Distant Voices Still Heard: Contemporary Readings of French Renaissance Literature

Oxford University Press
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This book seeks to satisfy a pedagogical need. It is designed for the new graduate student in England and elsewhere, although it may profitably be used by the enterprising final year undergraduate. Its aim is to introduce the modern student to readings of French Renaissance literature, drawing on the perspectives of contemporary literary theories. The volume is organised by paired readings of five major sixteenth-century French writers, with interpretations covering, among others, structuralism, semiotics, feminism and psychoanalysis. Linking these interpretations is a constant interest in problems such as the role of the reader, the nature of the text and the question of gender. The Introduction contextualises the encounter between literary theory and Renaissance texts by using the contributions as pivotal points in the development of critical thinking about this period in early modern literature. All foreign language quotations are translated into English, and the book is intended to be of practical interest to a wide range of readers, from modern linguists to those studying critical theory, comparative literature or cultural history.
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About the author

John O'Brien is Professor in the Department of French at Royal Holloway, University of London. Malcolm Quainton is Professor of French Studies in the Department of European Languages and Cultures, Lancaster University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 1, 2000
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9781781386439
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / European / French
True Crime / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A compelling portrait of a group of boys as they navigate the complexities of being both American teenagers and good Muslims

This book provides a uniquely personal look at the social worlds of a group of young male friends as they navigate the complexities of growing up Muslim in America. Drawing on three and a half years of intensive fieldwork in and around a large urban mosque, John O’Brien offers a compelling portrait of typical Muslim American teenage boys concerned with typical teenage issues—girlfriends, school, parents, being cool—yet who are also expected to be good, practicing Muslims who don’t date before marriage, who avoid vulgar popular culture, and who never miss their prayers.

Many Americans unfamiliar with Islam or Muslims see young men like these as potential ISIS recruits. But neither militant Islamism nor Islamophobia is the main concern of these boys, who are focused instead on juggling the competing cultural demands that frame their everyday lives. O’Brien illuminates how they work together to manage their “culturally contested lives” through subtle and innovative strategies—such as listening to profane hip-hop music in acceptably “Islamic” ways, professing individualism to cast their participation in communal religious obligations as more acceptably American, dating young Muslim women in ambiguous ways that intentionally complicate adjudications of Islamic permissibility, and presenting a “low-key Islam” in public in order to project a Muslim identity without drawing unwanted attention.

Closely following these boys as they move through their teen years together, Keeping It Halal sheds light on their strategic efforts to manage their day-to-day cultural dilemmas as they devise novel and dynamic modes of Muslim American identity in a new and changing America.

"John O'Brien was a stunningly talented writer who created poetry from the most squalid materials."—Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City

Within the walls of a foreboding mansion situated in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, the suave Double Felix plays host to an array of beautiful women as well as his unlikely sidekick William. The mysterious patriarch grants his live-in guests’ every wish while asking nothing in return. Days begin with William and Double Felix discussing their conquests with the ladies over morning Vodka, a ritual that is nonetheless edged in homoerotic tension. From there the drinking continues, only to be interrupted by some miscellany—perhaps a rerun of The Love Boat or some casual sex.

But the ongoing torpor has been upset by the house's newest arrival, a stunning young woman named Laurie, with whom both Double Felix and William become hopelessly smitten. Trash-talking Maggie and Zipper, the hooker who flew in on a trick and never left, smolder with envy while Laurie garners more and more attention from the men.

As tensions spiral out of control, the house—an almost anthropomorphic entity in itself—ejects some of its denizens while further ensnaring others. Eventually, each faces the same ultimatum: leave or stay. The decision is fraught with consequence.

Better delves deep into the psyche of its subjects through an intricate web of cultural icons, loyalty, covert communications, and sex. John O'Brien's characters loom in and out of a surreal world that seems to float high above the rest of us, but is in fact firmly tethered to the human condition.

John O'Brien was born in 1960 and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He moved to Los Angeles in 1982 with his then-wife Lisa. During his lifetime, he was a busboy, file clerk, and coffee roaster, but writing was his true calling. He committed suicide in April 1994 at age thirty-three. His published fiction includes Leaving Las Vegas, The Assault on Tony's, and Stripper Lessons.
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