It begins with the personal, both past and present. It emphasizes Gass’s lifelong attachment to books and moves on to the more analytical, as he ponders the work of some of his favorite writers (among them Kafka, Nietzsche, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Proust). He writes about a few topics equally burning but less loved (the Nobel Prize–winner and Nazi sympathizer Knut Hamsun; the Holocaust).
Finally, Gass ponders theoretical matters connected with literature: form and metaphor, and specifically, one of its genetic parts—the sentence.
Gass embraces the avant-garde but applies a classic standard of writing to all literature, which is clear in these essays, or, as he describes them, literary judgments and accounts.
Life Sentences is William Gass at his Gassian best.
Gass’s new novel moves from World War II Europe to a small town in postwar Ohio. In a series of variations, Gass gives us a mosaic of a life—futile, comic, anarchic—arranged in an array of vocabularies, altered rhythms, forms and tones, and broken pieces with music as both theme and structure, set in the key of middle C.
It begins in Graz, Austria, 1938. Joseph Skizzen's father, pretending to be Jewish, leaves his country for England with his wife and two children to avoid any connection with the Nazis, who he foresees will soon take over his homeland. In London with his family for the duration of the war, he disappears under mysterious circumstances. The family is relocated to a small town in Ohio, where Joseph Skizzen grows up, becomes a decent amateur piano player, in part to cope with the abandonment of his father, and creates as well a fantasy self—a professor with a fantasy goal: to establish the Inhumanity Museum . . . as Skizzen alternately feels wrongly accused (of what?) and is transported by his music. Skizzen is able to accept guilt for crimes against humanity and is protected by a secret self that remains sinless.
Middle C tells the story of this journey, an investigation into the nature of human identity and the ways in which each of us is several selves, and whether any one self is more genuine than another.
William Gass set out to write a novel that breaks traditional rules and denies itself easy solutions, cliff-edge suspense, and conventional surprises . . . Middle C is that book; a masterpiece by a beloved master.
After nearly a lifetime of reading Rilke in English, William Gass undertook the task of translating Rilke's writing in order to see if he could, in that way, get closer to the work he so deeply admired. With Gass's own background in philosophy, it seemed natural to begin with the Duino Elegies, the poems in which Rilke's ideas are most fully expressed and which as a group are important not only as one of the supreme poetic achievements of the West but also because of the way in which they came to be written -- in a storm of inspiration.
Gass examines the genesis of the ideas that inform the Elegies and discusses previous translations. He writes, as well, about Rilke the man: his character, his relationships, his life.
Finally, his extraordinary translation of the Duino Elegies offers us the experience of reading Rilke with a new and fuller understanding.
These twenty-five essays speak to the nature and value of writing and to the books that result from a deep commitment to the word. Here is Gass on Rilke and Gertrude Stein; on friends such as Stanley Elkin, Robert Coover, and William Gaddis; and on a company of “healthy dissidents,” among them Rabelais, Elias Canetti, John Hawkes, and Gabriel García Márquez.
In the title essay, Gass offers an annotated list of the fifty books that have most influenced his thinking and his work and writes about his first reaction to reading each. Among the books: Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (“A lightning bolt,” Gass writes. “Philosophy was not dead after all. Philosophical ambitions were not extinguished. Philosophical beauty had not fled prose.”) . . . Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist (“A man after my own heart. He is capable of the simplest lyrical stroke, as bold and direct as a line by Matisse, but he can be complex in a manner that could cast Nabokov in the shade . . . Shakespeare may have been smarter, but he did not know as much.”) . . . Gustave Flaubert’s letters (“Here I learned—and learned—and learned.”) And after reading Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, Gass writes “I began to eat books like an alien worm.”
In the concluding essay, “Evil,” Gass enlarges upon the themes of artistic quality and cultural values that are central to the books he has considered, many of which seek to reveal the worst in people while admiring what they do best.
As Gass writes, “The true alchemists do not change lead into gold, they change the world into words.”
A Temple of Texts is Gass at his most alchemical.
From the Hardcover edition.
The topic—the writer in politics—was divided into three parts: politics as material for the writers’ work ("The Writer in Politics"), politics as a threatening power over the pen ("The Writer under a Politics"), and politics as a viewpoint held by writers ("The Writer with a Politics"). Major addresses were delivered by Breyten Breytenbach, a white South African who was an early critic of apartheid serving seven years in jail before being exiled from his homeland; Nuruddin Farah, the Somali author of a number of internationally recognized novels, including the trilogy Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship, who has also suffered exile; Carolyn Forché, an American poet whose experiences as a Guggenheim Fellow in El Salvador led to her noted second book of poetry, The Country Between Us; Antonio Skarmeta, the Chilean short story writer, screen writer, and novelist whose Insurrection deals with the Nicaraguan Revolution; Luisa Valenzuela, an Argentine novelist and journalist who fled her home country in 1979 and returned a decade later after the restoration of democracy only to find remnants of the former military regime still a legitimate target for her absurdist prose; and Mario Vargas Llosa, the widely acclaimed Peruvian novelist who founded Libertad, the political party under whose banner he unsuccessfully ran for president of his country.
The Writer in Politics also includes edited transcriptions of the panel discussions that followed each of the six major addresses. Panelists included Irish poet Eavan Boland, author of seven books of poetry, including In a Time of Violence; Marc Chenetier, professor of American literature at l’Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and translator of numerous American authors—including Gass—into French; Robert Coover, writer-in-residence at Brown University and author of such works as Origin of the Brunists and A Public Burning; Ron Himes, founder of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company, which produces African American and Third World playwrights; Liu Binyan, former special correspondent for China’s official newspaper and author of China’s Crisis, China’s Hope; poet Eric Pankey, whose books include Apocrypha and This Reliquary World; Anton Shammas, Palestinian Israeli author whose works include the novel Arabesque; and Richard Watson, professor of philosophy at Washington University and author of The Philosopher’s Demise: Learning French and the novel Niagara.
It begins with "In Camera," the first of the two novellas, and tells the story, which grows darker and dustier by the speck, of a Mr. Gab (who doesn’t have the gift) and his photography shop (in a part of town so drab even robbers wouldn’t visit), a shop stuffed with gray-white, gray-bleach photographs, each in its own cellophane sheet, loosely side-filed in cardboard boxes, tag attached . . . an inner sanctum where little happens beyond the fulsome, deep reverence for Mr. Gab’s images and vast collection, a homemade museum in the midst of the outer maelstrom . . . until a Mr. Stu (as in u-stew-pid) enters the shop, inspecting the extraordinary collection, and Mr. Gab’s treasure-filled, dust-laden, meticulously contained universe begins to implode . . .
In the story “Don’t Even Try, Sam,” the upright piano from the 1942 Warner Bros. classic Casablanca is interviewed (“I know why you want to talk to me,” the piano says. “It’s because everybody else is dead. Stars go out. Directors die. Companies fold. But some of the props get preserved. I’ve seen my friend the Vichy water bottle in the storeroom as wrapped up as the Maltese Falcon. We’d fetch a price now”) . . .
In another story, “Charity,” a young lawyer, whose business it is to keep hospital equipment honestly produced, offers a simple gift and is brought to the ambiguous heart of charity itself. In “Soliloquy for a Chair,” a folding chair does just that—talks in a barbershop that is ultimately bombed . . . and in “The Toy Chest,” Disneylike creatures take on human roles and concerns and live in an atmosphere of a child’s imagination.
An enchanting Gassian journey; a glorious fantasia; a virtuoso delight.
From the Hardcover edition.
The contributors consider representations of the black queer body, black queer literature, the pedagogical implications of black queer studies, and the ways that gender and sexuality have been glossed over in black studies and race and class marginalized in queer studies. Whether exploring the closet as a racially loaded metaphor, arguing for the inclusion of diaspora studies in black queer studies, considering how the black lesbian voice that was so expressive in the 1970s and 1980s is all but inaudible today, or investigating how the social sciences have solidified racial and sexual exclusionary practices, these insightful essays signal an important and necessary expansion of queer studies.
Contributors. Bryant K. Alexander, Devon Carbado, Faedra Chatard Carpenter, Keith Clark, Cathy Cohen, Roderick A. Ferguson, Jewelle Gomez, Phillip Brian Harper, Mae G. Henderson, Sharon P. Holland, E. Patrick Johnson, Kara Keeling, Dwight A. McBride, Charles I. Nero, Marlon B. Ross, Rinaldo Walcott, Maurice O. Wallace
Trites argues that the development of the genre over the past thirty years is an outgrowth of postmodernism, since YA novels are, by definition, texts that interrogate the social construction of individuals. Drawing on such nineteenth-century precursors as Little Women and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Disturbing the Universe demonstrates how important it is to employ poststructuralist methodologies in analyzing adolescent literature, both in critical studies and in the classroom. Among the twentieth-century authors discussed are Blume, Hamilton, Hinton, Le Guin, L'Engle, and Zindel.
Trites' work has applications for a broad range of readers, including scholars of children's literature and theorists of post-modernity as well as librarians and secondary-school teachers.
Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature by Roberta Seelinger Trites is the winner of the 2002 Children's Literature Association's Book Award. The award is given annually in order to promote and recognize outstanding contributions to children's literature, history, scholarship, and criticisim; it is one of the highest academic honors that can accrue to an author of children's literary criticism.
25th Anniversary Edition of Terry Eagleton’s classic introduction to literary theory
First published in 1983, and revised in 1996 to include material on developments in feminist and cultural theory
Has served as an inspiration to generations of students and teachers
Continues to function as arguably the definitive undergraduate textbook on literary theory
Reissue includes a new foreword by Eagleton himself, reflecting on the impact and enduring success of the book, and on developments in literary theory since it was first published
In Unclaimed Experience, Cathy Caruth proposes that in the "widespread and bewildering experience of trauma" in our century—both in its occurrence and in our attempt to understand it—we can recognize the possibility of a history no longer based on simple models of straightforward experience and reference. Through the notion of trauma, she contends, we come to a new understanding that permits history to arise where immediate understanding is impossible. In her wide-ranging discussion, Caruth engages Freud's theory of trauma as outlined in Moses and Monotheism and Beyond the Pleasure Principle; the notion of reference and the figure of the falling body in de Man, Kleist, and Kant; the narratives of personal catastrophe in Hiroshima mon amour; and the traumatic address in Lecompte's reinterpretation of Freud's narrative of the dream of the burning child.-- Robert Jay Lifton, M.D., author of Hiroshima in America and The Protean Self
From the Hardcover edition.
Moving seamlessly across genres and disciplines, Dayan considers legal practices and spiritual beliefs from medieval England, the North American colonies, and the Caribbean that have survived in our legal discourse, and she explores the civil deaths of felons and slaves through lawful repression. Tracing the legacy of slavery in the United States in the structures of the contemporary American prison system and in the administrative detention of ghostly supermax facilities, she also demonstrates how contemporary jurisprudence regarding cruel and unusual punishment prepared the way for abuses in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.
Using conventional historical and legal sources to answer unconventional questions, The Law Is a White Dog illuminates stark truths about civil society's ability to marginalize, exclude, and dehumanize.
Characterization has long been a troubled and neglected problem within literary theory. Through close readings of such novels as Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, and Le Père Goriot, Woloch demonstrates that the representation of any character takes place within a shifting field of narrative attention and obscurity. Each individual--whether the central figure or a radically subordinated one--emerges as a character only through his or her distinct and contingent space within the narrative as a whole. The "character-space," as Woloch defines it, marks the dramatic interaction between an implied person and his or her delimited position within a narrative structure. The organization of, and clashes between, many character-spaces within a single narrative totality is essential to the novel's very achievement and concerns, striking at issues central to narrative poetics, the aesthetics of realism, and the dynamics of literary representation.
Woloch's discussion of character-space allows for a different history of the novel and a new definition of characterization itself. By making the implied person indispensable to our understanding of literary form, this book offers a forward-looking avenue for contemporary narrative theory.
Contributors. M. M. Bakhtin, John Barth, Roland Barthes, Wayne Booth, John Brenkman, Peter Brooks, Catherine Burgass, Seymour Chatman, J. Yellowlees Douglas, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Wendy B. Faris, Barbara Foley, E. M. Forster, Joseph Frank, Joanne S. Frye, William H. Gass, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Gérard Genette, Ursula K. Heise, Michael J. Hoffman, Linda Hutcheon, Henry James, Susan S. Lanser, Helen Lock, Georg Lukács, Patrick D. Murphy, Ruth Ronen, Joseph Tabbi, Jon Thiem, Tzvetan Todorov, Virginia Woolf
"I have been led into an exploration of the way the social form of Elizabethan holidays contributed to the dramatic form of festive comedy. To relate this drama to holiday has proved to be the most effective way to describe its character. And this historical interplay between social and artistic form has an interest of its own: we can see here, with more clarity of outline and detail than is usually possible, how art develops underlying configurations in the social life of a culture."--C. L. Barber, in the Introduction
This new edition includes a foreword by Stephen Greenblatt, who discusses Barber's influence on later scholars and the recent critical disagreements that Barber has inspired, showing that Shakespeare's Festive Comedy is as vital today as when it was originally published.
Scarry argues that our responses to beauty are perceptual events of profound significance for the individual and for society. Presenting us with a rare and exceptional opportunity to witness fairness, beauty assists us in our attention to justice. The beautiful object renders fairness, an abstract concept, concrete by making it directly available to our sensory perceptions. With its direct appeal to the senses, beauty stops us, transfixes us, fills us with a "surfeit of aliveness." In so doing, it takes the individual away from the center of his or her self-preoccupation and thus prompts a distribution of attention outward toward others and, ultimately, she contends, toward ethical fairness.
Scarry, author of the landmark The Body in Pain and one of our bravest and most creative thinkers, offers us here philosophical critique written with clarity and conviction as well as a passionate plea that we change the way we think about beauty.
... a first-rate edition, which supersedes all other portable Peirces.... all the Peirce most people will ever need." —Louis Menand, The New York Review of Books
Volume 2 of this convenient two-volume chronological reader’s edition provides the first comprehensive anthology of the brilliant American thinker Charles Sanders Peirce’s mature philosophy. A central focus of Volume 2 is Peirce’s evolving theory of signs and its appplication to his pragmatism.
What is the nature of the relationship of Jacques Derrida and deconstruction to Edmund Husserl and phenomenology? Is deconstruction a radical departure from phenomenology or does it trace its origins to the phenomenological project? In Derrida and Husserl, Leonard Lawlor illuminates Husserl's influence on the French philosophical tradition that inspired Derrida's thought. Beginning with Eugen Fink's pivotal essay on Husserl's philosophy, Lawlor carefully reconstructs the conceptual context in which Derrida developed his interpretation of Husserl. Lawlor's investigations of the work of Jean CavaillÃ ̈s, Tran-Duc-Thao, and Jean Hyppolite, as well as recent texts by Derrida, reveal the depth of Derrida's relationship to Husserl's phenomenology. Along the way, Lawlor revisits and sheds light on the origin of many important Derridean concepts, such as deconstruction, the metaphysics of presence, diffÃ©rance, intentionality, the trace, and spectrality.
This strikingly original book provides eloquent analyses of such postmodernist feminists as Judith Butler, Donna Haraway, Norma Alarcón, and Chela Sandoval, and counters the assimilationist proposals of minority neoconservatives such as Shelby Steele and Richard Rodriguez. It advances realist proposals for multicultural education and offers an understanding of the interpretive power of Chicana feminists including Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Helena María Viramontes. Learning from Experience enlarges our concept of identity and offers new ways to situate aspects of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation in discursive and sociopolitical contexts.
This work presents a provocative theory: that drawings and sequential images are structured the same as language. Building on contemporary theories from linguistics and cognitive psychology, it argues that comics are written in a visual language of sequential images that combines with text. Like spoken and signed languages, visual narratives use a lexicon of systematic patterns stored in memory, strategies for combining these patterns into meaningful units, and a hierarchic grammar governing the combination of sequential images into coherent expressions. Filled with examples and illustrations, this book details each of these levels of structure, explains how cross-cultural differences arise in diverse visual languages of the world, and describes what the newest neuroscience research reveals about the brain's comprehension of visual narratives. From this emerges the foundation for a new line of research within the linguistic and cognitive sciences, raising intriguing questions about the connections between language and the diversity of humans' expressive behaviours in the mind and brain.
Critical Practice argues that theory matters, because it makes a difference to what we do when we read, opening up new possibilities for literary and cultural analysis. Poststructuralism, in conjunction with psychoanalysis and deconstruction, makes radical change to the way we read both a priority and a possibility.
With a new chapter, updated guidance on further reading and revisions throughout, this second edition of Critical Practice is the ideal guide to the present and future of literary studies.
Yellow stigmatization has had a long history: it goes back to the Middle Ages when Jews and prostitutes were forced to wear yellow signs to emphasize their marginal status. Although scholars have commented on these associations in particular contexts, Sabine Doran offers the first overarching account of how yellow connects disparate cultural phenomena, such as turn-of-the-century decadence (the "yellow nineties"), the rise of mass media ("yellow journalism"), mass immigration from Asia ("the yellow peril"), and mass stigmatization (the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany).
The Culture of Yellow combines cultural history with innovative readings of literary texts and visual artworks, providing a multilayered account of the unique role played by the color yellow in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European culture.
In this new book Zygmunt Bauman - one of the most brilliant and influential social thinkers of our time - retraces the peregrinations of the concept of culture and examines its fate in a world marked by the powerful new forces of globalization, migration and the intermingling of populations. He argues that Europe has a particularly important role to play in revitalizing our understanding of culture precisely because Europe, with its great diversity of peoples, languages and histories, is the space where the Other is always one’s neighbour and where each is constantly called upon to learn from everyone else.
When society denies a patient’s disease and then forbids survivors mourning rites, how does a child bear witness to a parent’s death or a lover grieve for his beloved? Looking at a range of high and popular works of grief—including elegies, eulogies, epistles to the dead, funerals, and obituaries—Woubshet identifies a unique expression of mourning that emerged in the 1980s and early 1990s in direct response to the AIDS catastrophe. What Woubshet dubs a "poetics of compounding loss" expresses what it was like for queer mourners to grapple with the death of lovers and friends in rapid succession while also coming to terms with the fact of their own imminent mortality.Â The time, consolation, and closure that allow the bereaved to get through loss were for the mourners in this book painfully thwarted, since with each passing friend, and with mounting numbers of the dead, they were provided with yet more evidence of the certain fatality of the virus inside them.
Ultimately, the book argues, these disprized mourners turned to their sorrow as a necessary vehicle of survival, placing open grief at the center of art and protest, insisting that lives could be saved through the very speech acts precipitated by death. An innovative and moving study, The Calendar of Loss illuminates how AIDS mourning confounds and traverses how we have come to think about loss and grief, insisting that the bereaved can confront death in the face of shame and stigma in eloquent ways that also imply a fierce political sensibility and a longing for justice.-- Marlon Ross, University of Virginia, author of Manning the Race: Reforming Black Men in the Jim Crow Era
In the past, Goodspeed-Chadwick explains, scholars have not considered writings by women as part of war literature. They have limited "war writing" to works by men, such as William Butler Yeats's poem "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" (1919), which relies on a male perspective: a pilot contemplates his forthcoming flight, his duty to his country, and his life in combat. But works by Djuna Barnes, H.D., and Gertrude Stein set in wartime reveal experiences and views of war markedly different from those of male writers. They write women and their bodies into their texts, thus creating space for female war writing, insisting on female presence in wartime, and, perhaps most significantly, critiquing war and patriarchal politics, often in devastating fashion.
Goodspeed-Chadwick begins with Barnes, who in her surrealist novel Nightwood (1936) emphasizes the actual perversity of war by placing it in contrast to the purported perverse and deviant behavior of her main characters. In her epic poem Trilogy (1944--1946), H.D. validates female suffering and projects a feminist, spiritual worldview that fosters healing from the ravages of war. Stein, for her part, in her experimental novel Mrs. Reynolds (1952) and her long love poem Lifting Belly (1953), captures her experience of the everyday reality of war on the home front, within the domestic economy of her household.
In these works, the female body stands as the primary textual marker or symbol of female identity -- an insistence on women's presence in both the text and in the world outside the book. The strategies employed by Barnes, H.D., and Stein in these texts serve to produce a new kind of writing, Goodspeed-Chadwick reveals, one that ineluctably constructs a female identity within, and authorship of, the war narrative.
Divided into three distinct sections, this premiere volume captures the distinctiveness of different game types, the forms of play they engender and their social and cultural implications. Contributors examine a range of games, from classics like Final Fantasy to blockbusters like World of Warcraft to obscure genre bending titles like Lux Pain. Working from a broad range of disciplines such as ecocritism, rhetoric, performance, gender, and communication, these essays yield insights that enrich the field of game studies and further illuminate the cultural, psychological and philosophical implications of a society that increasingly produces, plays and discourses about role playing games.
A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading—how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader.
What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? The collection of fragmented images on a page—a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so—and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved—or reviled—literary figures. In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf's Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature—he considers himself first and foremost as a reader—into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In all literate societies, however, speech in turn is interpreted by reference to the culturally dominant writing system. This puts in place a system of educational values which ensures that the more literate members of society maintain superiority over the less literate, and at the same time establishes a hierarchy among literate societies which favours the local product (alphabetic scripts in the Western Case).
Roy Harris shows that the theory of writing adopted in modern linguistics is deeply flawed. Reversing the orthodox priorities, the author argues that writing is a far more powerful mode of linguistic communication than speech could ever be. His book is a major contribution to current debates about human communication written and spoken.
Kurt Vonnegut’s desire to save the planet from environmental and military destruction, to enact change by telling stories that both critique and embrace humanity, sets him apart from many of the postmodern authors who rose to prominence during the 1960s and 1970s. This new look at Vonnegut’s oeuvre examines his insistence that writing is an “act of good citizenship or an attempt, at any rate, to be a good citizen.” By exploring the moral and philosophical underpinnings of Vonnegut’s work, Todd F. Davis demonstrates that, over the course of his long career, Vonnegut has created a new kind of humanism that not only bridges the modern and postmodern, but also offers hope for the power and possibilities of story. Davis highlights the ways Vonnegut deconstructs and demystifies the “grand narratives” of American culture while offering provisional narratives—petites histoires—that may serve as tools for daily living.
Who comes after the human? This is the question that posthumanists are taking as their starting point. This critical introduction understands posthumanism as a discourse, which, in principle, includes everything that has been and is being said about the figure of the 'posthuman'. It outlines the genealogy of the various posthuman 'scenarios' in circulation and engages with their theoretical and philosophical assumptions and social and political implications. It does so by connecting the philosophical debate about the future of humanity with a range of texts, including examples from new media, popular culture, science and the media.
nature of weakness has inspired some of the most influential aesthetic and
philosophical portraits of the human condition. By reading a selection of
canonical literary and philosophical texts, Michael O'Sullivan charts a history
of responses to the experience and exploration of weakness.
Beginning with Plato and Aristotle, this first book-length study of the concept
explores weakness as it is interpreted by Lao Tzu, Nietzsche, Derrida, the
Romantics, Dickens and the Modernists. It examines what feminist writers Simone
de Beauvoir and Luce Irigaray have made of the gendered biomythology
constructed around the figure of the "weaker vessel" and it considers related
notions such as im-potentiality, a "syntax of weakness" and human vulnerability
in the work of Agamben, Beckett and Coetzee.
Through analysis of these differing versions of weakness, O'Sullivan's study
challenges the popular myth that aligns masculine identity with strength and
force and presents a humane weakness as a guiding motif for debates in ethics.
Ten Lessons in Theory argues, and even demonstrates, that "theoretical writing" is nothing if not a specific genre of "creative writing," a particular way of engaging in the art of the sentence, the art of making sentences that make trouble-sentences that make, or desire to make, radical changes in the very fabric of social reality.
As its title indicates, the book proceeds in the form of ten "lessons," each based on an axiomatic sentence selected from the canon of theoretical writing. Each lesson works by creatively unpacking its featured sentence and exploring the sentence's conditions of possibility and most radical implications. In the course of exploring the conditions and consequences of these troubling sentences, the ten lessons work and play together to articulate the most basic assumptions and motivations supporting theoretical writing, from its earliest stirrings to its most current turbulences.
Provided in each lesson is a working glossary: specific critical keywords are boldfaced on their first appearance and defined either in the text or in a footnote. But while each lesson constitutes a precise explication of the working terms and core tenets of theoretical writing, each also attempts to exemplify theory as a "practice of creativity" (Foucault) in itself.
In the Beginning, She Was reworks themes that are central to Irigaray's thought: the limits of Western logic, the sexuation of discourse, the existence of two different subjects, the necessity of art as mediation towards another culture. These themes are approached with a new level of maturity that reconfirms the place of Irigaray as one of the world's most important contemporary thinkers.
This “narcissistic fetish of number” speaks to a tangle of desires and denials rooted in the history of the South, capitalism, and colonialism. No one evades participation in these “disturbing equations,” says Benson, wherein longing for increase, accumulation, and superiority collides with repudiation of the means by which material wealth is attained. Writers from marginalized groups--including African Americans, Native Americans, women, immigrants, and the poor--have deeply internalized and co-opted methods and tropes of the master narrative even as they have struggled to wield new voices unmarked by the discourse of the colonizer.
Having nominally emerged from slavery’s legacy, the South is now situated in the agonized space between free market capitalism and social progressivism. Elite southerners work to distance themselves from capitalism’s dehumanizing mechanisms, while the marginalized yearn to realize the uniquely American narrative of accumulation and ascent. The fetish of numbers emerges to signify the futility of both.
He concludes that this semiotics of interaction is more appropriate than other versions because it focuses on the characteristics of interactive media as they are experienced and the way in which users make sense of them rather than thinking about interface design or usability issues.