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Óscar Xavier Altamirano

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Xavier Kalck

Few poets have been as adamant about the uselessness of their art in the face of history as American poet George Oppen (1908–1984), and yet, few poets have been as viscerally convinced of the important role of the poem in restoring meaning to our words. Oppen came to maturity between two world wars, at the time of the Depression, and gave up poetry just when he had embraced it. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, his new work seemed to many poets and critics to represent the epitome of poetic virtue in dark times. Whereas Oppen wrote of the lost sense of the commonplace, his readers found in his poetry the means to reclaim the poet’s role within the community.
George Oppen’s Poetics of the Commonplace offers the first survey of the critical consensus which has now built up around the poetry of George Oppen, after over two decades of substantial interest in his work. It proposes a comprehensive perspective on Oppen and the criticism devoted to Oppen, from the Objectivist strain in American poetry to the thinkers, such as Heidegger, Levinas, Marx and Adorno, which critics have brought to bear on Oppen’s poetry, to pave the way for the consideration and exemplification of a new methodology which sheds a critical light on the ideas and practices in contemporary poetics, through well-researched close readings.
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Andrzej Slawomir Kowalczyk

This book is a cognitive-poetic study of the seven novels of Charles Williams (1886–1945), a British author of spiritual fiction and non-fiction, a poet, playwright and a literary critic. It approaches his multidimensional narratives with reference to cognitive phenomena and mechanisms such as the figure-ground organization, conceptual metaphors, conceptual blending, image schemata, scripts, cognitive narrative frames, narrative spaces, cognitive deixis, and empathy. The methodology not only stresses the role of the reader’s conceptual and emotional involvement in the building of the story-worlds, but also reveals the novels’ polyphonic character.

"This book is a convincing and thought-provoking study of Charles Williams’s fiction, which uncovers the unique, ambiguous senses of his works."

Prof. Grzegorz Maziarczyk,

The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland

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Towards a Cultura Franca

Contemporary American Civil and Human Rights Drama in the Foreign Language Classroom

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Jeannette Böttcher

This book is mapping the fields of modern output-oriented teaching, intercultural learning, and drama methods in the foreign language class. It explains that drama-based language learning transcends the usual learning scopes in its practical relevance and its far-reaching contextual implications. By including (inter-)cultural aspects, as well as human and civil rights issues, modern teaching can provide students with new frames of references and shifts their attention from an individualistic worldview towards a more tolerant perception of «the other.» The term of «cultura franca» hints at a liberation of cultural restraints and this is exactly what is indispensable in order to educate students to become the interculturally adept speakers our modern time needs.

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Tadeusz Pióro

This book is a comprehensive approach to interpreting Frank O’Hara’s highly influential work. Frank O’Hara’s poetry, initially inspired by the Modernist avant-garde, underwent a radical change around 1960. This change parallels the decline of Abstract Expressionism and the rise of Pop Art. The book includes historical contextualization as well as practical criticism. The author analyzes how Frank O’Hara could be regarded. As a Modernist poet, or as one who realizes that the aesthetic of High Modernism is on the wane, and is preparing himself for a paradigmatic change. Earlier poems are best seen as Modernist/ avant-gardist, while the later ones as no less vanguard forays into uncharted territory. While the book takes up issues such as mimeticism, realism and abstraction in both poetry and painting, the boredom of the new as seen by Walter Benjamin, and the representational potential of the camp aesthetic, the main emphasis is on practical criticism, modes of reading O’Hara’s œuvre.

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Ute Anna Mittermaier

This new study investigates how Spain was represented in Irish fiction, plays, poems, and travelogues written in a period covering the first five decades of Irish independence, as well as the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and the Franco dictatorship (1939–1975). These two countries situated at Europe’s western periphery followed a similar socio-political trajectory in the twentieth century, despite the crucial difference that democracy survived the civil war in Ireland, but not in Spain. Both De Valera’s Ireland and Franco’s Spain were marked by a Catholic conservative-nationalist state ideology and by economic, political, and cultural isolation throughout the 1940s and 1950s, but underwent a rapid process of modernization from the 1960s onwards. Against this historical background, and drawing on the useful theoretical concepts of imagology, the author analyses a variety of literary depictions of life in Spain and explores what the writers’ «hetero-images» of Spain reveal about their «auto-images» of Ireland. The book demonstrates how Irish writers used Spain and its troubles as a foil for Ireland, in order to comment obliquely on socio-political developments in their own country since the achievement of independence.

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Robert Butterworth

The trials Anne Brontë experienced in her lifetime left her with a deep interest in the psychology of suffering. This study, which considers both her novels and her poetry, focuses on the exploration of suffering in her work by examining her anatomisation of the trials her characters face and the strategies they deploy to cope with them. The novel Agnes Grey is read as a study of a woman working in circumstances in which her professionalism is unacknowledged and denied, while The Tenant of Wildfell Hall depicts an individual who is trapped in a deeply alien and uncongenial environment. Equally, struggles to face adversity, achieve happiness and find and retain religious faith form the subjects of her poetry. The book concludes by considering the common ground between Brontë’s heroines and their experiences and her overall views about how to confront life and its trials.

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Text in the Natural World

Topics in the Evolutionary Theory of Literature

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Laurence A. Gregorio

The study of literature has expanded to include an evolutionary perspective. Its premise is that the literary text and literature as an overarching institution came into existence as a product of the same evolutionary process that gave rise to the human species. In this view, literature is an evolutionary adaptation that functions as any other adaptation does, as a means of enhancing survivability and also promoting benefits for the individual and society. Text in the Natural World is an introduction to the theory and a survey of topics pertinent to the evolutionary view of literature. After a polemical, prefatory chapter and an overview of the pertinent aspects of evolutionary theory itself, the book examines integral building blocks of literature and literary expression as effects of evolutionary development. This includes chapters on moral sense, symbolic thought, literary aesthetics in general, literary ontology, the broad topic of form, function and device in literature, a last theoretical chapter on narrative, and a chapter on literary themes. The concluding chapter builds on the preceding one as an illustration of evolutionary thematic study in practice, in a study of the fauna in the fiction of Maupassant. This text is designed to be of interest to those who read and think about things literary, as well as to those who have interest in the extension of Darwin’s great idea across the horizon of human culture. It tries to bridge the gulf that has separated the humanities from the sciences, and would be a helpful text for courses taught in both literary theory and interdisciplinary approaches to literature and philosophy.

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Aaron Christopher Mitchell

The Beat Generation questioned mid-twentieth century America and sought the margins of society. This book analyzes the literature and lifestyles of the Beat authors Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg in regard to Victor Turner’s anthropological studies. The Beats separated from society by willingly entering the rites of passage. Liminal symbolism is apparent in their literature such as in movement, time, space, pilgrimages, and monstrosities. In their liminal stage, they established «communitas» and developed anti-structure. They questioned society and made proposals to change it in their liminoid literature. The Beats shared similarities with previous countercultures, and they influenced the following Hippie Generation.

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The Mind's Isle

Imaginary Islands in English Fiction

Adrian Kempton

Taking as its point of departure The Odyssey, Plato’s account of Atlantis and The Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor, this book examines the profound influence of these works on the development of island fiction as a genre specific to English literature. Close readings of island fictions from the past four centuries reveal the many ways in which they adapt, rewrite and refer back to these foundational texts, forming an important and intriguing literary tradition. Examples of the genre include such universal classics as Utopia, The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Treasure Island and Lord of the Flies.

Islands have always attracted travellers, writers and dreamers. This book leads the reader on a voyage of exploration to understand exactly what lies behind the island’s powerful appeal to the literary imagination. Along the way, it explores the cultural and historical background to Britain’s island status and its legacy of colonialism and imperialism.