Shoes, gloves, umbrellas, cigars that are not just objects—the topic of fetishism seems both bizarre and inevitable. In this venturesome and provocative book, Emily Apter offers a fresh account of the complex relationship between representation and sexual obsession in turn-of-the-century French culture. Analyzing works by authors in the naturalist and realist traditions as well as making use of documents from a contemporary medical archive, she considers fetishism as a cultural artifact and as a subgenre of realist fiction. Apter traces the web of connections among fin-de-siècle representations of perversion, the fiction of pathology, and the literary case history. She explores in particular the theme of "female fetishism" in the context of the feminine culture of mourning, collecting, and dressing.
In an innovative and invigorating exploration of the complex relations between women and the modern, Rita Felski challenges conventional male-centered theories of modernity. She also calls into question those feminist perspectives that have either demonized the modern as inherently patriarchal, or else assumed a simple opposition between men's and women's experiences of the modern world. Combining cultural history with cultural theory, and focusing on the fin de siecle, Felski examines the gendered meanings of such notions as nostalgia, consumption, feminine writing, the popular sublime, evolution, revolution, and perversion. Her approach is comparative and interdisciplinary, covering a wide variety of texts from the English, French, and German traditions: sociological theory, realist and naturalist novels, decadent literature, political essays and speeches, sexological discourse, and sentimental popular fiction. Male and female writers from Simmel, Zola, Sacher-Masoch, and Rachilde to Marie Corelli, Wilde, and Olive Schreiner come under Felski's scrutiny as she exposes the varied and often contradictory connections between femininity and modernity. Seen through the lens of Felski's discerning eye, the last fin de siecle provides illuminating parallels with our own. And Felski's keen analysis of the matrix of modernism offers needed insight into the sense of cultural crisis brought on by postmodernism.
Author: Christie McDonald
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 2010-10-25
Genre: Literary Criticism
Recasting French literary history in terms of the cultures and peoples that interacted within and outside of France's national boundaries, this volume offers a new way of looking at the history of a national literature, along with a truly global and contemporary understanding of language, literature, and culture. The relationship between France's national territory and other regions of the world where French is spoken and written (most of them former colonies) has long been central to discussions of "Francophonie." Boldly expanding such discussions to the whole range of French literature, the essays in this volume explore spaces, mobilities, and multiplicities from the Middle Ages to today. They rethink literary history not in terms of national boundaries, as traditional literary histories have done, but in terms of a global paradigm that emphasizes border crossings and encounters with "others." Contributors offer new ways of reading canonical texts and considering other texts that are not part of the traditional canon. By emphasizing diverse conceptions of language, text, space, and nation, these essays establish a model approach that remains sensitive to the specificities of time and place and to the theoretical concerns informing the study of national literatures in the twenty-first century.
Brings into relief a critical relationship between the female mind and body that is essential to understanding the discursive position of the turn-of-the-century woman writer. This book includes novels that confront this mind/body problem through a wide variety of styles and genres that challenge conventional fin-de-siecle notions of femininity.
Author: Beth W. Gale
Publisher: Bucknell University Press
Release Date: 2010
Genre: Literary Criticism
This is the first book-length study of female adolescence in the French novel of this period. It analyzes representations of the "world apart" of female adolescence in selected novels from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the nineteenth century, several factors contributed to the shaping of a new social category for young women, which then gained increasing attention from writers. Art and life echoed one another, as novels about female adolescents created a social stir, and incited further discussion about the proper role for young women in French society. In this book, the author considers key novels of female adolescence from the period as a means of understanding the concerns and desires they embody. Examining these novels thematically and chronologically, Dr. Gale traces shifting social values and sexual roles and examines the ways in which various artistic, intellectual, or literary influences of each period shape its portraits of female adolescence. Novelists create their young female characters as French society undergoes parallel transformation. In this sense, female adolescents represent, for the novelists, the possible futures of France. Many of the novels analyzed in this study enjoyed mitigated success in France when they were first published, and are all but forgotten today. Societal conditions gave female writers secondary status and repressed the expression of subversive ideas regarding young women. These novels mark the birth of French interest in the documentation and shaping of young female experience through literature. Literary portrayals of the unique space of female adolescence reveal hopes and fears concerning the future, gender relations, social institutions, and a country's place in the world. This work will be particularly useful to scholars and students working on youth, coming-of-age novels, gender studies, cultural history, and/or French studies, but will also interest a general audience. It contributes to recent interest in adolescence by providing a pertinent cultural, historical, and literary perspective. The book covers relatively unexplored territory in French studies, but also creates links to related fields such as cultural studies, the history of women, and gender studies. A World Apart illuminates both the grounding of female adolescence in a specific historic and cultural setting and the timelessness of adolescence as a literary and social theme.
Author: Susan Hiner
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Release Date: 2011-06-06
Accessories to Modernity explores the ways in which feminine fashion accessories, such as cashmere shawls, parasols, fans, and handbags, became essential instruments in the bourgeois idealization of womanhood in nineteenth-century France. Considering how these fashionable objects were portrayed in fashion journals and illustrations, as well as fiction, the book explores the histories and cultural weight of the objects themselves and offers fresh readings of works by Balzac, Flaubert, and Zola, some of the most widely read novels of the period. As social boundaries were becoming more and more fluid in the nineteenth century, one effort to impose order over the looming confusion came, in the case of women, through fashion, and the fashion accessory thus became an ever more crucial tool through which social distinction could be created, projected, and maintained. Looking through the lens of fashion, Susan Hiner explores the interplay of imperialist expansion and domestic rituals, the assertion of privilege in the face of increasing social mobility, gendering practices and their relation to social hierarchies, and the rise of commodity culture and woman's paradoxical status as both consumer and object within it. Through her close focus on these luxury objects, Hiner reframes the feminine fashion accessory as a key symbol of modernity that bridges the erotic and proper, the domestic and exotic, and mass production and the work of art while making a larger claim about the "accessory" status—in terms of both complicity and subordination—of bourgeois women in nineteenth-century France. Women were not simply passive bystanders but rather were themselves accessories to the work of modernity from which they were ostensibly excluded.
Read The Chronicle of Higher Ed Author Interview In This Is Not a President, Diane Rubenstein looks at the postmodern presidency — from Reagan and George H. W. Bush, through the current administration, and including Hillary. Focusing on those seemingly inexplicable gaps or blind spots in recent American presidential politics, Rubenstein interrogates symptomatic moments in political rhetoric, popular culture, and presidential behavior to elucidate profound and disturbing changes in the American presidency and the way it embodies a national imaginary. In a series of essays written in real time over the past four presidential administrations, Rubenstein traces the vernacular use of the American presidency (as currency, as grist for popular biography, as fictional TV material) to explore the ways in which the American presidency functions as a “transitional object” that allows the American citizen to meet or discover the president while going about her everyday life. The book argues that it is French theory — primarily Lacanian psychoanalysis and the radical semiotic theories of Jean Baudrillard — that best accounts for American political life today. Through episodes as diverse as Iran Contra, George H. W. Bush vomiting in Japan, the 1992 Republican convention, the failed nomination of Lani Guinier, and the Iraq War, This Is Not a President brilliantly situates our collective investment in American political culture.
Performance and Cultural Politics is a groundbreaking collection of essays which explore the historical and cultural territories of performance, written by the foremost scholars in the field. The essays, exploring performance art, theatre, music and dance, range from Oscar Wilde to Eric Clapton; from the Rose Theatre to U.S. Holocaust museums. The topic includes: * Sex Play: Stereotype, Pose and Dildo * Grave Performances: The Cultural Politics of Memory * Genealogies: Critical Performances * Identity Politics: Passing, Carnival and the Law In the concluding section, `Performer's Performance', performance artist Robbie McCauley offers the practitioner's perspective on performance studies. Interdisciplinary, thought-provoking and rich in new ideas, Performance and Cultural Politics is a landmark in the emerging field of performance studies.
Author: Elaine Freedgood
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Release Date: 2010-10-15
Genre: Literary Criticism
Presents an analysis of nineteenth-century English fiction, focusing on objects found in three Victorian novels, arguing that these items have meanings the modern reader does not understand, but were clear to the Victorian reader.
In this highly original study, Gregory Downs argues that the most American of wars, the Civil War, created a seemingly un-American popular politics, rooted not in independence but in voluntary claims of dependence. Through an examination of the pleas and petitions of ordinary North Carolinians, Declarations of Dependence contends that the Civil War redirected, not destroyed, claims of dependence by exposing North Carolinians to the expansive but unsystematic power of Union and Confederate governments, and by loosening the legal ties that bound them to husbands, fathers, and masters. Faced with anarchy during the long reconstruction of government authority, people turned fervently to the government for protection and sustenance, pleading in fantastic, intimate ways for attention. This personalistic, or what Downs calls patronal, politics allowed for appeals from subordinate groups like freed blacks and poor whites, and also bound people emotionally to newly expanding postwar states. Downs's argument rewrites the history of the relationship between Americans and their governments, showing the deep roots of dependence, the complex impact of the Civil War upon popular politics, and the powerful role of Progressivism and segregation in submerging a politics of dependence that--in new form--rose again in the New Deal and persists today.
This volume explores the impact of sexological and early psychoanalytic conceptions of sexual perversion on the representation of the erotic in the work of a range of major European modernists (including Joyce, Kafka, Lawrence, Mann, Proust and Rilke) as well as in that of some less-well-known figures of the period such as Dujardin and Jahnn.
Author: Jean Walton
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Release Date: 2001-02-16
Genre: Social Science
In Fair Sex, Savage Dreams Jean Walton examines the work of early feminist psychoanalytic writing to decipher in it the unacknowledged yet foundational role of race. Focusing on the 1920s and 1930s, a time when white women were actively refashioning Freud’s problematic accounts of sexual subjectivity, Walton rereads in particular the writing of British analysts Joan Riviere and Melanie Klein, modernist poet H.D., the eccentric French analyst Marie Bonaparte, and anthropologist Margaret Mead. Charting the fantasies of racial difference in these women’s writings, Walton establishes that race—particularly during this period—was inseparable from accounts of gender and sexuality. While arguing that these women remained notably oblivious to the racial meanings embedded in their own attempts to rearticulate feminine sexuality, Walton uses these very blindspots to understand how race and sex are deeply imbricated in the constitution of subjectivity. Challenging the notion that subjects acquire gender identities in isolation from racial ones, she thus demonstrates how white-centered psychoanalytic theories have formed the basis for more contemporary feminist and queer explorations of fantasy, desire, power, and subjectivity. Fair Sex, Savage Dreams will appeal to scholars of psychoanalysis, literary and cinematic modernism, race studies, queer theory, feminist theory, and anthropology.