Vol. 25 No. 1 (2019)

Published June 30, 2019


Editor's Notes


  • Of Monsters and Migrants: On the Loss of Sanctuaries in Literature as a Parable of Biopolitics in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

    To understand the cultural predecessors to the dehumanizing metaphors found in current populist rhetoric, it is beneficial to revisit some of the literary uses of such metaphors in the context of migration, xenophobia, and the notion of sanctuary. By rereading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1830), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) in light of these paradigms, the article explores the links between the monster and the city as sanctuary: while Mary Shelley’s novel shows us the classical scenario of the undesirable being banned from human community, Stoker’s vampire breaks into the sanctuary of both city and nation state, reflecting time-worn fears of invasion and contamination by the racial Other. Hugo demonstrates a third common form of undesirability within the sanctuary, calling into mind Foucault’s concept of inclusion within the city/nation state while also being excluded from it. This article bridges between these texts and prominent scenarios in the treatment of migrants today. (PA)

  • The Lucky Leaf Casino: A Retroscape in Cynthia Shearer’s The Celestial Jukebox

    Representations of the American South and the southern sense of space have been changing rapidly due to transnational effects of colonialism, globalization, and the rise of technologies. Due to such factors, unprecedented numbers of people now travel to more distant and less visited places. One consequence of such changes is that place and spatiality represent multicultural and global perceptions and experiences rather than being uniquely and distinctively local. Market economies exploit the space and create retroscapes to serve the economic aims of various industries. Within this context, drawing on the aesthetics of space, memory, and nostalgia, the paper focuses on the Lucky Leaf Casino in Cynthia Shearer’s The Celestial Jukebox to discuss how the text challenges and problematizes plantation nostalgia and labor exploitation through which power structures continue to restrict, disrupt, and exploit space, people, and history. (HA)

  • Coming of Age and Urban Landscapes in Edward P. Jones’s “Spanish in the Morning” and “The Girl Who Raised Pigeons”

    This analysis of “Spanish in the Morning” (2009) and “The Girl Who Raised Pigeons” (1992) by Edward P. Jones offers a preliminary (re-)interpretation of the urban imaginary in Jones’s oeuvre by focusing on how urban places interact with the protagonists’ coming-of-age process. Detailed descriptions of routes, references to exact locations in the city, spatial relations, and changes of place run through both stories. Relying on trauma theory and Jon Anderson’s conceptualization of places, the essay argues that the geographical landscape is in the forefront in these narratives, but not as a means of emphasizing, matching, or complementing the emotional one, but rather to hide it from view. The protagonists’ memories and identities gain expression in spatial terms, but foregrounding the city is posited as a hindrance to their coming-of-age process insofar as it prevents them from accepting the reality of their loss and from facing and coping with trauma. (ZsLM)

  • Slum or Arcadia? Hungary as “Other Space” in Imre by Edward Prime-Stevenson

    This essay substantiates the reasons why Edward Prime-Stevenson’s novelette, Imre (1906), which is considered to be the first openly gay novel in English with a happy ending, is set in an imaginary Budapest called Szent-Istvánhely. The paper suggests that there is a list of references to Hungary in late-Victorian gay literature that Prime-Stevenson builds upon. Another common element in these works is that the location, more specifically, the city landscape, plays an important role that maps the gay city and reflects on the English slumming culture in the East End. The paper substantiates the claim that Prime-Stevenson’s fictional Budapest functions as a Foucauldian heterotopias, which can juxtapose and reconcile oppositions coming from associations with Western and Eastern cultures, the slum and an Arcadia, respectively. (ZsB)

  • From Achilles’s Tent to a San Francisco Restaurant: Imaginations of the Closet in Thom Gunn’s Poetry

    This essay examines Thom Gunn’s key poems, chronologically mapping Ruth E. Fassinger’s model of gay and lesbian identity development onto it. Gunn’s poetry gradually changed in terms of how he addressed his homosexuality: whereas in his early work his sexual orientation was concealed, later it became increasingly visible, to the point of unambiguously referring to himself as “queer” in a poem from the 1980s. The poems discussed in this article—“The Wound” (1954), “The Secret Sharer” (1954), “The Corridor” (1957), “The Monster” (1961), “Bravery” (1967), “Behind the Mirror” (1976), and “Talbot Road” (1982)—address the split self of the speaker accompanied by spatial division. The poems with this leitmotif form a corpus characterized by a gradual change in terms of the rigidity of the division. Identifying the spatial division as the closet and the split self as the closeted subject, the article argues that Gunn’s coming out of the closet is a recurring poetic device deliberately developed throughout his oeuvre, which demonstrates his growth as an artist. (IOH)

  • Bridging the Narrative Gap: The Ghost Narrator in Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014)

    The essay reads Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014) in the context of Walter D. Mignolo’s discussion on “border thinking” and “border gnosis” in Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking (2000). Through introducing the narrative voice of Sir Arthur Jennings Marlon James creates a link between past and present, between Caribbean and European tradition of cultures of orality and literacy, and between pre- and post-colonial times, critically engaging in the erasure of thresholds of epistemological location. Specific attention is paid to Sir Arthur’s role as a “duppy” (a ghost or spirit in the religious practice of Obeah) and as a “griot” (an African/Caribbean bard and story-teller) whose function is to narrate and document local histories and guard verbal art traditions of the community. (AMT)

  • “. . . one part life and nine parts the other thing”: Painters and the Stage

    Bringing the act of artistic creation to the stage involves a multiplicity of strategies and interrogations that are not easily contained within the boundaries of the “drama of the artist” as understood in its quasi-biographical sense. This is especially true of visual art which cannot be represented by words only but requires a different kind of presence on stage. In many Künstlerdramas the biographical presence tends to impose recognizable limits to the fictionalization exercise, which frequently turns to the individual creator as the center of an inquiry into the problematics of artistry. This paper discusses how two contemporary Künstlerdramas, John Logan’s Red (2009) and John Murrell’s The Far Away Nearby (1996), attempt to reinvent the trope by weaving the biographical record with the performative presence of acts of staged visuality that re-center the act of artistic creation. (TB)

  • The Creation of Artists and Audiences in Morna Pearson’s The Artist Man and the Mother Woman (2012)

    This essay explores Northeast Scotland-born Morna Pearson’s first full-length play, The Artist Man and the Mother Woman (2012), a grotesque portrait of a tortured relationship of a middle-aged artist-teacher and his troubled mother. As Pearson’s dark comedy gradually turns into a violent tale of horror, new semantic dimensions unfold from beneath the initial surface of light entertainment, among them the exploration of the nature of artistic creativity. The sources of this creativity lie in belated sexual awakening and the powers this process unleashes. The essay argues that due to the representation of the liminal artist figure both as a creator and as a creation, Pearson’s Künstlerdrama studies the creation of art and the creation of the artist as intertwined processes which are difficult to distinguish. (AB)

  • John Williams’s Stoner and Literature as Dark Matter in the Age of Educational Managerialism

    The tension between Bildung and more utility-oriented dimensions of education is nothing new. For instance, Friedrich Nietzsche addressed the issue in a series of lectures despising nineteenth-century tendencies to let education be controlled by external forces. The contemporary literature teacher may feel inclined to endorse some of Nietzsche’s sentiments. What will remain of the subject of literature in the age of massification, learnification, and criterion-referenced teaching in secondary and tertiary education? Through an analysis of certain aspects of John Williams’s Stoner, the article considers a few central questions: why is the devoted literature teacher forced into a hypocritical position, pretending to do a set of stated things (learning outcomes), while actually doing (or wanting to do) something completely different? Is it not precisely what cannot be put into words that is the actual driving force of the study of literature? The article suggests that this Gordian knot cannot be untied and should not be cut, but also that the attempts to untie it are in themselves vitalizing forces that ought not to be neglected within literary studies and teaching. (JW)

  • The Weird Impossibility of Story

    What do we read in horror stories? To answer such an elusive question, research both historic and theoretical in nature is necessary. A comparison of proto-horror fiction by highly canonized nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century American authors (Poe, Bierce, James, Harvey, and Gilman) as well as Lovecraftian poetics reveals the presence of a theoretical thread that sutures these seemingly disparate literatures together. Classic American short stories show a strikingly similar memetic conformation to weird fiction when examined from the framework offered by Sigmund Freud’s seminal essay “Das Unheimliche” [The Uncanny] (1919). Identifying the memetic transmutations that the uncanny goes through in various close readings offers a taxonomy of six tropes—allegorizations of singularities, doubles, and triads—that are already implicit in the Freudian text. Such categorization applied to the weird genre unravels poetics that, as the article argues, stem from an innately subversive impulse in American literature. (PH)


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