A prolific author, Orson Scott Card has written works that encompass a range of genres including a large body of commentary, Mormon drama, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and often melds elements of one into another. In particular, as John Clute notes, “a ‘feel’ of fantasy pervades much of his s[cience] f[iction] work.” In fiction...s such as Enders Game, Treason, and Wyrms, and stories like “The Originist,” his tribute to Asimov’s Second Foundation, he employs traditional elements of fantasy: its language in references to wizards, dragons, magic, and such characters as dwelfs, a portmanteau of “elf” and “dwarf”; the episodic quest narrative of escalating perils undertaken by the protagonist, who moves from isolation to community; and the conventional, often medieval, fantasyscape of fabulous forests, rivers, and mountains. Through such a strategy Card establishes a heightened significance to human experiences that both genres address, and opens another portal to the sense of wonder that informs each. (WAS)
Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? explores the notions of the schizoid and the android as prototypes for the posthuman. Dick created androids to represent people physiologically and psychologically behaving in a non-human way, which is the same as Dick’s literal interpretation of a human without empathy—the sch...izoid. Hence, androids are metaphors for schizoid humans, or posthumans. Furthermore, there is a metaphysical worldview underlying Dick’s notion of empathy which differentiates the posthuman from the human, and this worldview conflicts with the materialistic worldview of the posthumans. Dick supports the metaphysical worldview over the materialistic ideology of the posthuman. The analysis draws primarily on Dick’s novel and three of his later essays to conclude that Dick wrote about the notions of the schizoid and android as prototypes for the posthuman long before anyone had an idea to embark on a full-length study of the posthuman, and Dick’s vision was an insightful warning about the coming implications of the schizoid posthuman for the twenty-first century. (GM)
Beezmohun, Sharmilla, ed. Continental Shifts, Shifts in Perception: Black Cultures and Identities in Europe. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016. 190 pages. ISBN 9781443888240. Hb. £41.99.
Broadberry, Stephen, Bruce M. S. Campbell, Alexander Klein, Mark Overton, and Bas van Leeuwen. British Economic Growth, 1270-1870. Cambridge: CUP, 2015. 461 pages. ISBN 978-1-107-67649-7. Pbk. £25.
The problem of sexual violence, including rape, domestic assault, sexual harassment, and molestation has recently become a topical issue both in public discourse and popular culture. The unspoken individual traumas have found their way to the world of TV series, such as HBO’s mini-series Big Little Lies. The essay explores the unique ways in...which the television series treats sexuality and personal traumas. It argues that while by no means can it be regarded as a soap opera, Big Little Lies occasionally uses and rewrites the genre-specific codes of this traditionally low-prestige television genre intended for women to alter the representation of individual traumas in popular culture. The use of flashbacks and involuntary repetition as narrative elements along with the retrospective framework of a criminal investigation make the serial form much suited to examine individual traumas. The television series attempts the almost impossible: to speak of the trauma’s unspeakability, and simultaneously it seeks to maintain its high viewership. (ZsOR)
Patricia Duncker’s 1999 neo-Victorian novel is a fictional biography of the legendary Victorian military surgeon, James Miranda Barry, rumored to be a hermaphrodite. Duncker’s postmodern feminist fiction recreates the medical discourse, as well as the body and sexual politics of the Victorian era by writing these nineteenth-century somatic...ideologies onto the ambiguously gendered body of Barry. Interrogating the poetic and political strategies of creating medicine as a masculinized profession from a cultural studies point of view, the essay argues that Duncker’s novel can be contextualized within a recent tendency in contemporary British fiction that could be hypothesized as medico-historical metafiction, indirectly addressing twenty-first-century biopolitical questions about the cultural inscription of gender roles and bodily normality by (re)telling a Victorian narrative. These questions are examined from three aspects: the neo-Victorian historical novel as a feminist genre, the androgyne as a late-Victorian subtype of the grotesque freak, and nineteenth-century female identities as the reservoir of disempowering pseudo-choices. (EU)
Horlacher, Stefan, ed. Configuring Masculinity in Theory and Literary Practice. DQR Studies in Literature 58. Boston: Brill Rodopi, 2015. viii + 318 pages. ISBN 978-90-04-29899-6. Hb. $106.
Ingman, Heather. Ageing in Irish Writing: Strangers to Themselves. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. 209 pages. ISBN 978 3 319 96429-4. Hb. €74.89.
Crişan, Marius-Mircea, ed. Dracula: An International Perspective. Palgrave Gothic. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. xi + 280 pages. ISBN 978-3-319-63365-7. Hb. $101.51.
Rieder, John. Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2017. 224 pages. ISBN 9780819577160. Pbk. $22.95.
Czigányik, Zsolt, ed. Utopian Horizons: Ideology, Politics, Literature. Budapest, New York: Central European UP, 2017. viii + 256 pages. ISBN 978-963-386-181-3. Hb. Npr.
Introduction to the Special Thematic Block: Human Boundaries / Boundaries of the Human
In his collection of prose-poems, Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell, Charles Simic evokes the American artist’s aesthetic practice as a form of meditation on the heterosemiotic nature of the artistic imagination. Cornell’s art, often described as “visual poetry,” becomes for Simic a pretext for exploring the multimo...dal and interconnected spaces of the verbal and the visual. Simic describes his creative rereading of Cornell’s work as “the third image” in which art historical discourse and ekphrasis are reinvented and transformed into a new poetic rhythm. The poet’s engagement with Cornell is also of an intensely personal character: the encounter with the artist’s work enables Simic to revisit his own past, that is, that of a lonely Manhattan flaneur whose imagination is haunted by traumatic childhood memories from war-torn Serbia. With the aid of Jacques Lacan’s concepts of the gaze and the screen, the article examines the ways in which Simic’s texts and visual intertexts probe generic boundaries and discursive identifications, showcasing the significance, function, and creative value of cross-influence between heterogeneous discourses and media. As shown, Simic’s concept of “the third image,” which finds its inspiration in the tension between containment and freedom in Cornell’s shadow boxes, offers readers a rich and personal insight into the complex interplay between discursivity, visuality, figurality, as well as personal and collective memory. (PA)
de Bruin-Molé, Megen. Gothic Remixed: Monster Mashups and Frankenfictions in 21st-Century Culture. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. x + 264 pages. ISBN 978-1350103054. Hb. £76.50.
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 presen...ce 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)
This essay examines Heinlein's Young Adult (YA) stories—commonly referred to as his “juveniles”—and argues that Heinlein's "Others" are not defined by race, gender, or planet of origin but by their inability to understand and deal with the changes that inter-planetary travel will bring. (CWS)
Ilott, Sarah, Ana Cristina Mendes, and Lucinda Newns, eds. New Directions in Diaspora Studies: Cultural and Literary Approaches. London, New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2018. xxxiii + 165 pages. ISBN 978-1-78660-516-0. Hb. £85.
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 N...ietzsche’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)
Seth, Suman. Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire. Cambridge: CUP, 2018. 324 pages. ISBN 978-1-108-41830-0. Pbk. £29.99.
In his own version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Neil Gaiman exploits the possibilities in doubling: he presents the Shakespearean comedy as a play within the artistic space of his graphic novel and Such a reading reveals that what is a tool in Shakespeare’s play to visualize that art is capable of mirroring reality becomes a means... to express the interchangeability of the realistic and the fantastic realms. Gaiman’s strategy of doubling thus suggests an understanding of life that surpasses the narrow interpretation of historical facts, and thereby it may offer a viable alternative to what we experience as reality.
Golden Age detective fiction by women offers insights into the competing gender ideologies of the 1930s and early 1940s. The female protagonist these novels delineate is called “the female gentleman” by Melissa Schaub, who describes her as the detective’s equal based on her intellectual abilities and independence. Although the female gent...leman seems a revolutionary figure as she is forward-looking in gender politics, her strong belief in class hierarchy, her Victorian morals and relationship with the gentleman detective relocate her in the heritage of the English pastoral. This essay focuses on the female gentleman as a bridge figure whose marriage to the detective not only restores him to his masculinity but also portrays the woman embedded in the pastoral idyll of the English landscape. Her decision to accept traditional femininity reinforces the female gentleman’s role in the recreation of the stability and security of pre-war England. (RZs)