“What Feminism?” is an extended reflection upon several generations of readers of Simone de Beauvoir, including those readers the author herself has been, from the early 1960s to the present. Of particular interest are the serious readers of Beauvoir since her death in 1986, as opposed to the many detractors who have worked hard to tarnish Beauvoir's productive influence. Among the many groups of such serious readers there are, for example, the social theorist feminists such as Susan Buck Morss; the postcolonial/transnational feminist philosophers such as Chandra Mohanty; the poststructuralist-inspired feminist writers such as Teresa Brennan; and the queer/trans readers such as Judith Butler. What we learn from them is that, going forward, the important thing is to keep excavating the deep structures of Beauvoir's thought so as to forge new pathways for new generations to address the obviously gendered and more than sobering global crises of the twenty-first century.
Alice A. Jardine
Reading the Self into Girlfriendship
In this article, I explore the practice of reading as a form of social participation in girlhood in digital spaces. Positioning girlhood as the circulation of particular discourses and affects, I consider a set of six self-representative blogs authored by young women on the microblogging platform Tumblr, and the affective and discursive positions they invite through their address to readers. Adapted from a central blog named WhatShouldWeCallMe, these blogs use GIFs (looping, animated images) and captions to articulate feelings and reactions relating to everyday situations that readers, addressed as girlfriends, are expected to recognize and relate to as common experience. I suggest that readers’ aesthetic and social participation in the circulation of these texts is key to the formation of digital publics in which readers come to recognize themselves as girls through calls to common feeling.
Book Review of Brian Boyd, Joseph Carroll, and Jonathan Gottschall, eds. Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010)
Although very few electronic editions with any scholarly pretensions exist today, there is already a dominant idea of what an electronic edition ought to be. The idea is that an electronic edition ought to be an archive. It should offer diplomatic transcriptions of documents, and facsimiles of those documents. And it should avoid many of the things that scholarly editions have traditionally done, particularly the creation of critically-edited texts by means of editorial emendation. On this view, what readers need is access to original sources – to as many of them as possible, and avoiding as much as possible the shaping and selection that editors have traditionally engaged in. Although a lot of archives in the world were created and shaped to make specific points, this kind of archive-edition is not conceived of as doing that: it is instead imagined as a neutral witness.
The article uses performance and life analogies in ten novels for juvenile readers to investigate the young protagonists' quest for identity or orientation. Through their experiences in the theatre and as Shakespeare's colleagues, apprentices, or friends, the young people find out who they are and who they might be or should become. The narratives suggest that, not only as stage-actors but also as life-performers, they relive experiences that can be ascribed also to Shakespeare himself. As seen with their eyes, this Shakespeare is de-bardolatrised and de-mythologised when the life-and-theatre analogies he shares with them are extended to his working methods as a poet and playwright.
Midrashim were first published as printed texts in the sixteenth century, initially in Sephardi communities of the Ottoman Empire and later at the famous Hebrew presses of Venice. Vital evidence about the study of these new books is furnished by a heavily annotated copy of Midrash Rabba (Venice, 1545) in the Bodleian Library. Handwritten marginal and interlinear notes show that it was studied by Jewish scholars of the Ottoman Empire and later by the celebrated orientalist and Church of England clergyman Edward Pococke. These glosses provide unique evidence of the interaction of a Christian scholar with the notes of an earlier Jewish reader in deciphering linguistic obscurities in the midrash and resolving textual errors. They therefore shed new light on how early printed books of midrash were read in the decades following their publication and on the study of rabbinic Bible interpretation in the early modern period.
Keith Reader, Reidar Due and Natascha H. Lancaster
Bernard-Henri Lévy, Le Siècle de Sartre, Paris: Grasset, 2000, 663 pp. 148 FF. ISBN 2- 246-59221-6 Review by Keith Reader
Lendemains: ‘Cinquante ans après Le Deuxième Sexe: Beauvoir en débats’ 24. Jahrgang, 1999, 94. ISBN 3-86057-964-9 Review by Reidar Due
James Giles, ed., French Existentialism; Consciousness, Ethics and Relations with Others, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi, 1999, 219 pp. £19.50 Review by Natascha H. Lancaster
Reitter Paul and Brett Wheeler
Like so much else in Kafka, the motif of reading has been discussed hotly and often—from Walter Benjamin's early essay, through seminal studies by Walter Sokel and Heinz Politzer, to poststructuralist analyses of how Kafka foregrounds the instability of language and verbal communication. In this large body of criticism, we find abundant interest in how, for Kafka, certain problems of understanding have a particularly modern character, e.g., in how they are connected to particularly modern conditions. These include the waning metaphysical authority of traditional texts and, most obviously, the rise of bureaucracies that deal programmatically in obfuscation. But Kafka's works engage substantially with what we might call the topos of reading in a modern—and often urban—setting in other ways as well, in ways that have received only passing treatment from scholars. Newspaper reading, for example, has a prominent role in "The Judgment," Kafka's breakthrough text, yet its significance has gone largely unexamined.
This issue inaugurates a new phase of Sartre Studies International: for the first time, we are publishing articles in French as well as English.
The Great Variety of Readers
David Scott Kastan
Pluralizing has increasingly become a norm of cultural criticism, offering a (literally, if not exclusively) nominal escape from totalization: ‘meanings’ not ‘meaning’; ‘histories’ not ‘history’; and, here, ‘literacies’ not ‘literacy’. The plural forms are neologisms perhaps (as my spell-checker insists), but they are also registers of a discomfort with nouns that imply a singularity of effect belied by the multiple activities and agents that produce it. They mark the scholar’s resistance to monolithic understandings of complex and various cultural phenomena.