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The Power of Smell in American Literature

Odor, Affect, and Social Inequality

by Daniela Babilon (Author)
Thesis 335 Pages
Series: Mainzer Studien zur Amerikanistik , Volume 69

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • List of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Part I
  • 1 Odor and Order: Theoretical Frameworks
  • 1.1 ‘Us’ vs. ‘Them?’ The Concepts of Otherness and Hybridity
  • 1.2 ‘The Others’ Other:’ Intersectionality Theory
  • 1.3 Affect Theory
  • 1.4 Abject Theory
  • 1.5 Smell: Facets and Features
  • Part II
  • 2 Uniting and Dividing Scents: Early Western Smell Conceptions and Stereotypes
  • 2.1 Antiquity and Social Smells: A Hierarchy of the Senses
  • 2.2 The Devaluation of Smell vs. the ‘Odor of Sanctity:’ Early Christianity
  • 2.3 Pure Aromas and Puritan Literature
  • 2.4 Vulgar and Sarcastic Stenches in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
  • 2.5 ‘Olfactory Revolutions:’ The Increasing Fear of the ‘Odor of the Other’
  • 3 The ‘Odor of Race:’ Abjection and Subversion in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Slave Narratives
  • 3.1 The ‘Black Smell Stereotype’
  • 3.2 Subversive Re-Writes and Cunning Counter-Discourses: Selected Slave Narratives
  • 3.3 Sniffing Out Blackness
  • 4 From the Depreciation of Smell to Its Subversive Embrace: Transcendentalism and the American Renaissance
  • 4.1 Scent and Transcendence: Odor Allusions in Transcendentalism
  • 4.2 The Odor of Poverty and the Concept of the Individual
  • 4.3 The Sensory-Corporeal and the Unfathomable-Transcendental: Melville’s and Whitman’s References to Smell
  • 4.3.1 Fragrant Spermaceti: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick
  • 4.3.2 “Wafted with the Odor of His Body or Breath:” Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”
  • 4.4 The Cultural Devalorization of Odor: Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory of Disease
  • 5 Olfactory Realities: Smell Representations in Selected Texts from the Civil War to World War I
  • 5.1 The Odor of the Real: The Sense of Smell in Realism
  • 5.2 The Motif of Smell and Its Socio-Critical Impetus: Realism’s Olfactory Silence vs. Naturalism’s ‘Smelly’ Critique
  • 5.2.1 Social Rank, Rank Odors: Rebecca Harding Davis’s Life in the Iron-Mills
  • 5.2.2 Overpowering Odors: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
  • 5.3 Scents Classed and Gendered: Regionalism and the Motif of Smell in Mary Wilkins Freeman’s Short Fiction
  • 6 Form, Liminality, and Destabilization: The Motif of Smell in Exemplary Modernist Texts
  • 6.1 “Smelling the Woman Smelling the Negro All at Once:” William Faulkner’s Light in August
  • 6.1.1 Faulkner’s South and White Hegemonic Masculinity
  • 6.1.2 A ‘Pinkwomansmelling Obscurity:’ Smell and Gender
  • 6.1.3 Smell and Racial Otherness: Blackness, Whiteness, and ‘Inbetween-ness’
  • 6.1.4 Smelling the Black Female: Intersectionality
  • 6.1.5 Ambiguity Remains
  • 6.2 “Like the Smell of Modern Progress:” Social Stench and Sexual Scents in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn
  • 6.2.1 The American Horror
  • 6.2.2 “Murder the World in Order to Save It:” The Healing Potential of Death and Destruction
  • 6.2.3 Whiteness and the Stink of Immaculacy
  • 6.2.4 The Odor of Naturalness vs. the Smell of Modern Progress
  • 6.3 “You Could Smell His Skin Burning:” White Terror in Ralph Ellison’s “A Party Down at the Square”
  • 7 ‘Unreal Realities:’ Smell in Postmodern/Postcolonial Trauma Narratives
  • 7.1 Postmodernism, Postcolonialism, and Smell
  • 7.2 Trauma
  • 7.3 Trauma, Postmodernism/Postcolonialism, and Smell
  • 7.4 Magical Realism, Trauma, and Smell
  • 7.5 Smelling Doom: Magical Aromas in Toni Morrison’s Beloved
  • 7.5.1 Rememories and the Representation of Traumatic Return
  • 7.5.2 Representing Felt Reality in the Context of Trauma: Magical Realist Foreshadowings
  • 7.5.3 The Power of Affect and the Reclamation of the Black Body
  • 7.6 “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide:” John Edgar Wideman’s Philadelphia Fire
  • 7.6.1 “This Funk Is Mine:” Subversive Funkiness
  • 7.6.2 City Miasmas and the Affective Presence of the Past
  • 7.6.3 The Transgressiveness of Smell
  • Part III
  • 8 Sensory Entanglements: Smell and Synesthesia
  • 8.1 Directionality, Accessibility, and Elusiveness: The Sense of Smell in Synesthesia
  • 8.2 Linguistic Representations of Smell through Synesthesia: Transfers onto Smell
  • 9 The ‘Olfactory-Verbal Gap:’ Literary Strategies to Describe Aromas
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited

Daniela Babilon

The Power of Smell
in American Literature

Odor, Affect, and Social Inequality

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About the author

Daniela Babilon studied English and Art at the Universities of Paderborn (Germany) and Aberdeen (Scotland), and graduated with a PhD in American Literature. Her research interests include (post)modern literature, intersectionality theory, and the didactics of English.

About the book

Offering a thoroughly new approach to American literature, this book examines the literary representation of smell regarding its impact on establishing and subverting power structures. Although smell carries an enormous affective potential, it has been largely—but unjustly—overlooked in literary and cultural studies. Through her innovative close readings of works by authors such as Melville, Whitman, Equiano, Wilkins Freeman, Faulkner, Morrison, or Ellison, the author shows how smell stereotypes are used to discriminate against people and how odor references serve to undermine oppressive power structures. For this purpose, the author traces the cultural history of odor and combines insights from fields such as critical race, gender, intersectionality, trauma, and affect theories.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

List of Contents

Acknowledgements

Introduction

Part I

1 Odor and Order: Theoretical Frameworks

1.1 ‘Us’ vs. ‘Them?’ The Concepts of Otherness and Hybridity

1.2 ‘The Others’ Other:’ Intersectionality Theory

1.3 Affect Theory

1.4 Abject Theory

1.5 Smell: Facets and Features

Part II

2 Uniting and Dividing Scents: Early Western Smell Conceptions and Stereotypes

2.1 Antiquity and Social Smells: A Hierarchy of the Senses

2.2 The Devaluation of Smell vs. the ‘Odor of Sanctity:’
Early Christianity

2.3 Pure Aromas and Puritan Literature

2.4 Vulgar and Sarcastic Stenches in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

2.5 ‘Olfactory Revolutions:’ The Increasing Fear of
the ‘Odor of the Other’

3 The ‘Odor of Race:’ Abjection and Subversion in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Slave Narratives

3.1 The ‘Black Smell Stereotype’

3.2 Subversive Re-Writes and Cunning Counter-Discourses:
Selected Slave Narratives

3.3 Sniffing Out Blackness←5 | 6→

4 From the Depreciation of Smell to Its Subversive Embrace: Transcendentalism and the American Renaissance

4.1 Scent and Transcendence: Odor Allusions in Transcendentalism

4.2 The Odor of Poverty and the Concept of the Individual

4.3 The Sensory-Corporeal and the Unfathomable-Transcendental: Melville’s and Whitman’s References to Smell

4.3.1 Fragrant Spermaceti: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

4.3.2 “Wafted with the Odor of His Body or Breath:” Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”

4.4 The Cultural Devalorization of Odor: Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory of Disease

5 Olfactory Realities: Smell Representations in
Selected Texts from the Civil War to World War I

5.1 The Odor of the Real: The Sense of Smell in Realism

5.2 The Motif of Smell and Its Socio-Critical Impetus: Realism’s Olfactory Silence vs. Naturalism’s ‘Smelly’ Critique

5.2.1 Social Rank, Rank Odors: Rebecca Harding Davis’s Life in
the Iron-Mills

5.2.2 Overpowering Odors: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle

5.3 Scents Classed and Gendered: Regionalism and the Motif of Smell in Mary Wilkins Freeman’s Short Fiction

6 Form, Liminality, and Destabilization: The Motif of Smell in Exemplary Modernist Texts

6.1 “Smelling the Woman Smelling the Negro All at Once:”
William Faulkner’s Light in August

6.1.1 Faulkner’s South and White Hegemonic Masculinity

6.1.2 A ‘Pinkwomansmelling Obscurity:’ Smell and Gender

6.1.3 Smell and Racial Otherness: Blackness, Whiteness, and ‘Inbetween-ness’←6 | 7→

6.1.4 Smelling the Black Female: Intersectionality

6.1.5 Ambiguity Remains

6.2 “Like the Smell of Modern Progress:” Social Stench and
Sexual Scents in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn

6.2.1 The American Horror

6.2.2 “Murder the World in Order to Save It:” The Healing Potential of Death and Destruction

6.2.3 Whiteness and the Stink of Immaculacy

6.2.4 The Odor of Naturalness vs. the Smell of Modern Progress

6.3 “You Could Smell His Skin Burning:” White Terror in
Ralph Ellison’s “A Party Down at the Square”

7 ‘Unreal Realities:’ Smell in Postmodern/Postcolonial Trauma Narratives

7.1 Postmodernism, Postcolonialism, and Smell

7.2 Trauma

7.3 Trauma, Postmodernism/Postcolonialism, and Smell

7.4 Magical Realism, Trauma, and Smell

7.5 Smelling Doom: Magical Aromas in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

7.5.1 Rememories and the Representation of Traumatic Return

7.5.2 Representing Felt Reality in the Context of Trauma:
Magical Realist Foreshadowings

7.5.3 The Power of Affect and the Reclamation of the Black Body

7.6 “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide:” John Edgar Wideman’s Philadelphia Fire

7.6.1 “This Funk Is Mine:” Subversive Funkiness

Details

Pages
335
ISBN (PDF)
9783653072327
ISBN (ePUB)
9783631708057
ISBN (MOBI)
9783631708064
ISBN (Book)
9783631681084
Language
English
Publication date
2017 (January)
Tags
Critical Race Studies Gender Studies Inetrsectionality Trauma Magical Realism American Culture
Published
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 335 pp.

Biographical notes

Daniela Babilon (Author)

Daniela Babilon studied English and Art at the Universities of Paderborn (Germany) and Aberdeen (Scotland), and graduated with a PhD in American Literature. Her research interests include (post)modern literature, intersectionality theory, and the didactics of English.

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Title: The Power of Smell in American Literature