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Yeats, Otherness and the Orient

Aesthetic and Spiritual Bearings

Nicholas Meihuizen

Yeats’s relationships with Otherness and the Orient enabled him to develop his own creative abilities and spiritual understanding in expansive ways. Exotic versions of India, Celtic orientalism, the fervent psychological probings of the nineteenth century (which showed a deep interest in the paranormal), mystical studies aided by such figures as Mohini Chaterjee, Arabist ideas and images, the Japanese Noh, Zen Buddhism, Byzantium, Vedāntic philosophy – all helped the poet to examine and express human interactions with existence that were distinctive in their figuration and underpinnings. Facing Otherness with an extraordinary philosophical and spiritual intensity, he was able to uncover (though never fully or finally anatomize) aspects of the depths of his own being. The Orient also provided him with conceptual and intuitive means to broach humankind’s relation to cosmic order; this resulted in an exploration of the Otherness which underpins existence on quite a remarkable scale, still not fully appreciated by Yeats’s readers. This book seeks to help foster such appreciation.

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Violent Disruptions

American Imaginations of Racial Anxiety in William Faulkner and Richard Wright

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Linda Chavers

Violent Disruptions: American Imaginations of Racial Anxiety in William Faulkner and Richard Wright examines two authors who have powerfully predicted the formation of racial identities and its surrounding discourse in the United States today: William Faulkner (1897–1962) and Richard Wright (1908–1960). Using the works of Faulkner and Wright, this text argues that race becomes visible only through image production and exchange. Further, it argues that following the dismantling of our legally upheld racial inequality and everyday racist language, it is precisely the visual register wherein we see most acutely the continued present-day operation of racial inequality. Violent Disruptions thus places William Faulkner and Richard Wright at the center of our current dramas in the 21st century in popular television, political theater and criminal justice.

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Underwords

Re-reading the Subtexts of Modernity

Alec Charles

What takes place when we examine texts close-up? The art of close reading, once the closely guarded province of professional literary critics, now underpins the everyday processes of forensic scrutiny conducted by those brigades of citizen commentators who patrol the realms of social media.

This study examines at close quarters a series of key English texts from the last hundred years: the novels of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, the plays of Samuel Beckett, the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Philip Larkin, the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the tweets of Donald Trump. It digs beneath their surface meanings to discover microcosmic ambiguities, allusions, ironies and contradictions which reveal tensions and conflicts at the heart of the paradox of patriarchal history. It suggests that acts of close reading may offer radical perspectives upon the bigger picture, as well as the means by which to deconstruct it. In doing so, it suggests an alternative to a classical vision of cultural progress characterised by irreconcilable conflicts between genders, genres and generations.

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Landscapes of Writing

Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa

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Bapsi Sidhwa

Edited by Teresa Russo

This book is a collection of essays by international writer Bapsi Sidhwa gathered for the first time in one edition by Teresa Russo, with a foreword written by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta. Landscapes of Writing: Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa provides a writer’s perspective on issues of South Asian literature, linguistics, poetry, and views of political events and globalization. In the first part of the book, Bapsi Sidhwa discusses her childhood, family life, and how she became a writer. There is also a revised essay detailing how her book Cracking India became a film by Deepa Mehta. The second part of the book focuses on her thoughts concerning war, terrorism, and how to achieve peace. This collection includes two letters, demonstrating her local and nationalistic perspectives to a larger view of an interconnected world.

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Getting the Blues

Vision and Cognition in the Middle Ages

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Brian J. Reilly

Getting the Blues: Vision and Cognition in the Middle Ages is an interdisciplinary study of medieval color. By integrating scientific and literary approaches, it revises our current understanding of how people in medieval Europe experienced color and what it meant to them. This book insists that the past perception of the world can be recovered by joining timeless universal constraints on human experience (discovered by science) to the unique cultural expressions of that experience (revealed by literature).

The Middle Ages may evoke images of the multicolored stained glass of gothic cathedrals, the motley garb of minstrels, or the brilliant illuminations of manuscripts, yet such color often goes unnoticed in scholarly accounts of medieval literature. Getting the Blues restores some of the most important literary works of the Middle Ages to their full living color. Particular consideration is given to the twelfth-century Arthurian romances by Chrétien de Troyes and the thirteenth-century Lancelot-Grail Cycle.

Getting the Blues engages debates within the humanities and the sciences over universalist and relativist approaches to how humans see and name color. Scholars in the humanities often insist that color is a strictly cultural phenomenon, eschewing as irrelevant to the Middle Ages recent developments in cognitive science that show universal constraints on how people in all cultures see and name color. This book contributes to the recent cognitive turn in the humanities and sheds new light on some of the most frequent and meaningful cultural experiences in the Middle Ages: the perception, use, and naming of color.

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Georgia O’Keeffe in Poetry

Offspring of an Icon

Cristiana Pagliarusco

This book examines poetic interpretations of the life and works of the American Modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe. It shows how these poems have interpreted, de-codified and translated O’Keeffe’s subjects, expanding her art and nourishing her legacy. By borrowing the term radicant from art scholar Nicolas Bourriaud, it seeks to capture the essence of O’Keeffe as an artist who approached art in heterogeneous contexts and formats, transplanting and sharing new creative behaviours.

After an introduction to the development of ekphrastic writing, and a summary of the principal aesthetic and critical theories that deal with the intriguing intersections between visual and verbal media, the book provokes reflection on the reasons why O’Keeffe often showed reticence towards the world of words. Subsequent chapters analyse the extent to which poetry prompted by O’Keeffe’s paintings provides not only accurate and eulogistic descriptions of her art but also an encounter between media that expand the interpretation of her art. The book confirms that in visual art as well as in poetry, the shared process of selecting and emphasizing helps artists get at the essence of things and, thus, disentangle the complicated facets of existence.

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Edgar Allan Poe

Amateur Psychologist

Brett Zimmerman

Edgar Allan Poe: Amateur Psychologist is the "first and foremost" major source of information dedicated to the theme of Poe and psychopathology. Its introduction, conclusion, chapters, and appendices highlight and employ the best insights from earlier and current scholars, but this text goes beyond them in its analysis of Poe’s relation to mainstream psychology and its rival system, phrenology. His knowledge of this subject matter is far broader and deeper than Poe specialists have hitherto supposed; his method—contrary to the "Poe myth" according to which an alcoholic, drug-addicted, tormented artist wrote to exorcise his own pathologies—was to research mental illnesses for the sake of scientific precision and verisimilitude. We also come to appreciate the interrelatedness of the psychopathologies he illustrates and other "knowledge frames," characteristic themes, featured in his tales, such as the occult, symbology, chromatography, the "cult of sensibility," Neoplatonism, and Transcendentalist epistemology. While locating Poe firmly within the science and pseudoscience of his time, Edgar Allan Poe: Amateur Psychologist simultaneously looks back from the 1830s and 40s (when Poe’s literary career was at its height) to theories and possible sources of information from the late eighteenth century, as well as forward to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to demonstrate how Poe’s theories of mind, and his depiction of psychological illnesses, occasionally anticipate modern insights and therapies. The book will be of interest not only to Poe scholars but also to students, teachers, and any intelligent reader interested in psychology, psychotherapy, and the history of ideas.

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Gerald Gillespie

This book examines how a long line of imaginative writers, starting from Rabelais and continuing over Cervantes and Sterne down to such modernists as Proust, Mann, Joyce, and Barth, has reaffirmed the picture of an enduring Western civilization despite repeated crises and transformations. The humanist capacity to recapture a sense of European greatness as exhibited in Antiquity was paralleled by and continued in the guise of newer vernacular works, achievements regarded as vital forms of a shared cultural rebirth.  This was amplified most notably in the tradition of the ironic encyclopedic novel which surveyed the state of successive phases of culture. The evolving heritage and revitalization of the arts constituted main subject matters in the series of major self-conscious epochal movements, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Modernism, which Postmodernism reflexively now struggles to supersede.  

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Cli-Fi

A Companion

Edited by Axel Goodbody and Adeline Johns-Putra

What is Cli-Fi?

Climate change fiction is a new literary phenomenon that emerged at the turn of the twenty-first century in response to what may be society’s greatest challenge. Climate change is already part responsible for extreme weather events, flooding, desertification and sea level rise, leading to famine, the spread of disease, and population displacement. Cli-fi novels and films are typically set in the future, telling of disaster and its effect on humans, or they depict the present, beset by dilemmas, conflicts or conspiracies, and pointing to grave consequences. At their heart are ethical and political questions: will humankind rise to the challenge of acting collectively, in the interest of the future? What sacrifices will be necessary, and is a green dictatorship our only hope for survival as a species?

Each chapter in this volume offers a way of reading a particular literary text or film, drawing attention to themes, formal features, reception, contribution to public debate, and issues for class discussion. Popular novels and films (Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capitol trilogy, Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, Ian McEwan’s Solar, and The Day after Tomorrow) are examined alongside lesser known writing (for instance J. G. Ballard’s «proto-climate change» novel The Drowned World and Antti Tuomainen’s Finnish thriller, The Healer), and films not generally thought of as being about climate change (Frozen and Take Shelter).

The book, which includes an introduction tracing the emergence and influence of cli-fi, is directed towards general readers and film enthusiasts as well as teachers and students. Written in an accessible style, it fills the gap between academic studies and online blogs, offering a comprehensive look at this timely new genre.