Spring 2010, Volume 43, Number 1
Innocenting the Immigrant Experience: Photographs in Mary Antin’s The Promised Land
This article considers how the reader’s perception of Antin is influenced
by the interplay of text and image, but beyond identifying a dichotomy
between the two sets of images, it examines more the subtle movement
from documentary to personal that highlights Antin’s process of assimilation.
Hemingway’s Very Short Experiment: From “A Very Short Story” to A Farewell to Arms
Hemingway was experimenting with language, themes, and even emotions
in “A Very Short Story.” Some elements of this experiment were
successful, such as the spare prose, the application of the “iceberg” principle,
and the thematic equation of the wounds of love to the wounds of
war. But the author also presumably learned the importance of distancing
himself from his characters, and that some wounds are too raw to use as
source material. In this way, “A Very Short Story” should be viewed as a
literary laboratory, one whose final output was an American masterpiece.
Hobo Time and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping
Three images truly stand out in Marilynne Robinson’s 1981 novel,
Housekeeping—the house, the lake, and the train. The house and the lake
have received a good deal of critical attention. What is surprising is the
lack of focus given to the train, which is usually mentioned in an aside
only to remark on its tropological significance to patriarchy and American
expansion or its phallic role as penetrator of the female lake. Especially
in considering the train, I argue that the dichotomy forms itself around the
representation of time in the novel, the ways of constructing time, and the
choices that these constructions offer to the characters and to the culture
Pinter Triptych: Three Essays on Two Monologues
Enactments of Desire: Examining the Text of Harold Pinter’s Monologue
The words themselves become physical objects to convey the play’s
larger themes of isolation and the vacillation between dichotomies as the
speaker seeks to resolve the tensions he feels over past relationships with
the addressee and the black girl.
Mirrored Stages: Monologues, Split Subjects, and the Truth of the Absurd
Craig N. Owens
Pinter’s opening gambit, citing the Pinter of nearly half a century earlier,
certainly qualifies as reflection, if by reflection we mean looking back in
time, not reflection across space. But that distinction between time and
space—as the two concepts are at play in the idea of reflection—alerts us
to how the reflection that opens Pinter’s speech proves inconsistent with
the kind of reflection that closes it.
Pinter and the Transconservative Signifier: Monologue on the Monologue in Monologue
The face is the mirror of the soul, bouncing projections back to their
source, serving as the figurative site of confrontation, conserving a
history of beliefs about spirit and essence, functioning finally as the ultimately
ambivalent surface, the plane that lies and the plane that reveals,
the surface that distracts and the surface that has gathered all of the buffets
and truths of a life, the front that misleads while all the time showing
us the essentials of character etched in the lines and snarls that wrinkle its
once perhaps placid surface.
“Me enamore de ti en un bazar”: Gender, Consumption, and Identity in Amar te duele
Maria Luisa Ruiz
The divide between Mexico profundo—an invented Mexico that privileges
middle- and upper-class, light-skinned urban populations—is further
complicated in an era when national identities are in flux. Where once
hegemonic national discourses disseminated an ideal community through
various media, recent texts illustrate how massification, commodification,
and spectacle continuously reconfigure social spaces in Mexico City
(Bartra). Further, “identity” as a unified, stable, and fixed entity has been
undermined by the hybrid and postmodern reality of a Mexico City no
longer linked to a nation-state but to mass consumption and spectacle;
new urban citizens are masses of consumers and defined by their consumption
of images, symbols, and products.
Academic Cultures: Professional Preparation and the Teaching Life Edited by Sean P. Murphy (Marja Mogk)
Murphy’s book is a pleasure to read, a valuable contribution to the profession,
and an important step in privileging reflections on teaching as a life
lived, not simply a set of skills learned or something we do when we’re
not doing scholarship. It’s also an important step in valuing the diversity
of faculty environments and opportunities available to new PhDs.
Body [in] Parts: Bodies and Identity in Sade and Guibert By Clara Orban (Kathryn Brigger Kruger)
Orban argues that Sade and Guibert set off on an encyclopedic mission
to articulate the totality of bodily existence—a Barthesian tout dire (the
attempt to say everything) that provokes readers to discomfort in its
transgressive enunciation of topics such as sexual gratification, physical
dismemberment, and bodily disease.
Capital Letters: Authorship in the Antebellum Literary Market By David Dowling (Pennie Pflueger)
David Dowling’s Capital Letters, the most recent contribution to
American authorship studies, not only adds a significant extension to this
fascinating area of nineteenth-century research originated by William
Charvat’s Authorship in America but uniquely sheds new light on links
that transcend gender and race.
Clear Cutting Eden: Ecology and the Pastoral in Southern Literature By Christopher Rieger (Christopher Allan Black)
Clear Cutting Eden’s eco-critical approach provides scholars with a new
lens through which to examine the pastoral’s influence upon Southern
nature writing. Rieger’s study of the pastoral convincingly demonstrates
how Southern modernists revised this aesthetic tradition to advocate for
continued environmental stewardship and conservation.
Cry For Me, Argentina: The Performance of Trauma in the Short Narratives of Aída Bortnik, Griselda Gambaro, and Tununa Mercado By Annette H. Levine (Janis Breckenridge)
Cry for Me, Argentina brings critical attention to previously neglected
works by three of Argentina’s most acclaimed female writers. The
book remains highly accessible and enjoyable to read, in part due to the
detailed plot summaries that accompany the literary critiques. Annette
Levine’s interdisciplinary approach assures that this text will be of interest
to a broad readership.
Milton Studies 48. Milton and Historicism Edited by Albert C. Labriola (Jeffrey Shoulson)
There is something wonderfully perverse about concluding a volume on
Milton and Historicism with an essay by one of historicism’s erstwhile
leading proponents calling for a critical retrenchment.
Radical Vernacular: Lorine Niedecker and the Poetics of Place Edited by Elizabeth Willis (Kristina Marie Darling)
Informed by such diverse fields as gender studies, cultural studies, musicology,
and technology studies, these essays offer a fascinating exploration
of this innovative poet’s vision of place as a nexus of the universal
and the particular. Thus questions about female identity, popular culture,
and rural life are presented in a concrete, and often interdisciplinary,
fashion. This text is perfect for courses dealing with regional identity,
women’s history, and twentieth-century American culture, in addition to
traditional literature seminars. Willis’s edited volume is a true service to
the academic community.