Psychoanalysis and Narrative Obsession in Turn-of-the Century France
Author: Emily Apter
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Category: Literary Criticism
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.
Fashion and the Feminine in Nineteenth-Century France
Author: Susan Hiner
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
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.
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.
"This brilliant and timely collection takes us far in documenting the complex intrapsychic worlds and intersubjective relations of race, gender, and culture. Questions concerning how race and ethnicity create and refract unconscious fantasy and self-construction must be at the forefront of contemporary psychoanalytic thinking."--Nancy J. Chodorow, author of The Reproduction of Mothering "Bold. Daring. Provocative. This collection of essays emphatically demonstrates that rhetorical meaning, constituted in the text and the world, evolves from mediations of the psychical and the material, the personal and the social. The critical models displayed so forcefully here will not only influence psychoanalytic and feminist discourses but literary and cultural studies as well."--Claudia Tate, George Washington University
Nineteenth-century French Realism focuses on metropolitan France, with Paris as its undisputed heart. Through Jennifer Yee's close reading of the great novelists of the French realist and naturalist canon - Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, Maupassant - The Colonial Comedy reveals that the colonies play a role at a distance even in the most apparently metropolitan texts. In what Edward Said called 'geographical notations' of race and imperialism the presence of the colonies off-stage is apparent as imported objects, colonial merchandise, and individuals whose colonial experience is transformative. Indeed, the realist novel registers the presence of the emerging global world-system through networks of importation, financial speculation, and immigration as well as direct colonial violence and power structures. The literature of the century responds to the last decades of French slavery, and direct colonialism (notably in Algeria), but also economic imperialism and the extension of French influence elsewhere. Far from imperialist triumphalism, in the realist novel exotic objects are portrayed as fake or mass-produced for the growing bourgeois market, while economic imperialism is associated with fraud and manipulation. The deliberate contrast of colonialism and exoticism within the metropolitan novel, and ironic distancing of colonial narratives, reveal the realist mode to be capable of questioning its own epistemological basis. The Colonial Comedy argues for the existence in the nineteenth century of a Critical Orientalism characterized by critique of its own discursive foundations. Using the tools of literary analysis within a materialist approach, The Colonial Comedy opens up the domestic Paris-Provinces axis to signifying chains pointing towards the colonial space.
Sense, Nonsense, and the American Political Imaginary
Author: Diane Rubenstein
Publisher: NYU Press
Category: Literary Criticism
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.
What role do objects play in realist narratives as they move between societies and their different systems of value as commodities, as charms, as gifts, as trophies, or as curses? This book explores how the struggle to represent objects in British colonial realism corresponded with historical struggles over the material world and its significance.
A struggle between narcissistic and masochistic modes of manhood defined Hollywood masculinity in the period between the presidencies of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. David Greven's contention is that a profound shift in representation occurred during the early 1990s when Hollywood was transformed by an explosion of films that foregrounded non-normative gendered identity and sexualities. In the years that have followed, popular cinema has either emulated or evaded the representational strategies of this era, especially in terms of gender and sexuality. One major focus of this study is that, in a great deal of the criticism in both the fields of film theory and queer theory, masochism has been positively cast as a form of male sexuality that resists the structures of normative power, while narcissism has been negatively cast as either a regressive sexuality or the bastion of white male privilege. Greven argues that narcissism is a potentially radical mode of male sexuality that can defy normative codes and categories of gender, whereas masochism, far from being radical, has emerged as the default mode of a traditional normative masculinity. This study combines approaches from a variety of disciplines—psychoanalysis, queer theory, American studies, men's studies, and film theory—as it offers fresh readings of several important films of the past twenty years, including Casualties of War, The Silence of the Lambs, Fight Club, The Passion of the Christ, Auto Focus, andBrokeback Mountain.
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.