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robertogreco : edgarallanpoe   5

Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
General Vagaries. • winchysteria: ossacordis: crockpotcauldron: ...
"there’s something endlessly hilarious to me about the phrase “hotly debated” in an academic context. like i just picture a bunch of nerds at podiums & one’s like “of course there was a paleolithic bear cult in Northern Eurasia” and another one just looks him in the eye and says “i’l kill you in real life, kevin”

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[image

"The Milton scholars screamed and argued about how the serpent was supposed to move before it crawled on its belly. Dr. Matthews, enraged that Dr. Goldstein could believe the serpent bounced around on the coiled end of its tail, flipped over the conference table. "Satan is not a fucking pogo stick!" he howled."]

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I heard a story once about two microbiologists at a conference who took it out into the parking lot to have a literal fistfight over taxonomy.

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have i told this story yet? idk but it’s good. The Orangutan Story:

my american lit professor went to this poe conference. like to be clear this is a man who has a doctorate in being a book nerd. he reads moby dick to his four-year-old son. and poe is one of the cornerstones of american literature, right, so this should be right up his alley?

wrong. apparently poe scholars are like, advanced. there is a branch of edgar allen poe scholarship that specifically looks for coded messages based on the number of words per line and letters per word poe uses. my professor, who has a phd in american literature, realizes he is totally out of his depth. but he already committed his day to this so he thinks fuck it! and goes to a panel on racism in poe’s works, because that’s relevant to his interests.

background info: edgar allen poe was a broke white alcoholic from virginia who wrote horror in the first half of the 19th century. rule 1 of Horror Academia is that horror reflects the cultural anxieties of its time (see: my other professor’s sermon abt how zombie stories are popular when people are scared of immigrants, or that purge movie that was literally abt the election). since poe’s shit is a product of 1800s white southern culture, you can safely assume it’s at least a little about race. but the racial subtext is very open to interpretation, and scholars believe all kinds of different things about what poe says about race (if he says anything), and the poe stans get extremely tense about it.

so my professor sits down to watch this panel and within like five minutes a bunch of crusty academics get super heated about poe’s theoretical racism. because it’s academia, though, this is limited to poorly concealed passive aggression and forceful tones of inside voice. one professor is like “this isn’t even about race!” and another professor is like “this proves he’s a racist!” people are interrupting each other. tensions are rising. a panelist starts saying that poe is like writing a critique of how racist society was, and the racist stuff is there to prove that racism is stupid, and that on a metaphorical level the racist philosophy always loses—

then my professor, perhaps in a bid to prove that he too is a smart literature person, loudly calls: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGUTAN?”

some more background: in poe’s well-known short story “the murder in the rue morgue,” two single ladies—a lovely old woman and her lovely daughter who takes care of her, aka super vulnerable and respectable people—are violently killed. the murderer turns out to be not a person, but an orangutan brought back by a sailor who went to like burma or something. and it’s pretty goddamn racially coded, like they reeeeally focus on all this stuff about coarse hairs and big hands and superhuman strength and chattering that sounds like people talking but isn’t actually. if that’s intentional, then he’s literally written an analogy about how black people are a threat to vulnerable white women, which is classic white supremacist shit. BUT if he really only meant for it to be an orangutan, then it’s a whole other metaphor about how colonialism pillages other countries and brings their wealth back to europe and that’s REALLY gonna bite them in the ass one day. klansman or komrade? it all hangs on this.

so the place goes dead fucking silent as every giant ass poe stan in the room is immediately thrust into a series of war flashbacks: the orangutan argument, violently carried out over seminar tables, in literary journals, at graduate student house parties, the spittle flying, the wine and coffee spilled, the friendships torn—the red faces and bulging veins—curses thrown and teaching posts abandoned—panels just like this one fallen into chaos—distant sirens, skies falling, the dog-eared norton critical editions slicing through the air like sabres—the textual support! o, the quotes! they gaze at this madman in numb disbelief, but he could not have known. nay, he was a literary theorist, a 17th-century man, only a visitor to their haunted land. he had never heard the whistle of the mortars overhead. he had never felt the cold earth under his cheek as he prayed for god’s deliverance. and yet he would have broken their fragile peace and brought them all back into the trenches.

much later, when my professor told this story to a poe nerd friend, the guy said the orangutan thing was a one of the biggest landmines in their field. he said it was a reliable discussion ruiner that had started so many shouting matches that some conferences had an actual ban on bringing it up.

so my professor sits there for a second, still totally clueless. then out of the dead silence, the panel moderator stands up in his tweed jacket and yells, with the raw panic of a once-broken man:

WE! DO NOT! TALK ABOUT! THE ORANGUTAN!"
conferences  via:robinsonmeyer  2018  academia  arguments  debate  humor  orangutans  racism  disagreement  rules  taxonomy  johnmilton  edgarallanpoe  serpents  highered  highereducation  education 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Works Cited: Wasting time on the internet: a syllabus
"This is a syllabus in progress, imagined as part writing workshop, part American studies course on aesthetics. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

What I Did For Love: Taste, Evaluation, and Aesthetics in American Culture

“I don’t know art, but I know what I like,” goes the disclaimer. In this writing-intensive part-workshop, part-seminar, we will seek to unpack the relationship between “art” and “what I like” by examining a variety of cultural objects together with accounts of “taste.” What are the uses of an art that nobody likes? Could “annoyance” be an aesthetic principle? What is the role of money in taste? What are the ethics of aesthetics? Under what circumstances is an aesthetic pleasure “guilty”? When should the appreciation of art works be a matter of disinterested judgment, and when a matter of passionate engagement? Does “love” blind? What is the difference between a “fan” and a “critic”? What are the affordances and limits of the “formulaic” and the “generic”?

Four weeks of this course will be devoted to workshopping students’ critical writing, examining the roles of description, praise, blame, analysis, and enthusiasm in writing about culture. Students will also maintain a course blog. For the final assignment, students are encouraged to pitch their writing to an appropriately chosen publication.



Short exercise: choose a cultural object to describe as plainly as possible. About 500 words.



Essay 1: Describe some piece of culture (novel, film, painting, poem, music video, etc.) that you love, and that you also think is good. (These are two different things.) Explain why it is that you love the piece, what it is that makes it good, and how you can tell the difference (and under what circumstances you can’t). Be sure to explain what it is that makes art good in general—you don’t need to advance a fully developed theory of aesthetics, but you do need to unpack your assumptions as much as you can. Have an argument. This should be around 3000 words.



Short exercise: write a piece of fanfiction, about 1000 words, in the setting of your choice.



Short exercise: Make the case that some cultural object is a “remake” of another, earlier one (for example, that Pixar’s Toy Story is a remake of Disney’s Pinocchio). Be honest about the ways in which the claim does not hold up. In addition to noting similarities or lines of influence, you should explain what we gain from understanding the later object as a remake of the earlier one. 500–1,000 words.



Essay 2: Choose a piece of art and viciously pan it. Your critique should be utterly devastating, which is to say that you should be able to persuade your reader that this piece is a blight on humanity, and not merely that you are a mean-spirited person. This will be more effective if you resist choosing an easy target. 2,000–3,000 words.



Essay 3: Review some piece of culture that was recently produced—say, since January 2012. Give your reader a fairly thickly textured sense of what this piece is like, and explain what its successes and failures are. Once again, be sure to unpack what it means for something to “succeed” (in any register). What is the historical, cultural, or aesthetic milieu in which this piece is ideally legible? Make a point. This should be around 3,000 words.



Essay 4: Revise your review for publication in a venue of your choice. It may be print or online. When you submit this assignment to me, you should also submit a copy of the submission guidelines for this venue (to which your revised review should adhere) and a rationale (about 500 words) for choosing this publication. You are encouraged to actually submit the review to the publication you have chosen. (You might be interested in this [http://whopays.tumblr.com/ ].)"
nataliacecire  culture  internet  web  reading  2013  johnkeats  robertfrost  petercoviello  aesthetics  beauty  guiltypleasures  thomasnagel  judgement  clementgreenberg  pierrebordieu  thorsteinveblen  barbarahernsteinsmith  tseliot  andrewlloydwebber  thewasteland  taste  class  williambutleryeats  josefalbers  difficulty  mariannemoore  siannengai  leonarddiepeveen  lawrencelevine  rosalindkrauss  popculutre  authenticity  criticism  gender  chinuaahcebe  appropriation  music  williamgibson  cuteness  commodification  marktwain  edgarallanpoe  lililoofbourow  christianbök  walterbenjamin  maryoliver  writing  syllabus  classideas  highbrow  lowbrow  kant  syllabi 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Ira Glass - By the Book - NYTimes.com
"People who call reading detective fiction or eating dessert a guilty pleasure make me want to puke."

"Do you have a favorite character or hero from children’s literature?

Hermione. Harry Potter to me is a bore. His talent arrives as a gift; he’s chosen. Who can identify with that? But Hermione — she’s working harder than anyone, she’s half outsider, right? Half Muggle. She shouldn’t be there at all. It’s so unfair that Harry’s the star of the books, given how hard she worked to get her powers."

"You studied semiotics at Brown. How has that informed the way you read novels?

I don’t read novels, but my semiotics study influenced everything about the way I read and edit and write.

But the fact is, I don’t read many books. I’m in production year round. I work long hours, I have a dog and a wife. There’s not a lot of available time for consuming any culture: TV, movies, books. When I read, it’s generally magazines, newspapers and Web sites."
edgarallanpoe  storytelling  howwework  howweread  outsiders  harrypotter  pleasure  reading  books  iraglass  outsider 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Will Self: Walking is political | Books | The Guardian
"A century ago, 90% of Londoners' journeys under six miles were made on foot. Now we are alienated from the physical reality of our cities. Will Self on the importance of walking in the fight against corporate control"

"Borges's animals and beggars are those who still seek the disciplines of physical geography – we understand that to walk the city and its environs is, in a very powerful sense, to use it. The contemporary flâneur is by nature and inclination a democratising force who seeks equality of access, freedom of movement and the dissolution of corporate and state control."
humanconnection  humanconnectivity  connectivity  human  society  indifference  friedrichengels  gps  london  thomasdequincey  moritzretszch  edgarallanpoe  wandering  wanderlust  rebeccasolnit  epicurus  thecityishereforyoutouse  geography  democracy  freedomofmovement  freedom  access  movement  flaneur  borges  cities  place  space  limitedspace  psychogeography  urbanism  urban  transportation  control  corporatism  willself  2012  walking 
april 2012 by robertogreco

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