• Poetry by individual poets
      December 2018


      A Critical Edition

      by Pound, Ezra

      Ezra Pound’s Cathay (1915) is a masterpiece of modernism, but also one of world literature. The muscular precision of images that mark Pound’s translations helped established a modern style for American literature, at the same time creating a thirst for classical Chinese poetry in English. Yet Pound wrote it without knowing any Chinese, relying instead on word-for-word “cribs” left by the Orientalist Ernest Fenollosa, whose notebooks reveal a remarkable story of sustained cultural exchange. This fully annotated critical edition focuses on Pound’s astonishing translations without forgetting that the original Chinese and Old English poems are masterpieces in their own right. By placing Pound’s final text alongside the poems it claims to translate, as well as the manuscript traces of Pound’s Japanese and American interlocutors, the volume resituates Cathay as a classic of world literature. The Pound texts and their intertexts are presented with care, clarity, and visual elegance. In addition to the Chinese poems of Cathay, the volume also includes that volume’s additional poem, Pound’s famous translation of “The Seafarer” from Anglo-Saxon, as well as fifteen further Pound translations from Chinese and his essay “Chinese Poetry.” A substantial textual Introduction elaborates the texts’ histories, and substantial prefatory pieces by Bush and Saussy discuss international modernism, the mediation of Japan, and translation. Finally, the edition supplies exhaustive historical, critical, and textual notes, clarifying points that have sometimes lent obscurity to Pound’s poems and making the process of translation visible even for readers with no knowledge of Chinese. This landmark edition will forever change how readers view Pound’s “Chinese” poems. In addition to discoveries that permanently alter the scholarly record, the critical apparatus allows fresh discoveries by making available the specific networks through which poetic expression moved among hands, languages, and media in a multiply authored and intrinsically hybrid masterpiece.

    • Literary studies: classical, early & medieval
      December 2018

      Ecstasy in the Classroom

      Trance, Self, and the Academic Profession in Medieval Paris

      by Even-Ezra, Ayelet

      Can ecstatic experiences be studied with the academic instruments of rational investigation? What kinds of religious illumination are experienced by academically minded people? And what is the specific nature of the knowledge of God that university theologians of the Middle Ages enjoyed compared with other modes of knowing God, such as rapture, prophecy, the beatific vision, or simple faith? Ecstasy in the Classroom explores the interface between academic theology and ecstatic experience in the first half of the thirteenth century, formative years in the history of the University of Paris, medieval Europe’s “fountain of knowledge.” It considers little-known texts by William of Auxerre, Philip the Chancellor, William of Auvergne, Alexander of Hales, and other theologians of this community, thus creating a group portrait of a scholarly discourse. It seeks to do three things. The first is to map and analyze the scholastic discourse about rapture and other modes of cognition in the first half of the thirteenth century. The second is to explicate the perception of the self that these modes imply: the possibility of transformation and the complex structure of the soul and its habits. The third is to read these discussions as a window on the predicaments of a newborn community of medieval professionals and thereby elucidate foundational tensions in the emergent academic culture and its social and cultural context. Juxtaposing scholastic questions with scenes of contemporary courtly romances and reading Aristotle’s Analytics alongside hagiographical anecdotes, Ecstasy in the Classroom challenges the often rigid historiographical boundaries between scholastic thought and its institutional and cultural context.

    • Literary theory
      October 2018

      Literature and the Remains of the Death Penalty

      by Kamuf, Peggy

      Jacques Derrida has written that “the modern history of the institution named literature in Europe over the last three or four centuries is contemporary with and indissociable from a contestation of the death penalty.” How, Kamuf asks, does literature contest the death penalty today, particularly in the United States, where it remains the last of its kind in a nation that professes to be a democracy? What resources do fiction, narrative, and poetic language supply in the age of the remains of the death penalty? Following a lucid account of Derrida’s approach to the death penalty, Kamuf pursues these questions across literary texts by George Orwell, Robert Coover, Norman Mailer, Franz Kafka, and Charles Baudelaire. The readings address a range of questions that haunt the death penalty: the “mysteries” of witness; secrecy and public display; the undecidable relation of capital punishment and suicide; the sovereign powers of death and of pardon; and ways performative literary language can “play the law.” In relation to the death penalties they represent, these literary survivals may be seen as the ashes or remains of the phantasm that the death penalty has always been, the phantasm of calculating and ending finitude. A major contribution to the field of law and society, this book makes the case for literature as a space for contesting the death penalty, a case that scholars and activists working across a range of traditions will need to confront.

    • Literature: history & criticism
      March 2019


      Extraction in the Humanist Anthropocene

      by Phillip John Usher

      Takes up a vibrant conversation in the environmental humanities, while shifting our emphasis from emissions to extraction as the source of ecological problems.

    • Literary theory
      March 2019

      The Tongue-Tied Imagination

      Decolonizing Literary Modernity in Senegal

      by Tobias Warner

      To readers interested in the world literature debate, the book opens new directions by investigating how the emergence of literary modernity is entangled with other textualities.

    • Literature: history & criticism
      January 2020


      Reading as Misreading

      by Erin Graff Zivin

      A clear and well-written account of complex theoretical material.

    • Literature: history & criticism
      January 2020

      Decadent Orientalisms

      The Decay of Colonial Modernity

      by David Fieni

      The book presents a compelling account of the fraught relationship between Muslims, Arabs, and Jews as objects of Semitism and anti-Semitism.

    • Literature: history & criticism
      December 2019

      The Literary Qur'an

      Narrative Ethics in the Maghreb

      by Hoda El Shakry

      The Literary Qurʾan deprovincializes Maghrebi literary studies.

    • Literature: history & criticism
      December 2019

      Radical Botany

      Plants and Speculative Fiction

      by Natania Meeker, Antónia Szabari

      It explores the centrality of plants and their mode of life to western modernity.

    • Literature: history & criticism
      December 2019

      The Disposition of Nature

      Environmental Crisis and World Literature

      by Jennifer Wenzel

      Engages "new materialist" questions of more-than-human agency without losing sight of "old materialist" questions of class, race, exploitation, and inequality.

    • Literature: history & criticism
      June 2020

      Noir Affect

      by Christopher Breu, Elizabeth A. Hatmaker, Justus Nieland, Kirin Watcher-Grene, Ignacio Sanchez Prado, Sean Grattan, Peter Hitchcock, Brian Rejack, Pamela Thoma, Alexander Dunst, Andrew Pepper, Paula Rabinowitz

      Traces noir’s negativity as it manifests in different national contexts from the U.S. to Mexico, France and Japan and across a range of different media (films, novels, video games, and manga.)

    • Literary theory
      October 2018

      Mapping Memory

      Visuality, Affect, and Embodied Politics in the Americas

      by Murphy, Kaitlin M.

      In Mapping Memory, Kaitlin M. Murphy investigates the use of memory as a means of contemporary sociopolitical intervention. Mapping Memory focuses specifically on visual case studies, including documentary film, photography, performance, new media, and physical places of memory, from sites ranging from the Southern Cone to Central America and the U.S.–Mexican borderlands. Murphy develops new frameworks for analyzing how visual culture performs as an embodied agent of memory and witnessing, arguing that visuality is inherently performative. By analyzing the performative elements, or strategies, of visual texts—such as embodiment, reenactment, haunting, and the performance of material objects and places Murphy elucidates how memory is both anchored in and extracted from specific bodies, objects, and places. Drawing together diverse theoretical strands, Murphy originates the theory of “memory mapping”, which tends to the ways in which memory is strategically deployed in order to challenge official narratives that often neglect or designate as transgressive certain memories or experiences. Ultimately, Murphy argues, memory mapping is a visual strategy to ask, and to challenge, why certain lives are rendered visible and thus grievable and others not.

    • Literature: history & criticism
      November 2017

      Racial Worldmaking

      The Power of Popular Fiction

      by Jerng, Mark C.

      When does racial description become racism? Critical race studies has not come up with good answers to this question because it has overemphasized the visuality of race. According to dominant theories of racial formation, we see race on bodies and persons and then link those perceptions to unjust practices of racial inequality. Racial Worldmaking argues that we do not just see race. We are taught when, where, and how to notice race by a set of narrative and interpretive strategies. These strategies are named “racial worldmaking” because they get us to notice race not just at the level of the biological representation of bodies or the social categorization of persons. Rather, they get us to embed race into our expectations for how the world operates. As Mark C. Jerng shows us, these strategies find their most powerful expression in popular genre fiction: science fiction, romance, and fantasy. Taking up the work of H.G. Wells, Margaret Mitchell, Samuel Delany, Philip K. Dick and others, Racial Worldmaking rethinks racial formation in relation to both African American and Asian American studies, as well as how scholars have addressed the relationships between literary representation and racial ideology. In doing so, it engages questions central to our current moment: In what ways do we participate in racist worlds, and how can we imagine and build one that is anti-racist?

    • Literary essays
      December 1995

      A Reformation Debate

      John Calvin & Jacopo Sadoleto

      by John C. Olin

    • Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900

      An Atmospherics of the City

      Baudelaire and the Poetics of Noise

      by Ross Chambers

      What happens to poetic beauty when history turns the poet from one who contemplates natural beauty and the sublime to one who attempts to reconcile the practice of art with the hustle and noise of the city? An Atmospherics of the City traces Charles Baudelaire’s evolution from a writer who practices a form of fetishizing aesthetics in which poetry works to beautify the ordinary to one who perceives background noise and disorder—the city’s version of a transcendent atmosphere—as evidence of the malign work of a transcendent god of time, history, and ultimate destruction. Analyzing this shift, particularly as evidenced in Tableaux parisiens and Le Spleen de Paris, Ross Chambers shows how Baudelaire’s disenchantment with the politics of his day and the coincident rise of overpopulation, poverty, and Haussmann’s modernization of Paris influenced the poet’s work to conceive a poetry of allegory, one with the power to alert and disalienate its otherwise inattentive reader whose senses have long been dulled by the din of his environment. Providing a completely new and original understanding of both Baudelaire’s ethics and his aesthetics, Chambers reveals how the shift from themes of the supernatural in Baudelaire to ones of alienation allowed a new way for him to articulate and for his fellow Parisians to comprehend the rapidly changing conditions of the city and, in the process, to invent a “modern beauty” from the realm of suffering and the abject as they embodied forms of urban experience.

    • Literature: history & criticism

      In Dante's Wake

      Reading from Medieval to Modern in the Augustinian Tradition

      by John Freccero, Edited by Danielle Callegari, and Melissa Swain

      Waking to find himself shipwrecked on a strange shore before a dark wood, the pilgrim of the Divine Comedy realizes he must set his sights higher and guide his ship to a radically different port. Starting on the sand of that very shore with Dante, John Freccero begins retracing the famous voyage recounted by the poet nearly 700 years ago. Freccero follows pilgrim and poet through the Comedy and then beyond, inviting readers both uninitiated and accomplished to join him in navigating this complex medieval masterpiece and its influence on later literature. Perfectly impenetrable in its poetry and unabashedly ambitious in its content, the Divine Comedy is the cosmos collapsed on itself, heavy with dense matter and impossible to expand. Yet Dante’s great triumph is seen in the tiny, subtle fragments that make up the seamless whole, pieces that the poet painstakingly sewed together to form a work that insinuates itself into the reader and inspires the work of the next author. Freccero magnifies the most infinitesimal elements of that intricate construction to identify self-similar parts, revealing the full breadth of the great poem. Using this same technique, Freccero then turns to later giants of literature— Petrarch, Machiavelli, Donne, Joyce, and Svevo—demonstrating how these authors absorbed these smallest parts and reproduced Dante in their own work. In the process, he confronts questions of faith, friendship, gender, politics, poetry, and sexuality, so that traveling with Freccero, the reader will both cross unknown territory and reimagine familiar faces, swimming always in Dante’s wake.

    • Literature: history & criticism

      Persistent Forms

      Explorations in Historical Poetics

      by Edited by Ilya Kliger, and Boris Maslov, Foreword by Eric Hayot

      Since the mid-1980s, attempts to think history and literature together have produced much exciting work in the humanities. Indeed, some form of historicism can be said to inform most of the current scholarship in literary studies, including work in poetics, yet much of this scholarship remains undertheorized. Envisioning a revitalized and more expansive historicism, this volume builds on the tradition of Historical Poetics, pioneered by Alexander Veselovsky (1838–1906) and developed in various fruitful directions by the Russian Formalists, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Olga Freidenberg. The volume includes previously untranslated texts of some of the major scholars in this critical tradition, as well as original contributions which place that tradition in dialogue with other thinkers who have approached literature in a globally comparatist and evolutionary-historical spirit. The contributors seek to challenge and complement a historicism that stresses proximate sociopolitical contexts through an engagement with the longue durée of literary forms and institutions. In particular, Historical Poetics aims to uncover deep-historical stratifications and asynchronicities, in which formal solutions may display elective affinities with other, chronologically distant solutions to analogous social and political problems. By recovering the traditional nexus of philology and history, Persistent Forms seeks to reinvigorate poetics as a theoretical discipline that would respond to such critical and intellectual developments as Marxism, New Historicism, the study of world literature, practices of distant reading, and a renewed attention to ritual, oral poetics, and genre.

    • Literary theory
      March 2016

      The Work of Difference

      Modernism, Romanticism, and the Production of Literary Form

      by Audrey Wasser

      The Work of Difference addresses a fundamental ontological question: What is literature? And at the heart of this question, it argues, is the problem of the new. How is it that new works or new forms are possible within the rule-governed orders of history, language use, or the social? How are new works in turn recognizable to already-existing institutions? Tracing the relationship between literature and the problem of newness back to a set of concerns first articulated in early German romanticism, this book goes on to mount a critique of romantic tendencies in contemporary criticism in order, ultimately, to develop an original theory of literary production. Along the way, it offers new readings of major modernist novels by Samuel Beckett, Marcel Proust, and Gertrude Stein._x000B_

    • Literature: history & criticism

      Who Can Afford to Improvise?

      James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners

      by Ed Pavli

      When Ivory Towers Were Black tells the story of how an unparalleled cohort of ethnic minority students earned degrees from a world-class university. It takes place in New York City at Columbia University’s School of Architecture and spans a decade of institutional evolution that mirrored the emergence and denouement of the Black Power movement. Chronicling a surprisingly little-known era in U.S. educational, architectural, and urban history, the book traces an evolutionary arc that begins with an unsettling effort to end Columbia’s exercise of authoritarian power on campus and in the community and ends with an equally unsettling return to the status quo._x000B__x000B_When Ivory Towers Were Black follows two university units that steered the School of Architecture toward an emancipatory approach to education early along its evolutionary arc: the school’s Division of Planning and the university-wide Ford Foundation–funded Urban Center. It illustrates both units’ struggle to open the ivory tower to ethnic minority students and to involve them, and their revolutionary white peers, in improving Harlem’s slum conditions. The evolutionary arc ends as backlash against reforms wrought by civil rights legislation grew and whites bought into President Richard M. Nixon’s law-and-order agenda. The story is narrated through the oral histories of twenty-four Columbia alumni who received the gift of an Ivy League education during this era of transformation but who exited the School of Architecture to find the doors of their careers all but closed because of Nixon-era urban disinvestment policies._x000B__x000B_When Ivory Towers Were Black assesses the triumphs and subsequent unraveling of this bold experiment to achieve racial justice in the school and in the nearby Harlem/East Harlem community. It demonstrates how the experiment’s triumphs lived on not only in the lives of the ethnic minority graduates but also as best practices in university/community relationships and in the fields of architecture and urban planning. The book can inform contemporary struggles for racial and economic equality as an array of crushing injustices generate movements similar to those of the 1960s and ’70s. Its first-person portrayal of how a transformative process was reversed can help extend the period of experimentation, and it can also help reopen the door of opportunity to ethnic minority students, who are still in strikingly short supply in elite professions like architecture and planning.

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