latter amiable couple walking over the belly of the former.— Such protest I am clearly bound to; and that, I believe, will prove to be all that I can do. Of Gladstone’s Neapolitan no man, Italian or other, has ever heard the name before: from G.’s own acct to me, I figured him as some ingenuous bookish young advocate, who probably had helped G. in his Pamphlets underhand,—a useful service, but not done to the Ln Library particularly. (CLO: TC to JAC, 10 May 1852)

The underlying reason for Carlyle’s dismay seems apparent enough. As if it were not bad enough dealing with one Neapolitan librarian, Anthony Panizzi of the British Museum, Gladstone had put forward a second one to take charge of Carlyle’s beloved London Library.

 

drs-bek-ho london 2017Stay connected! Learn more about Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle and to read their many letters, visit the Carlyle Letters Online. Follow @carlyleletters for daily tweets from these prolific writers.

50th Anniversary Issue: Thinking Through Novels

The 50th anniversary issue of Novel, “Thinking Through Novels,” a collaborative effort from the editorial and advisory boards of the journal, is now available.

ddnov_50_3_coverContributors to this special issue consider the most important events in the history and theory of the novels during the past three to five decades and then reconsider how that history, and how current novels produced for an international readership, challenge scholars to rethink how to read the novel.  They examine topics from world literature to race, gender, and the novel to how the rise of social media has impacted the novel’s role in imagining personal identity and social affiliation. This issue was partially inspired by a forum previously published in Novel volume 44, issue 1, “Futures of the Novel.”

Learn more about the issue and browse the table-of-contents here.