Derek C. Maus
Unvarnishing Reality draws original insight to the literature, politics, history, and culture of the cold war by closely examining the themes and goals of American and Russian satirical fiction. As Derek C. Maus illustrates, the paranoia of nuclear standoff provided a subversive storytelling mode for authors from both nations—including Thomas Pynchon, Robert Coover, John Barth, Walker Percy, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Vasily Aksyonov, Yuz Aleshkovsky, Alexander Zinoviev, Vladimir Voinovich, Fazil Iskander, and Sasha Sokolov.
Maus surveys the background of each nation's culture, language, sociology, politics, and philosophy to map the foundation on which cold war satire was built. By highlighting common themes of utopianism, technology, and propaganda, Maus effectively shows the ultimate motive of satirists on both sides was to question the various forces contributing to the cold war and to expose the absurdity of the continuous tension that pulsed between the United States and the Soviet Union for nearly half a century. Although cold war literature has been studied extensively, few critics have focused so keenly on comparisons of satirical fictions by Russian and American writers that condemn and subvert the polarizing ideologies inherent in superpower rivalry. Such a comparison reveals thematic and structural similarities that transcend specific national and cultural origins. In considering these works together, Maus locates a thoroughgoing humanistic refutation of the cold war and its operative doctrines as well as a range of proposed alternatives. Just as the cold war combatants ultimately reconciled in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union, Maus seeks to bring these two literary canons together now. Their thematic scope transcends cultural differences, and, as Maus demonstrates, these writers saw that there was not only the atomic bomb to fear, but also the dangers of complete national militarization and the constant polarizing threat of emergency. Thus their cold war critiques still resonate today and invite further comparative studies such as this one.
Henry Veggian introduces readers to one of the most influential American writers of the last half-century. Winner of the National Book Award, American Book Award, and the first Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, Don DeLillo is the author of short stories, screenplays, and fifteen novels, including his breakthrough work White Noise (1985) and Pulitzer Prize finalists Mao II (1992) and Underworld (1998).
Veggian traces the evolution of DeLillo's work through the three phases of his career as a fiction writer, from the experimental early novels, through the critically acclaimed works of the mid-1980s and 1990s, into the smaller but newly innovative novels of the last decade. He guides readers to DeLillo's principal concerns—the tension between biography and anonymity, the blurred boundary between fiction and historical narrative, and the importance of literary authorship in opposition to various structures of power—and traces the evolution of his changing narrative techniques.
Beginning with a brief biography, an introduction to reading strategies, and a survey of the major concepts and questions concerning DeLillo's work, Veggian proceeds chronologically through his major novels. His discussion summarizes complicated plots, reflects critical responses to the author's work, and explains the literary tools used to fashion his characters, narrators, and events. In the concluding chapter Veggian engages notable examples of DeLillo's other modes, particularly the short stories that reveal important insights into his "modular" working method as well as the evolution of his novels.
A study of the roles community, financial support, texts, information structures, interfaces, and technology play in collaborative works
Wikipedia is arguably the most famous collaboratively written text of our time, but few know that nearly three hundred years ago Ephraim Chambers proposed an encyclopedia written by a wide range of contributors—from illiterate craftspeople to titled gentry. Chambers wrote that incorporating information submitted by the public would considerably strengthen the second edition of his well-received Cyclopædia, which relied on previously published information. In Textual Curation, Krista Kennedy examines the editing and production histories of the Cyclopædia and Wikipedia, the ramifications of robot-written texts, and the issues of intellectual property theory and credit. Kennedy also documents the evolution of both encyclopedias as well as the participation of central players in discussions about the influence of technology and collaboration in early modern and contemporary culture.
Through this comparative study, based on extensive archival research and data-driven analysis, Kennedy illuminates the deeply situated nature of authorship, which is dependent on cultural approval and stable funding sources as much as it is on original genius and the ownership of intellectual property. Kennedy's work significantly revises long-held notions of authorial agency and autonomy, establishing the continuity of new writing projects such as wikis with longstanding authorial practices that she calls textual curation.
This study examines a wide range of texts that recompose accepted knowledge into reliable, complex reference works combining contributions of article text alongside less commonly considered elements such as metadata vocabularies, cross-indexing, and the development of print and digital interfaces. Comparison of analog and networked texts also lays bare the impact of technological developments, both in the composing process and in the topics that can practically be included in such a text. By examining the human and technological curators that support these encyclopedias as well as the discourses that surround them, Kennedy develops textual curation as a longstanding theory and process that offers a nuanced construction of authorship.
Karen Cook Bell
An exploration of the political and social experiences of African Americans in transition from enslaved to citizen
Claiming Freedom is a noteworthy and dynamic analysis of the transition African Americans experienced as they emerged from Civil War slavery, struggled through emancipation, and then forged on to become landowners during the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction period in the Georgia lowcountry. Karen Cook Bell's work is a bold study of the political and social strife of these individuals as they strived for and claimed freedom during the nineteenth century.
Bell begins by examining the meaning of freedom through the delineation of acts of self-emancipation prior to the Civil War. Consistent with the autonomy that they experienced as slaves, the emancipated African Americans from the rice region understood citizenship and rights in economic terms and sought them not simply as individuals for the sake of individualism, but as a community for the sake of a shared destiny. Bell also examines the role of women and gender issues, topics she believes are understudied but essential to understanding all facets of the emancipation experience. It is well established that women were intricately involved in rice production, a culture steeped in African traditions, but the influence that culture had on their autonomy within the community has yet to be determined.
A former archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration, Bell has wielded her expertise in correlating federal, state, and local records to expand the story of the all-black town of 1898 Burroughs, Georgia, into one that holds true for all the American South. By humanizing the African American experience, Bell demonstrates how men and women leveraged their community networks with resources that enabled them to purchase land and establish a social, political, and economic foundation in the rural and urban post-war era.
A study of early transatlantic trade in South Carolina that exposes the divisive complexity that led to war
London's "Carolina traders," a little-known group of transatlantic merchants, played a pivotal but historically neglected role in the rise of tensions in the South Carolina lowcountry. In Trade, Politics, and Revolution, Huw David delves into the lives of these men and explores their influence on commerce and politics in the years before and after the American Revolution.
Beginning in the 1730s, a few select merchants in Charleston fueled South Carolina's economic rise, used their political connections to prosper in British-Carolinian trade, and then relocated to London, becoming absentee owners of property, plantations, and slaves. Using correspondence, business and slave trade records, newspapers, and a wealth of other sources, David reconstructs the lives of these Carolina traders and demonstrates their shifting but instrumental influence over the course of the eighteenth century. Until the 1760s these transatlantic traders served as a stabilizing force, using their wealth and political connections to lobby for colonial interests. As the British Empire flexed its power and incited rebellion with laws such as the so-called Intolerable Acts, South Carolinians became suspicious of the traders, believing them to be instruments of imperial oppression.
Trade, Politics, and Revolution offers a fresh understanding of trade in South Carolina's early history and the shifting climate that led to the American Revolution, as well as reaching beyond the war to explore the reconstruction of trade routes between the newly founded United States and Great Britain. By focusing on one segment of transatlantic trade, David provides a new interpretive approach to imperialism and exposes the complex, deeply personal rift that divided the Carolina traders from their homeland and broke the colonies from the mother country
Derek C. Maus
A critical analysis of Percival Everett's oeuvre through the lens of Menippean satire
Percival Everett, a distinguished professor of English at the University of Southern California, is the author of more than thirty books on a wide variety of subjects and genres. Among his many honors are the American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, the Huston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction, the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, and the Dos Passos Prize in Literature.
Derek C. Maus proposes that the best way to analyze Everett's varied oeuvre is within the framework of Menippean satire, which focuses its ridicule on faulty modes of thinking, especially the kinds of willful ignorance and bad faith that are used to justify corruption, violence, and bigotry. In Jesting in Earnest, Maus critically examines fourteen of Everett's novels and several of his shorter works through the lens of Menippean satire, focusing on how it supports Everett's broader aim of stimulating thoughtful interpretation that is unfettered by common assumptions and preconceived notions.
Romantic letters are central to understanding same-sex romantic relationships from the past, with debates about so-called romantic friendship turning on conflicting interpretations of letters. Too often, however, these letters are treated simply as unstudied expressions of heartfelt feeling. In Queering Romantic Engagement in the Postal Age: A Rhetorical Education, Pamela VanHaitsma nuances such approaches to reading letters, showing how the genre should be understood instead as a learned form of epistolary rhetoric.
Through archival study of instruction in the romantic letter genre, VanHaitsma challenges the normative scholarly focus on rhetorical education as preparing citizen subjects for civic engagement. She theorizes a new concept of rhetorical education for romantic engagement—defined as instruction in language practices for composing romantic relations—to prompt histories that account for the significant yet unrealized role that rhetorical training plays in inventing both civic and romantic life.
VanHaitsma's history of epistolary instruction in the nineteenth-century United States is grounded in examining popular manuals that taught the romantic letter genre; romantic correspondence of Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus, both freeborn African American women; and multigenre epistolary rhetoric by Yale student Albert Dodd. These case studies span rhetors who are diverse by gender, race, class, and educational background but who all developed creative ways of queering cultural norms and generic conventions in developing their same-sex romantic relationships. Ultimately, Queering Romantic Engagement in the Postal Age argues that such rhetorical training shaped citizens as romantic subjects in predictably heteronormative ways and simultaneously opened up possibilities for their queer rhetorical practices.
An analysis of Black activist Martin R. Delany's humanist vision for a world where everyone feels validated and empowered
Martin R. Delany (1812–1885) was one of the leading and most influential Black activists and nationalists in American history. His ideas have inspired generations of activists and movements, including Booker T. Washington in the late nineteenth century, Marcus Garvey in the early 1920s, Malcolm X and Black Power in 1960s, and even today's Black Lives Matter. Extant scholarship on Delany has focused largely on his Black nationalist and Pan-Africanist ideas. Tunde Adeleke argues that there is so much more about Delany to appreciate. In the Service of God and Humanity reveals and analyzes Delany's contributions to debates and discourses about strategies for elevating Black people and improving race relations in the nineteenth century.
Adeleke examines Delany's view of Blacks as Americans who deserved the same rights and privileges accorded Whites. While he spent the greater part of his life pursuing racial equality, his vision for America was much broader. Adeleke argues that Delany was a quintessential humanist who envisioned a social order in which everyone, regardless of race, felt validated and empowered.
Through close readings of the discourse of Delany's humanist visions and aspirations, Adeleke illuminates many crucial but undervalued aspects of his thought. He discusses the strategies Delany espoused in his quest to universalize America's most cherished of values—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—and highlights his ideological contributions to the internal struggles to reform America. The breadth and versatility of Delany's thought become more evident when analyzed within the context of his American-centered aspirations. In the Service of God and Humanity reveals a complex man whose ideas straddled many complicated social, political, and cultural spaces, and whose voice continues to speak to America today.
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