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Kay Young

Review of Norman Holland, LITERATURE AND THE BRAIN

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Smadar Shiffman

Hebrew literature has always been inseparable from the national narrative. Public expectations from the writer have been extremely demanding: a writer must carry the national moral beacon. The effects of this demanding role can be easily recognized in current Hebrew literature. Few are those who ignore the call. Authors may opt for one of three alternatives: Alexander Penn's way, Natan Alterman's way, or Joseph Brenner's way. Penn's way entails direct public involvement embedded in literary works. Alterman's way means the separation between the 'public' and the 'private'. Brenner's way is the complex fusion of the 'public' and the 'private'. This last approach seems to have become the dominant one, with contemporary Hebrew literature and the state of the nation upholding and supporting each other.

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Damon Boria

As seen in his enthusiastic praise of John Dos Passos's 1919, Sartre evaluated literary works by how effectively they aim to play a role in fundamental social change. This essay has two goals. One is to show that Sartre's endorsement of committed literature is not undercut if literature fails to play a role in fundamental social change and the other is to show at least some of the ways in which committed literature is successful. Both goals are pursued through a consideration of the literary works of Kurt Vonnegut and Don DeLillo. The former was mentioned briefly but favorably by Sartre in 1971 and the latter, while lacking such direct ties to Sartre, was accused of “sandbox existentialism.” I read both writers as arguments in favor of Sartre's instrumentalist take on literature.

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‘… But Is It Literature?’

Graphic Adaptation in Germany in the Context of High and Popular Culture

Juliane Blank

establishing a connection between classic literature and comics as a medium of popular culture, graphic adaptations contribute to overcoming the borders between ‘high and low’. Recent examples even tend to reflect ironically on the persistence of these borders

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Marie-Ève Thérenty

This article describes the results developed in the recently published La Civilisation du journal, histoire culturelle et littéraire de la presse (ed. Dominique Kalifa, Philippe Régnier, Marie-Ève Thérenty, and Alain Vaillant), a collaboration between historians and literary scholars working together for eight years to write a synthesis about the history of the French press during the nineteenth century. It offers a comprehensive encyclopedia of journalism, the genres and forms of the periodical press, the principal figures of nineteenth-century French journalism, and the modern culture of the press. The article describes the different projects between history and literature that could be developed after this project. This kind of methodology should be extended to the relations between press and literature during the twentieth century, to women's journalism and to the globalization of the media during the nineteenth century. These projects could be developed with the help of the website Médias19.

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Hebrew Literature in the ‘World Republic of Letters’

Translation and Reception, 1918–2018

Yael Halevi-Wise and Madeleine Gottesman

Having recently dusted itself off from a religious domain, Hebrew literature today must rely on translation and international dissemination to reach beyond its five million native speakers. Although Hebrew certainly falls into the category of lesser

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Transfers between Media and Mobility

Automobilism, Early Cinema, and Literature, 1900-1920

Dorit Müller

The essay analyzes the interrelationship between media technologies and the development of mobility based on a concrete historical constellation—the emergence of automobilism and its representation in literature and film between 1900 and 1920. The focus lies on Western European countries and most notably on Italian and German literature as well as British, German, and French films. During that period, the portrayal of the automobile in these countries shows a dominant pattern: due to their speed, cars seem to embody a destructive power per se. This is expressed by numerous violence-related scenarios. However, the accentuation of destructive tendencies cannot only be described as a response to increased risks. Rather, they are a product of media technologies and media-specific aesthetics, too: film, establishing itself as a new media form experimenting with “dynamization“ and destruction; and literature, responding to the new visual media using dynamic language and the demolition of traditional poetic forms. Consequently, the noticeable surge in technology around 1900 created new and different types of mobility in the areas of transportation and media, influencing each other.

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Where Is Southern Literature?

The Practice of Place in a Postsouthern Age

Scott Romine

Of the several stock answers to the perennial question ‘What is southern literature?’, the importance of ‘place’ (or the presence of ‘sense of place’) surely ranks near the top of the list. Immediately we are faced with a paradox: How can any regional literature be distinguished on so ambiguous a basis? Places are, after all, found everywhere and in all literatures, and it is doubtful that even a rigorous poetics could reliably identify a ‘sense of place’ that is distinctively southern. To complicate matters, ‘sense of place’ often seems to imply being located not merely in a distinctive region, but in a distinctive way; the term connotes something that is not just geographically different (a southern variation of a thing that exists elsewhere), but qualitatively different (a thing distinctive to the South). ‘Sense of place’, then, serves as both a description (southern literature has it) and a distinction (southern literature has more of it than other literatures). For my purposes here, it precisely the nebulous content of ‘place’ that makes it so useful as a point of entry into examining how critics have defined and practised southern literature; because of place’s conceptual instability, what stability it does possess can be ascribed almost exclusively to how it has been used. Arguably, the location of ‘place’ is not so much in the South or in southern literature as in the critical discourse about those things.

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Peter Katz

This special issue of Critical Survey explores the reciprocal relationships between Victorian literature and Victorian science – both the representation of science in literature, and the appearance of the literary within scientific discourse. Recent trends in historicism inspire this collection to contextualise Victorian literature and culture through Victorian understandings of bodies. These critics rightfully begin from the assumption that only once we understand Victorian bodies as Victorians might have understood them can we theorise historical bodies as sites integral to the legitimisation of flows of cultural power: capitalism, imperialism, heteronormativity, and beyond.

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John Powell Ward

After three decades the ‘aesthetic’ has crept back into literary studies. It is twelve years since Isobel Armstrong wrote that ‘the abandonment of the concept of literature and the category of the “aesthetic” . . . is possibly one of the greatest mistakes the left has made this decade’, and eleven since Terry Eagleton traced powerful ideas through a galaxy of philosophers of the last two centuries. Peter Brooks’s article ‘Aesthetics and Ideology: What Became of Poetics?’ appeared in 1994.