This book provides a combination of critical argument about those central debates within African literary studies, alongside a focus on individual texts and writers that are central to the study of African literatures. It investigates how certain versions of the past get to be remembered, which memories are privileged and what the loci are for memory within the context of African literatures. The book establishes the main debates about African writing in relation to modernism and traditionalism, history and the present, trauma and the ethics of historical representation, and theories of memory as a challenge to the discourses of historiography and ethnography. In these respects, the book first focuses upon memory as a discourse in African writing, emerging as a product of discourse in the ways it operates in private and public life. It then explores how memory is socially and historically constituted within differing African contexts. The book also interrogates the invocation of memory within a number of other discourses (political, historical, ethical, autobiographical, gender, ethnic), enquiring how memory is called upon to legitimate identity, construct or reconstruct it. It further explores how memory is narratively organized, and the ways in which narrative is related to other cultural forms of remembering.
For the last three decades or so, literary studies, especially those dealing with premodern texts, have been dominated by the New Historicist paradigm. This book is a collection of essays explores medieval and early modern Troilus-texts from Chaucer to Shakespeare. The contributions show how medieval and early modern fictions of Troy use love and other emotions as a means of approaching the problem of tradition. The book argues that by emphasizing Troilus's and Cressida's hopes and fears, Shakespeare sets in motion a triangle of narrative, emotion and temporality. It is a spectacle of which tells something about the play but also about the relation between anticipatory emotion and temporality. The sense of multiple literary futures is shaped by Shakespeare's Chaucer, and in particular by Troilus and Criseyde. The book argues that the play's attempted violence upon a prototypical form of historical time is in part an attack on the literary narratives. Criseyde's beauty is described many times. The characters' predilection for sententiousness unfolds gradually. Through Criseyde, Chaucer's Poet displaces authorial humility as arrogance. The Troilus and Criseyde/Cressida saga begins with Boccaccio, who isolates and expands the love affair between Troiolo and Criseida to vent his sexual frustration. The poem appears to be linking an awareness of history and its continuing influence and impact on the present to hermeneutical acts conspicuously gendered female. The main late medieval Troy tradition does two things: it represents ferocious military combat, and also practises ferocious literary combat against other, competing traditions of Troy.
This book draws together three areas from which sense is made: rhetoric, poetics and aesthetics. Coming to terms with rhetoric, poetics and aesthetics is essential for understanding not only early modern writing but also a certain influential narrative of modernity. This notion of modernity is not a purely literary one, and the author's discussion has nothing to say about artistic ideas of modernism. The book demonstrates the necessity of reading, but of a reading that is always local, located, limited - always aware, that is, of its limitations. To claim to have read a few texts is not as small a claim as it might at first appear. In the current historicist climate, reading has, like rhetoric, become somehow unfashionable except as a topic for excavation. The first part of the book elaborates the connections between rhetoric, aesthetics and literature. Frequent recourse is made to rhetorical treatises, but equally frequently there are discussions of material that comes from periods other than the early modern, both earlier and later. The second part of the book focuses on either an aspect of the body related to the sense of reading or on the deliberate disavowal of the body and its senses.
This book examines the relationship between class and culture in 1930s Britain. Focusing on the reading and cinema-going tastes of the working classes, it combines historical analysis with a close textual reading of visual and written sources to appraise the role of popular leisure in this decade. Drawing on original research, the book adds to our knowledge of working-class leisure pursuits in this contentious period.
much they may seem to be at
odds in the abstract. The result is a sense of unease, which, once
noticed, is hard to allay, but which itself is a rich response, albeit
one that makes it impossible to arrive at a single, unambiguous
and uncompromised reaction to places such as this.
All of this is pertinent to ecocritical literarystudy. The questions raised and the contradictions foregrounded by considering
the existence and effects of such places as St Winifred’s Well are
the same as those found when analysing texts in the light of current green concerns. Not all the
of a close analysis
of the complex history of literarystudy in the modern university,
reflecting on the problem of (the) institution by locating literarystudies as a ‘division’ of the university - that is, as
part of an institution that in important ways it partitions or
describes. Here the institution of literature, set up ‘through
a decision within writing in general
himself as beginning the process of repairing aspects of criticism which theory had damaged, and restoring them to their proper places within literarystudies, rather like someone starting to tidy up after a flood or a hurricane. There have been other ‘restorative’ books, some with a more localised brief, such as David Scott Kastan's Shakespeare After Theory (Routledge, 1999). In this book ‘after theory’ is understood to mean, not the period after the passing away of theory, but the period during which theory has ceased to be news. Theory is no longer news-worthy, it
with an account of the ‘liberal humanism’ against which all these newer critical approaches, broadly speaking, define themselves.
There is a problem concerning how to label the older ways of doing literarystudies that were challenged in the 1970s and 1980s by the arrival on the scene of the theoretical developments described in this book. One solution is to use a generalised phrase like ‘older approaches to literarystudy’, or ‘traditional ways of discussing literature’. But the vagueness of descriptors like these is troubling, and it is never safe to assume that
relationship between literature and history. Perhaps the most
significant innovation was less the new answers this formation provided than the
new ways of asking questions it provoked, and most notably its reformulation of
the problem of Ireland as another way of confronting the problem of modernity.
Irish studies and Irish difference
Let us consider, for instance, how Irish literarystudies might respond to the
question, ‘Are the Irish different?’ The indispensable value of the human sciences is
its capacity to empirically test such a question, formulating a comparative
vocabulary for the literarystudy of graphic textual phenomena. I am
not, however, proposing to offer a history of typographic devices,
noting development and lineages of influence (a difficult but worthy
task for a bibliographer). My intention is to examine such devices
within a very particular context: that of the interpretation of prose
fiction. This should not be read as an attempt to establish these