Literary Criticism

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The Fluidity of the Fantastic: Todorov’s Legacy to Literary Criticism

The Fluidity of the Fantastic: Todorov’s Legacy to Literary Criticism

In the last chapter of the series on the themes of the fantastic, Todorov valiantly at- tempts to draw the all the strands of his argument together and convey to the reader a sense of synthetic unity and pragmatic relevance. The first move is to vindicate the sys- tematic nature of the discussion of themes (the two “thematic complexes” explored are not only different but also incompatible) thus reassuring the reader about the coherence of a rather diffuse discussion. But the most important point in the first part of Chapter 9 is to remind the reader of the commitments entailed by the structural method proposed in Chapter 1. By distinguishing between poetics, whose goal is to identify structures, and interpretation, whose goal is to explore meaning, and restating that The Fantastic falls in the former category rather than the latter, Todorov returns to the postulates he originally enunciated: his approach is less ambitious than the task of interpretation (cannot tell us what the literary texts means) but is more objective and scientific (can tell us how the text is constructed, can identify the underlying matrix that made it possible to produce it). It then becomes clear that for Todorov, a genre is fundamentally “an inventory of options. But a work’s inclusion within a genre still teaches us nothing as to its meaning. It merely permits us to establish the existence of a certain rule by which the work in question – and many other as well – are governed”. 45 This is an extremely useful clarification insofar as it demonstrates that the structural approach is oriented to practice, or in other words to understanding the range of possibilities which a given literary system makes available so that individual manifestations can be seen as dynamic interventions within that system. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to connecting the typology of themes of the fantastic to larger societal issues and predicaments. The discussion moves from con- necting the themes of the self and themes of the other with the Freudian description of psychosis and neurosis respectively. This leads Todorov to engage with psychoana- lytic literary criticism and distance himself from it: in essence Todorov finds Freudian categories useful as long as they enable the literary critic to identify textual structures (e.g., what determines the production of a particular set and sequence of figures in the text), but not useful if they lead the literary critic to attempt a diagnosis of a particular psychological condition (e.g., the author’s). Fair enough, though the insistence that the autonomy of the language of literary analysis must be preserved against the temptation of adopting the languages of other disciplines (such as psychoanalysis) is beginning to
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Typology: Pros and Cons in Biblical Hermeneutics and Literary Criticism (from Leonhard Goppelt to Northrop Frye)

Typology: Pros and Cons in Biblical Hermeneutics and Literary Criticism (from Leonhard Goppelt to Northrop Frye)

The following essay is a survey of various theories of biblical typology (figuralism) in 20th century biblical hermeneutics and literary criticism. The word typology in biblical studies is a relatively modern coinage, it was not used in patristic literature together with tropologia, allegoria or anagogia. Some- times it is used as a synonym with figuralism. More than ten years ago (Fab- iny 1-2), I suggested that typology may refer to at least nine things: (1) a way of reading the Bible; (2) a principle of unity of the “Old” and the “New” Tes- taments in the Christian Bible; (3) a principle of exegesis; (4) a figure of speech; (5) a mode of thought; (6) a form of rhetoric; (7) a vision of history; (8) a principle of artistic composition; (9) a manifestation of “intertextuality”.
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TítuloTo Be or Not To Be (a Man): Is That the Question? Men and/in Feminist Literary Criticism

TítuloTo Be or Not To Be (a Man): Is That the Question? Men and/in Feminist Literary Criticism

indictment of androcentricity that becomes apparent through the dominance of male authors on academic syllabi. One should also try to avoid separatist views on feminist literary criticism because they end up dividing the sexes in such a way that men must either ignore feminism or criticize it. Separatist feminists have argued that men should be discouraged from writing feminist literary criticism for the same reasons that they should be discouraged from teaching in women’s literature courses, since having “the oppressor” talk about his oppression to “the oppressed” is morally inappropriate. However, such a view, as Ruthven (1991: 11-12) has concluded, fails to examine the unquestioned identification of men with oppression. Rather than identify men with a universal and unproblematized conception of patriarchy, female feminist critics should encourage men, as Toril Moi (1989: 184) has argued, to incorporate feminism into everything they do and write. In this way, they would contribute to a transformation of society which would put much current feminist polemic to an end.
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Literary Criticism in the Neoliberal Chile: the Invisibility of the Dissent

Literary Criticism in the Neoliberal Chile: the Invisibility of the Dissent

This article addresses the exercise of literary criticism in Chile in the context of the increasingly complex practices of denial of dissent. The non-acceptance of difference that entraps the Chilean society eliminates the discordances by avoiding discourse diversity. The market, then, turns literary criticism into one more link of a book’s distribution channels and into a component of the advertising campaign. The crisis that literary criticism and our literature are going through represents only a fraction of the cultural catastrophe brought about by the commercialization of reality as a whole. We are now witnessing a privatization of critical thinking and, consequently, a neutralization of subjectivities; I therefore maintain how urgent it is to, from the reduced territory of subjectivity, vindicate criticism as an act of cultural resistance.
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Strategies for a Cross Cultural Ecofeminist Literary Criticism

Strategies for a Cross Cultural Ecofeminist Literary Criticism

As a western ecofeminist reading Chinese and Taiwanese women’s contemporary literature, I had to acknowledge the near-impossibility of becoming fully literate in the multiple contexts within which these texts have been produced—contexts that are simultaneously gendered, literary, historical, cultural, ecological, economic, and sexual. As a cultural outsider, I can point out some (but not all) of the themes that signal the transitions powered by “globalization from above” (Appadurai), or the influence of U.S. culture and economies on Asian literary contexts. I can shape questions about the meaning of the literary themes I observe, and their implications for social and environmental justice, but my answers may only be as reliable as my own partial knowledge about the multiple contexts in which these characters and stories develop. At the same time, I can explore the uses of cross-cultural feminism, highlighting women’s oppression based on narratives of women who are cultural “insiders,” and through literary criticism, build theoretical frameworks for feminist solidarity, effectively “globalizing-from-below.” With other feminists working on issues of global feminism, I can challenge narratives that would legitimate women’s oppression on the basis of cultural traditions.
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TítuloThe Sex or the Death of the Author? Rethinking the Relevance of “Maleness” to (Feminist) Literature and Literary Criticism

TítuloThe Sex or the Death of the Author? Rethinking the Relevance of “Maleness” to (Feminist) Literature and Literary Criticism

The relevance/irrelevance of the sex of the author to textual analysis remains one of the most controversial debates within contemporary literary theory, in general, and feminist literary criticism, in particular. On the one hand, the relevance of knowledge about the author to knowledge about the text has been diminished repeatedly in the twentieth century by formalist, Marxist, and poststructuralist scholarship. On the other hand, other (feminist) scholars have insisted that the sex of the author cannot be ignored, as it helps account for the text’s content and/or style. After presenting the two sides of the argument, the paper highlights some of the dangers of “de-gendering” literature, showing the relevance of the sex of the author to textual criticism. Nevertheless, it argues that it is neither possible nor desirable to lump all (male) writers into one single category, as male fiction is far from static and monolithic, constituting a varied, changing, complex and often contradictory (fictional) gender construct. The paper thus concludes underlining the feminist potential of a number of male-authored texts, ranging from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa to Henry James’s The Bostonians, among others.
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Leer ficción es bueno para el desarrollo cognitivo, emocional y social

Leer ficción es bueno para el desarrollo cognitivo, emocional y social

But first a brief introduction to cognitive criticism, for those of you who are not familiar with it. Cognitive literary criticism, also called cognitive poetics and cognitive narratology, is a direction within literary studies that examines how texts of fiction engage readers cognitively and emotionally; that is, very simplified, why we care about reading fiction although we know that it is - fiction, pretence, fancy, fabulation, a product of an author’s imagination. This issue is reflected in book and article titles such as ”How Can We Be Moved by the Fate of Anna Karenina?”, Why We Read Fiction, “How and What We Can Learn from Fiction”, Why Do We Care About Literary Characters and What Literature Teaches Us about Emotions. Cognitive criticism builds on cognitive psychology, cognitive linguistics and brain research; it is a crossdisciplinary area within which literary scholars are inspired by cognitive and affective psychology, while psychologists turn to fiction as a vast and easily available data. Cognitive criticism offers an innova- tive approach to reading, literacy and literature that suggests re-thinking the literary activity as such, including interaction between readers and works of literature, but also the ways literary texts are constructed to maximise, or perhaps rather optimise reader engagement. In his overview of the field, Peter Stockwell describes cognitive narratol- ogy as “a way of thinking about literature”. Thus understood, cognitive criticism does not deal with projected readers exclusively, but also with (implied) authors’ strategies in text construction, as well as with artistic representation, including referentiality – the relationship between representation and its referent in the perceptible world. Cognitive criticism also deals with the means through which various kinds of human knowledge, from factual knowledge to emotions to ideology, can be expressed through artistic lan- guage.
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Re-Reading “Greenes Groatsworth of Wit”

Re-Reading “Greenes Groatsworth of Wit”

This essay focuses on the alleged attack by Robert Greene on Shakespeare as an “upstart crow,” a work reprinted in almost every collection of Shakespeare’s works, and a document that has produced its own body of scholarly assessment. Employing recent textual criticism of the print industry in early modern England —including works by Zachary Lesser, John Jowett, Jeffery Masten, and D. Allen Carroll— we re-read “Green’s Groatsworth of Wit” as a kind of literary criticism that helps to illuminate both its own textual status as well as the material conditions of the late sixteenth-century theatrical world which produced it. Following a review of the basic lines of interpretation of the piece, I examine the nexus of the Henry Chettle, Robert Danter and Greene connection, in an attempt to show that by considering the “collaboration” between these three, we should come to a better understanding of the document itself. Equally important, by re-examining the text, reviewing the printing process, and rethinking the authorial voice of the work, I hope to re-situate the pamphlet’s place in the present debate on Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
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Literary landscapes and the national imaginary   Introduction

Literary landscapes and the national imaginary Introduction

The image of a rickety wooden fence that opens from an old road to a path leading into a banana plantation just past a towering, fragrant apple tree in full blossom corresponds to a real place that no longer exists, but lives transformed in a personal landscape sentimentally associated with my happy, rural childhood. An orchard, a terrace cultivated with potatoes, and a cornfield are not only places of work, but also icons of a way of life in the history of a particular family or a whole region. Other locations have gone one step further by becoming famous landscapes through their literary representations, for literature has always contributed to piquing its readers’ curiosity about these inspiring places.
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Ecocriticism, Cultural Ecology, and Literary Studies

Ecocriticism, Cultural Ecology, and Literary Studies

In taking up such cues, as I have tried to show in my book Literatur als kulturelle Ökologie (Literature as Cultural Ecology), literature can itself be described as the symbolic medium of a particularly powerful form of “cultural ecology.” Literary texts have staged and explored, in ever new scenarios, the complex feedback relationship of prevailing cultural systems with the needs and manifestations of human and nonhuman “nature,” and from this paradoxical act of creative regression have derived their specific power of innovation and cultural self-renewal. Literature draws its cognitive and creative potential from a threefold dynamic in its relationship to the larger cultural system – as a cultural-critical metadiscourse, an imaginative counterdiscourse, and a reintegrative interdiscourse. It is a textual form which breaks up ossified social structures and ideologies, symbolically empowers the marginalized, and reconnects what is culturally separated. In that way, literature counteracts economic, political or pragmatic forms of interpreting and instrumentalizing human life, and breaks up one-dimensional views of the world and the self, opening them up towards their repressed or excluded other.
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A Hermeneutic Model for Comparative Literary History

A Hermeneutic Model for Comparative Literary History

The historical record as a constituted rendering of the past, in our case the literary past, has come under close scrutiny in the wake of post-structural and postcolonial critiques that point to discontinuities, gaps, ruptures and, above all, exclusions rather than linear development, evolution or continuity. In short, today, the very task of the historian has to be rethought. In White’s words: «a specifically historical inquiry is born less of the necessity to establish that certain events occurred than of the desire to determine what certain events might mean for a given group, society or culture’s conception of its present tasks and future prospects» (1986, 487). This shift from validation to signification has also created an impetus to reconceptualize the literary historical process to include the relations between texts and the contexts of production and of reception. The key question of historiography is also the question of literary history: How did a given phenomenon enter the system entitled history? The historian, of course, names and constitutes an assemblage of data as an event by selection and narrative positioning. And this constitution of the past is carried out by historians who are as situated in the particularities of time, place, language and gender as were the people who first produced the works being considered. It is in this sense that we recall Nietzsche’s words: you can explain the past only by what is most powerful in the present. This observation must not be construed as anti-historical, quite the opposite purpose will emerge: the writing of hermeneutic history.
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Performance Criticism como propuesta hermenéutica del Nuevo Testamento

Performance Criticism como propuesta hermenéutica del Nuevo Testamento

La llamada Performance Criticism está en pleno crecimiento hoy en día en los círculos neotestamentarios. Sus planteamientos se basan en estudios de oralidad y reclaman la ne- cesidad de recuperar la naturaleza original de los textos bíblicos representados o actuados como herramienta hermenéutica. Sin embargo, esta corriente tiene significativas lagunas en sus presuposiciones y algunos errores conceptuales importantes que plantean serios desafíos a la hora de usarla como un método válido de interpretación bíblica.

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Ecozon@ with love

Ecozon@ with love

It's good to hear from you, and thanks for the reminder about Ecozon@. I have been contemplating what I might write that responds to your stated topics. To be honest, I find myself without anything important to say about the field. I have spent the last twelve years working on regional literature, editing a comprehensive anthology of Nevada literature (831 pages) and giving many public lectures around the region to educate people about Nevada's surprisingly rich literary tradition. (I do this so that people who live in Nevada--so many of them newcomers to the state--will, through story, more strongly identify with this place as home--and, hopefully, take care of it.) So I'm afraid that I'm not positioned well these days to speak broadly about directions of the field in general. If I get an inspiration, I will let you know, but, honestly, my attention has been so focused on the micro that I don't think I have anything worthwhile to write about the macro. Thanks very much for the honor of the invitation though, and best wishes with the journal!
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The stylization of prose tales in Uzbek children’s literature

The stylization of prose tales in Uzbek children’s literature

Literary fairy tales are an important tool in polishing folk tales and passing them on to future generations. The plot uses some traditional motives and images. The motifs of the folk tale are found in the literary fairy tales. In this respect, the folk tale and the literary fairy tale are alike. Although these fairy tales are similar in content, they still live as independent literary and oral events, characterized by the presence of author’s perceptions and the product of individual creation. It is well known that at the beginning of folk tales a special place is given to the description of epic space. It is often stated that the epic space is a vague region. Likewise, in the literary fairy tales, the region where the event takes place is not always open. For example, if Rauf Talib’s fairy tale starts with, “Once there, there was one Ola Hakka living in the woods”, Tursunboy Gayipov’s fairy tale, “There, not in heaven, on earth, but on earth.” There is a farmer in the distant part of the village called Goduddi Father. ‘ Hence, the place was kept secret. It can be said sometimes. For example, T. Goyipov’s “Gift of the Thousand” clearly illustrates the place where the story is told, “In ancient times, on the side of Margilan.”
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Slovak Translators and Interpreters' Associations

Slovak Translators and Interpreters' Associations

Translation and Interpretation are permanent members of SSPOL. At the present time it has a membership of about 350 translators and interpreters, who translate and interpret from 25 languages. The Society is a constituent part of the Association of the Slovak Translation and Interpreting Organisations – APTOS unifying, apart from SSPOL, also the Slovak Society of Literary Translators – SSPUL and the Union of Translators and Interpreters – JTP, existing both in the Czech and in the Slovak Republic.

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Althusser – Essays in Self Criticism

Althusser – Essays in Self Criticism

The dramatic history of Marx and of his thought can be reduced, if we follow John Lewis, to a peaceful and problem-free university career! A certain Marx appears on the literary and philosophical scene. Quite naturally, he begins to talk about politics in the Communist Manifesto, then about economics in Capital. He founds and directs the First International, opposes the insurrection in Paris, then in the space of two months, takes a firm stand on the side of the Paris Commune. He wages a battle to the death against the anarchists and followers of Proudhon, etc., etc. All this without the hint of a problem, of a drama, aside from all the assaults of the struggle, with no regard to the difficulties, the questions, all the torments of the search for "truth" in that struggle itself. Like a good bourgeois intellectual, as well installed in his thought as he is in the comfort of his existence, Marx, in this view, always thought the same thing, without any revolution or "break" in his thinking: he always taught that "man makes history", by the "negation of the negation", etc. I think I am justified in saying here that only someone who has no experience of the class struggle, including class struggle in the field of theory -- or even simply of the way in which scientific research is done -- could argue such nonsense, and thus insult the life and sufferings not only of Marx himself but of all Communists (and also of all those scientists who succeed in finding something out ). Now, not only did Marx "find something out" (and at what risk, and of what importance!), but he was also a leader of the labour movement for thirty-five years. He always did his thinking and his "investigating" in and through the struggle.
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I.I. Hemnitser and German literature

I.I. Hemnitser and German literature

Objectives: In the last decades such marginal phenomenon as works of Russian authors written in European, languages attract considerable interest of researchers. After Yu.M. Lotman, E.P. Grechanaya's, works devoted to Russian Literature in French, there was a number of researches of German-language works of such Russian writers as V.A. Zhukovsky, A.K. Tolstoy, K.K. Pavlova, E.I. Guber, E.B. Kulman, etc. In this article the task to reveal features of works of the Russian poet I.I. Hemnitser (1745–1784) is set in the context of Russian-German literary and historical and cultural communications of the last third of the 18th century. Methods: Poems in German written by I.I. Hemnitser, his fables created under the influence of Christian Fyurkhtegott Gellert's creative works became the material for the analysis. Comparative- historical and comparative and typological methods and also complex analysis were used in the work. Findings: The detailed analysis of ideological and thematic contents of works in German of the Russian poet is carried out. The specific features of I.I. Hemnitser’s creative manner are established. Special attention is paid to a question of interpretation of fable, epigrammatic and lyrical works of the poet in aspect of international literary relations and historical and literary traditions. Novelty: The revealed features of I.I. Hemnitser’s works in German allow to say that during an era of the increased influence on the Russian society of the French literature and French (a century of Catherine II) I.I. Hemnitser was one of the few Russian writers in the works of whom Russian-German literary and historical and cultural interaction was systemically presented. His fables became transfers, free translations of Ch.-F. Gellert’s works.
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TítuloA Semiotic Approach to Literary Translation Criticism

TítuloA Semiotic Approach to Literary Translation Criticism

With Spivak’s «World, Language and Consciousness» relation as its start point as well as theoretical backup, the essay argues literary translation criticism is approached from a 3-dimensional model, though conceptual and receptual aspects are highlighted. It however does not intend to deny the textual perspective. On the contrary, the interaction of the three interrelated dimensions is the very point the present essay is based upon. The essay holds that translation, though a concrete transfer of linguistic signs, is concurrently manipulated by the socio-cultural context and the receptiblity to target readers. And translation criticism should rule out judging a translation solely on the basis of its linguistics faults. A borromean knot of contextual, receptual and textual dimensions should be taken into consideration, which deems it necessary to build up a multi-dimensional model for literary translation criticism.
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Is there Feminism in Gilead?: Feminist Analysis of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Is there Feminism in Gilead?: Feminist Analysis of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

According to Ketterer (209), The Handmaid’s Tale is “the best and most successful SF novel written by a Canadian”. There has been some disagreement as to whether this is actually a science fiction novel. For Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale is speculative fiction which she differentiates from science fiction in the fact that a speculative novel “employs the means already more or less to hand, and takes place on Planet Earth” (2004; 513). Anyway, she accepts that some scholars follow different distinctions. She provides the arguments for this idea in her essay “The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake in Context” where she describes the background and places each novel within its own genre. Another proposal regarding its literary genre is Hammer’s. She believes that the novel is, in fact, a satire. In her essay “The world as it will be? Female Satire and the Technology of Power in The Handmaid’s Tale” she argues about this. She believes the novel is a satire which is a “genre dominated by men” (39). She sees it as the female appropriation of a generally male genre, going on to argue that it should be considered and analyzed from a specific point of view that considers women, not only from the tradition of male-written texts (46).
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Review. Regina Dalcastagnè, Representación y resistencia en la literatura brasileña contemporánea. Trad. Lucía Tennina y Adrián Dubinsky. Buenos Aires: Editorial Bilbos, 2015.

Review. Regina Dalcastagnè, Representación y resistencia en la literatura brasileña contemporánea. Trad. Lucía Tennina y Adrián Dubinsky. Buenos Aires: Editorial Bilbos, 2015.

To narrow the scope of this work’s general framing of literature and society, Representación y resistencia limits its analysis to contemporary Brazilian literature—defined by Dalcastagnè as novels published within the last 50 years (1965-2015). Within this limited time frame, this scholarly work undertakes a detailed qualitative analysis of exemplary pieces of contemporary Brazilian literature and an equally exhaustive quantitative analysis of all Brazilian literature published by the nation’s three main publishing houses. This combined methodological approach, rarely seen in literary criticism, complements the book’s central inquiries in two ways. Initially, it provides a statistical overview of whom Brazilian contemporary literature includes and excludes from its pages. Complementarily, Dalcastagnè’s close-textual analysis examines the specific ways in which these (non-)existent literary representations may challenge the homogenous representations that dominate Brazilian literature and/or reinforce literature’s inequalities and hierarchies of representation. Thus, while Dalcastagnè offers an impressive big-N study of who writes, narrates, and holds the protagonist role in mainstream Brazilian literature, she perhaps more importantly sets the stage for the book’s profound discussion of what it means to be represented and how literature and other artistic mediums forced to operate within an imperfect system may ethically and effectively challenge Brazil’s erasure of marginalized bodies.
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