Just Words: Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, and the Failure of Public Conversation in America
Yale University Press, 2011
In an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in 1980, the critic Mary McCarthy glibly remarked that every word author Lillian Hellman wrote was a lie, "including 'and' and 'the.'" Hellman immediately filed a libel suit, charging that McCarthy's comment was not a legitimate conversation on public issues but an attack on her reputation. This intriguing book offers a many-faceted examination of Hellman's infamous suit and explores what it tells us about tensions between privacy and self-expression, freedom and restraint in public language, and what can and cannot be said in public in America.
“A fascinating and highly original contribution that will interest anyone who cares about media, as well as cultural and intellectual history”--Susan Jacoby
"When Mary McCarthy said on the Dick Cavett Show that every word Lillian Hellman wrote was a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the,’ was she making a literal statement subject to verification? Producing a hyperbolic remark not meant to be taken seriously? Standing up for truth in a world corrupted by political fabrication? Or insisting on a standard of libel the Supreme Court had moved away from? These are just a few of the questions that Alan Ackerman teases out of this fabled incident in a book that demonstrates how an initially narrow focus can flower into a meditation on the deepest things."—Stanley Fish
"Lillian Hellman sued Mary McCarthy for libel over a single sentence. Starting with the facts of this case, Ackerman zooms in to scrutinize the meaning of language, the law of defamation, the nature of privacy, the lives and works of the two writers, and, perhaps most important, the political and cultural quarrels of an age, many of which remain with us."—Stephen Gillers, New York University School of Law
Seeing Things: From Shakespeare to Pixar
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2011
A technological revolution has changed the way we see things. The storytelling media employed by Pixar Animation Studios, Samuel Beckett, and William Shakespeare differ greatly, yet these creators share a collective fascination with the nebulous boundary between material objects and our imaginative selves. How do the acts of seeing and believing remain linked? Alan Ackerman charts the dynamic history of interactions between showing and knowing in Seeing Things, a richly interdisciplinary study which illuminates changing modes of perception and modern representational media.
Seeing Things demonstrates that the airy nothings of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Ghost in Hamlet, and soulless bodies in Beckett's media experiments, alongside Toy Story's digitally animated toys, all serve to illustrate the modern problem of visualizing, as Hamlet put it, 'that within which passes show.' Ackerman carefully analyses such ghostly appearances and disappearances across cultural forms and contexts from the early modern period to the present, investigating the tension between our distrust of shadows and our abiding desire to believe in invisible realities. Seeing Things provides a fresh and surprising cultural history through theatrical, verbal, pictorial, and cinematic representations.
‘In these elegant essays, at once theatrical and philosophical, Alan Ackerman offers a probing meditation on sight and on the lingering mysteries of the invisible.’--Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Harvard University and author of The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy
‘I was consistently engaged and fascinated by Alan Ackerman’s outstanding book, Seeing Things. What is most exciting about this study is Ackerman’s perceptions: through compelling intellectual inquiry, he takes the reader on a wonderful journey through his complex and inquisitive mind.’--David Krasner, Department of Performing Arts, Emerson College
‘… Alan Ackerman confronts us with the spectral question: to see or not to see? From Plato to Ibsen and Beckett to Disney Toy Story movies, you're asked to rehearse perception – philosophically, aesthetically, even metaphysically – in the mind’s eye.’--Herbert Blau, Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of the Humanities, University of Washington
Alan Ackerman, ed.
Against Theatre: Creative Destructions on the Modernist Stage
Modernist theatre emerges as a field marked by competing, and often contradictory, impulses and developments. A critique, even destruction, of certain types of theatre is, this book shows, a productive force within modernism and a force that led to the most successful reforms of modern theatre and drama. Theatre is understood by modernists sometimes as a medium, sometimes as a trope or idea that reconfigures the relationships between ‘actors’ and ‘audiences’ while interrogating each and every aspect of theatrical representation from a variety of perspectives, including aesthetic, political, legal, and technical ones. Against Theatre argues that anti-theatricalism emerges in response to specific kinds of theatre and, by extension, that modernist forms of anti-theatricalism, which attack not necessarily theatre itself but the value of theatricality, nevertheless originate in a historically specific experience of theatre. This fascinating collection includes contributions from leading scholars in the English-speaking world and will be a key resource to anyone interested in modern drama, modernist theatre, modernism, and theatre studies.
Suzanne Conklin Akbari
The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 3rd revised edition. 6 vols.
W.W. Norton, 2012.
The Norton Anthology of World Literature
Third Edition, Paperback
Volume(s): Package 1: Vols. A, B, C
Martin Puchner (General Editor, Harvard University), Suzanne Conklin Akbari (Editor, University of Toronto), Wiebke Denecke (Editor, Boston University), Vinay Dharwadker (Editor, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Barbara Fuchs (Editor, University of California-Los Angeles), Caroline Levine (Editor, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Pericles Lewis (Editor, Yale University), Emily Wilson (Editor, University of Pennsylvania)
A classic, reimagined.
Read by millions of students since its first publication, The Norton Anthology of World Literature remains the most-trusted anthology of world literature available. Guided by the advice of more than 500 teachers of world literature and a panel of regional specialists, the editors of the Third Edition—a completely new team of scholar-teachers—have made this respected text brand-new in all the best ways. Dozens of new selections and translations, all-new introductions and headnotes, hundreds of new illustrations, redesigned maps and timelines, and a wealth of media resources all add up to the most exciting, accessible, and teachable version of “the Norton” ever published.
John H. Astington
Actors and Acting in Shakespeare’s Time; The Art of Stage Playing
Cambridge University Press, 2010
John Astington brings the acting style of the Shakespearean period to life, describing and analysing the art of the player in the English professional theatre between Richard Tarlton and Thomas Betterton. The book pays close attention to the cultural context of stage playing, the critical language used about it, and the kinds of training and professional practice employed in the theatre at various times over the course of roughly one hundred years –1558–1660. This up-to-date survey takes into account recent discoveries about actors and their social networks, about apprenticeship and company affiliations, and about playing outside the major centre of theatre, London. Astington considers the educational tradition of playing, in schools, universities, legal inns, and choral communities, in comparison to the work of the professional players. A comprehensive biographical dictionary of all major professional players of the Shakespearean period is included as a handy reference guide.
English Court Theatre 1558-1642
John H. Astington
Donna Bennett and Russell Brown, eds.
A New Anthology of Canadian Literature in English
Oxford University Press, 2002
An anthology of 85 Canadian poets and fiction writers from the beginnings to the twenty-first century, with critical headnotes and explanatory footnotes.
Donna Bennett and Russell Brown, eds.
Canadian Short Stories
Pearson Education Canada, 2005
An anthology of 39 Canadian short stories from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, with an emphasis on recently emerging writers.
Romanticism and Colonial Disease
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999
Colonial experience was profoundly structured by disease, as expansion brought people into contact with new and deadly maladies. Pathogens were exchanged on a scale far greater than ever before. Native populations were decimated by wave after wave of Old World diseases. In turn, colonists suffered disease and mortality rates much higher than in their home countries. For both groups colonialism ushered in an age of extended epidemiological crisis. Not only disease, but the idea of disease, and the response to it, deeply affected both colonizers and those colonized.
In Romanticism and Colonial Disease, I focus on the British response to colonial disease as medical and literary writers, in a period roughly from the end of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, grappled to understand this new world of disease. I find this literature characterized by increasing anxiety about the global dimensions of disease and the epidemiological cost of empire. Colonialism infiltrated the heart of Romantic literature, affecting not only the Romantics' framing of disease but also their understanding of England's position in the colonial world.
This book is the first major study of the massive impact of colonial disease on British culture during the Romantic period. It charts the emergence of the idea of the colonial world as a pathogenic space in need of a cure, and examines the role of disease in the making and unmaking of national identities.
J. Edward Chamberlin
Come Back To Me My Language: Poetry and the West Indies
Chicago, Toronto and Kingston, Jamaica: University of Illinois Press, McClelland and Stewart and Ian Randle Publishers, 1993; 1999
In the last fifty years, a powerful and distinctive body of poetry has emerged in the West Indies. Still resonating with the curse of slavery, this poetry shares its roots with rap and reggae, and has the same hold on the popular imagination. But it has also become part of the heritage of English literature, and has received international recognition with the work of Derek Walcott, Lorna Goodison and Kamau Brathwaite. Come Back To Me My Language: Poetry and the West Indies is the first comprehensive study of this remarkable tradition of contemporary poetry, and includes the work of more than thirty poets and performers, with detailed analyses of the major ones. It provides historical and social background to the poetry, places it within the context of current literary criticism, and shows how it has given the people of the Caribbean a new way to see themselves, and to look at others.
J. Edward Chamberlin
If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground
Toronto, Cincinnati and Manchester: Knopf/Vintage, Pilgrim Press, Carcanet; 2003, 2004, 2006
Like the landscapes and languages of the world, stories both hold people together and keep them apart. If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground illustrates how storytelling traditions convey the different truths of religion and science, of history and the arts, telling people where they came from and why they are here, how to live and sometimes how to die, what to believe and--most importantly--how to believe. They come in many different forms, from creation stories to constitutions, from southern epics and northern sagas to native American tales and African praise songs and from nursery rhymes and national anthems to myths and mathematics. They are all ceremonies of beliefs, even when they are chronicles of events--this is our common ground across cultures--and they always embody the contradictions between reality and the imagination, and between fact and fiction.
J. Edward Chamberlin
Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations
New York, Toronto, Oxford: BlueBridge, Knopf/Vintage, Signal Books; 2006, 2007
From ancient cave paintings to the calendars we hang in our modern kitchens and bedrooms, horses have fascinated humans for thousands of years, finding a place in our lives and our languages, and shaping the history of societies in war and peace, in work and play. It is a history that is full of contradictions. Horses that were hunted down for their meat and skin and bones were also honoured for their grace and beauty--takh, which translates as "spirit", is the Mongolian word for a wild horse, and it was there on the central Asian steppes that humans first domesticated horses. There too the wild and the domestic, as well as the secular and the sacred, became fellow travelers when horses and humans rode out together. Drawing on archaeology, ethnography, biology, art, literature and history, Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations illuminates the ways in which horses transformed the world from China and India to Greece and Rome, and from Europe and Africa to the Americas, where horses first appeared, providing a ceremonial centre to Christianity and Islam as well as to the great native American horse cultures.
George Elliott Clarke
A ferocious collection of poems addressing blackness, literature, sex, violence, art, politics, and beauty. A companion to the acclaimed Blue (2001), these lyrics go yet further in the direction of America-- African-America, meting out raunch and rage, in most spectacularly uncanadian measures.
George Elliott Clarke
Canadian Scholars Press International, 2005
Each poem 'dialogues' with a full-colour, fine-art, Black nude photographed by Trinidadian-Canadian Ricardo Scipio. This righteously Afrocentric volume revisits the Greek myth of the Muses, rendering them as Black women, all daughters of the Daughter of Music, and representing heroic creativity: Calypso, Soul, Blues, Jazz, Reggae, Poetry, Saint Anastacia of Brazil, Dona Beatrice of the Congo, and the African goddess, Oxum.
George Elliott Clarke
George & Rue
Harper Collins Canada, Ecco Press (UK), Carroll & Graf (USA), 2004-05
This internationally celebrated novel is based on the True Crime story of the hangings, for murder, of George and Rufus Hamilton, two 'Africadian' brothers, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in 1949. While rendered in what the author dubs "Blackened English," the plot unfolds with the heightened grandeur of tragedy, thereby framing raw, backwoods violence with a classical structure, one that also reveals the ugly reality of anti-Black racism in mid-20th-century Canada.
God Hates Fags: The Rhetorics of Religious Violence
New York University Press, 2006, Sexual Cultures Series
Though long thought of as one of the most virulently anti-gay genres of contemporary American politics and culture, in God Hates Fags, Michael Cobb maintains that religious discourses have curiously figured as the most potent and pervasive forms of queer expression and activism throughout the twentieth century. Cobb focuses on how queers have assumed religious rhetoric strategically to respond to the violence done against them, alternating close readings of writings by James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Jean Toomer, Dorothy Allison, and Stephen Crane with critical legal and political analyses of Supreme Court Cases and anti-gay legislation. He also pays deep attention to the political strategies, public declarations, websites, interviews, and other media made by key religious right organizations that have mounted the most successful regulations and condemnations of homosexuality.
A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens
Princeton UP, 2007: paperback, 2009
Enigmas and Riddles in Literature
Cambridge University Press, 2006
How do enigmas and riddles work in literature? Not just in author A or B or even in the entrancing Old English riddles, but in general. This book offers the first full-length study of how to read them. It revives the old figure of speech known as “enigma” from Aristotle to the seventeenth century, and shows its usefulness. It looks at enigma in the widest sense, as masterplot. It considers questions of riddle and genre, and it proposes a new griph-type class of riddle as scheme. The opening chapter surveys “enigma personified” as sphinx and griffin, resuscitating a lost Graeco-Latin pun on “griffin” that Lewis Carroll used. The history and functions of enigma draw on classical and biblical through to modern writing, while examples concentrate on literature in English, especially modern poetry. Other examples range from European and Middle Eastern literatures to folk-riddling. Three case-studies, on Dante, Carroll, and Wallace Stevens, demonstrate this method of reading in detail. "Seldom is an important book so enjoyable." (Alastair Fowler, Yale Review)
Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual & the Public Sphere
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere situates Virginia Woolf's ideas on literature, reading, and education in the context of on-going controversies circulating in the newspapers, periodicals, and radio broadcasting of her time. Refuting popular conceptions of Woolf's snobbery and elitism, Melba Cuddy-Keane redefines Woolf as a "democratic highbrow" — a writer intensely engaged in public debates about intellectual culture, adult education, pedagogy, and democratic goals. This study updates Richard Altick's history of the nineteenth-century English common reader by tracing new developments into the first decades of the twentieth century; it also reveals Woolf as a theorist of reading whose understanding of unconscious and conscious processes, dialogic modes, historicism, and evaluative practices anticipates theoretical concepts most often identified with the later twentieth century.
Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere has been described as "an outstanding piece of scholarship: original, provocative, historically and theoretically grounded" (The Yearbook of English Studies) and "required reading for anyone interested in the intellectual and cultural history of modernism" (Modernism/modernity).
In the Shadow of the Gallows: Race, Crime, and American Civic Identity
University of Pennsylvania Press, July 2012
Well before Americans began to debate the personhood of corporations and embryos, the slave most vividly demarcated the boundary line between flesh-and-blood human beings and the artificial bundle of rights and duties known as the person. Frequently overlooked, this crucial distinction has powerfully shaped black public presence in America. In particular, Jeannine DeLombard shows, public displays of black criminality enabled Americans to recognize enslaved and other people of African descent as legally responsible persons rather than as human property. In the century before the Civil War, hangings and other forms of state punishment affirmed black political membership in the breach while a thriving popular gallows literature provided early America’s best-known models of individual black selfhood. Before there was the slave narrative, there was the criminal confession.
Placing the black condemned at the forefront of the African-American tradition allows us to see how a later generation of enslaved activists – most notably, Frederick Douglass – could marshal the public presence and civic authority to fashion themselves as eligible citizens. And, in an era when abolitionists were charging Americans with complicity in the national crime of “manstealing,” a racialized sense of culpability became equally central to white civic identity. If, as one early American writer feared, slave criminals like Nat Turner were “puffed up” by participation in print culture, fiction by Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, George Lippard, and Edward Everett Hale shows guilty white male citizens shrinking from legal scrutiny.
From Puritan Execution Day rituals to gangsta rap, the black criminal has been an enduring presence in American culture. To understand why, this provocative study insists, we must set aside the lenses of pathology and persecution in order to view the African-American felon from the far more revealing perspectives of publicity and personhood.
Delving into an enormous archive of comic novels, jestbooks, farces, variety shows, and cartoons, Dickie finds a vast repository of jokes about cripples, blind men, rape, and wife-beating. Epigrams about syphilis and scurvy sit alongside one-act comedies about hunchbacks in love. He shows us that everyone—rich and poor, women as well as men—laughed along. In the process, Dickie also expands our understanding of many of the century’s major authors, including Samuel Richardson, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Tobias Smollett, Frances Burney, and Jane Austen. He devotes particular attention to Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, a novel that reflects repeatedly on the limits of compassion and the ethical problems of laughter. Cruelty and Laughter is an engaging, far-reaching study of the other side of culture in eighteenth-century Britain.
“This book is a prodigiously erudite reminder that the eighteenth century was not just polite, but vicious. Drawing on jestbooks, verse satires, comic fiction, and a plethora of overlooked sources, Dickie depicts a literary, visual, and physical world replete with cruelty, ribald denigration, and low and bawdy humor. Skillfully combining textual exegesis with a profound knowledge of recent social history, he shows that mockery of the lower orders, beggars, and the poor; jests and japes at the expense of the crippled, deformed, and handicapped; and ribald enthusiasm for sexual violence and rape were part of a cruel social world in which the unprivileged and disadvantaged, even as they sometimes excited compassion and sympathy, were just as likely to excite a disdain that ran the full gamut of verbal and physical violence.”--John Brewer, California Institute of Technology
“A pioneering work. Dickie uncovers a rich, long-neglected archive and challenges received wisdom on virtually every page. A joy to read and a revelation.”--Toni Bowers, University of Pennsylvania
“With great verve, occasional disgust, and intermittent outrage, Simon Dickie portrays a society of entrenched hierarchies in which entitled aristocrats entertained themselves with cripple dances, libertine young bucks wreaked havoc in both popular fiction and common reality, and the poor and disabled were the inevitable butts of cruel jokes on and off the page. Working against common scholarly assumptions but backed by ample evidence, he argues that delight in the suffering of others was one thing that all classes of eighteenth-century society shared. Throughout he combines the virtues of a historian and a literary critic with a creative and self-conscious awareness of the complex relation of representation to reality. One of the most original, readable, educational, and entertaining books in the field of eighteenth-century studies I have read in the past decade.”--Helen Deutsch, University of California, Los Angeles
“This excellent and thoroughly researched book argues clearly that eighteenth-century readers read—and worse, enjoyed laughing at—jokes that we would find in incredibly bad taste; and in that, Dickie sees the key to the persistence of an entire way of thinking that is now lost to us. Bringing a tremendous amount of material to our attention, he takes a provocative stance against what he sees as an idealized image of the eighteenth century and points to numerous avenues for future research. Terrific and important, Cruelty and Laughter will be of great interest to scholars of eighteenth-century history, literature, popular culture, humor, and the history of the book.”--John O’Brien, University of Virginia and Author of Harlequin Britain: Pantomime and Entertainment, 1690–1760