This essay reinterprets the social, sexual, and gendered meanings of Helena’s climactic moment of healing in All’s Well That Ends Well by situating the play within the early modern recipe world of letters. Just as importantly, it positions All’s Well so as to illuminate the intellectual and cultural stakes of recipe writing in the period. Shakespeare’s story of a woman’s powerful recipe, I argue, emerges within the discourse of seasoning, an intellectual matrix that entailed reflection on the human management of organic matter in and through time. In its articulation of seasoning, the recipe archive allows us to explore domestic determinations in the play’s critically noted features: its probing of eroticism and gender ideology, its construction of proof, and its concern with the conundrums of temporality.
How did writers in Maoist China assume their role as authors, torn between self-expression and the political demands of the Party? How should we read the literary creations produced at a time in which literary works were not always candid expressions of the authors, but were manifestations of complex negotiations and self-censorship? This chapter provides a case study to illustrate these quandaries, focusing specifically on Tian Han’s historical dramas produced during the late 1950s. It illustrate how Tian Han tried to use historical and intercultural allegories to come to terms with contemporary happenings and offers an analysis of a rarely studied but extremely representative work, Princess Wencheng, that embodies the struggles of the Party and the Han intellectuals with the Tibetan problems during that time.
This article focuses on Spenserian allegory. Comparable to Dante in his importance for allegory, Spenser creatively expanded its potential throughout his literary life. But the experimental vigor of his endeavor is too little acknowledged. While assimilating and building on medieval precedents, the poet's engagement with allegory subsumed diverse influences from the ancients to his own contemporaries in a unique new formulation. The consummate expression of Spenser's allegorical poetic, The Faerie Queene samples and redevelops myriad literary and other texts, forms, and discourses to manifest its own poetic world. Few books read like no others, and this poem's profound allegorism ensures it is one of them.
Beginning with an examination of some of the ways in which allusion was conceptualized in the eighteenth century, this chapter focuses on verbal literary allusion, which exists on the allusive spectrum between frank plagiarism at the one extreme and echo at the other. Close reading of poems by Alexander Pope (the different versions of the Dunciad), William Collins (“Ode on the Poetical Character”), and Thomas Gray (“Ode on the Spring” and “The Progress of Poesy”) demonstrates some ways in which eighteenth-century poets used the figure of allusion to articulate meaning, and to negotiate the writer’s relation with poetic contemporaries and forebears. Allusion tests the reader’s powers of recognition and invites the reader’s participation; this chapter explores some opportunities for poetic obfuscation or clarification that the trope offered to both satiric and lyric authors, and some possibilities and implications of the poet’s, or editor’s, or poet-editor’s explanatory and interpretative commentary.
Tsai Ming-liang’s 1997 film The River features one of the most challenging scenes in contemporary Chinese cinema: a graphically sexual encounter in a dark bathhouse between two men who belatedly recognize each other as father and son. This chapter uses an analysis of the dialectics of desire and alienation that drives this scene to reexamine some of the implications of cinematic suture—both as it is deployed in this particular film, and also more broadly as a metaphor for the relationship between viewers and a general field of cinematic production.
This essay considers a reconfiguring of the sublime in British poetry of the 1970s and 1980s that coincides with theoretical activity around the ways in which the concept of the sublime is renewed and diversified. While Fredric Jameson calls for ‘cognitive mapping’ in cultural practice, to induce in the reader a sense of her or his place in what is nothing less than a global system, Jean-François Lyotard supplies a counter-argument to Jameson’s emphasis on the cognitive, proposing an aesthetic experience in which the activity of the imagination necessarily exceeds that of the understanding, so that the ‘mapping’ which occurs extends the territory of the mind beyond that of individual cognition. Tom Raworth’s poem ‘West Wind’ takes as its reference points those two pejorative instances of the sublime proposed by postmodernist theory—global communications networks and the threat of the nuclear bomb—but links these to a mentality capable only of producing a concept of the imagination while remaining incapable of activating and exercising the imagination. Andrew Crozier’s ‘The Veil Poem’ focuses on architectural terminology, and on the conditions of ‘dwelling’ that articulate its spatial and temporal dimensions, moving towards an exploration of the altered sublime that is carried further in J. H. Prynne’s ‘The Oval Window’.
This essay pursues the multiple and contradictory meanings of the signifier ‘Tartar’ in Elizabethan drama by parsing how its classical and historical referents were mapped onto the ‘trouble’ associated with gendered and racialized embodiment in the period, which was further mapped onto the early Anglo–Islamic encounter. It focuses on the imbricated series of cultural performances that constituted the 1594–5 Christmas revels at Gray’s Inn, subsequently published as the Gesta Grayorum: the semi-parodic allegory of the Prince of Purpoole and ‘an Ambassador from the mighty Emperor of Russia and Moscovy’; the madcap premier of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors; and the Masque of Proteus, with Queen Elizabeth in the audience. In assessing the patriarchal web of empire indexed by the Gesta Grayorum, this essay foregrounds the fraught historical embodiment of subaltern women from the Islamic world in Elizabethan England and their neglected, albeit constitutive role in its literature, including Shakespeare’s plays.
Ambivalence and Contradiction in Contemporary Maya Literature from Yucatan: Jorge Cocom Pech’s Muk’ult’an in Nool (Grandfather’s Secrets)
Emilio del Valle Escalante
Since the 1980s, Mayas in the Yucatan Peninsula have produced a literary canon that seeks to distance itself from Indigenismo, or literature about the indigenous world by non-Indians. This literary canon, which ranges from poetry to theater, songs, prayers, narrative, testimonies, and legends, is an attempt on the part of the Mayas to affirm and establish their own literary and cultural authority. This chapter examines the origins of contemporary Maya literature in the Yucatan Peninsula, focusing on Jorge Cocom Pech’s 1997 autobiographical account Muk’ult’an in Nool (Grandfather’s Secrets). It looks at the book’s critique of modernity, as well as its affirmation of Maya cultural identity and indigenous knowledge. It also discusses the ambiguities and contradictions in Cocom Pech’s work, which favors a patriarchal Maya order that ignores the contribution of indigenous women.
This article discusses the American constitutional elegy. It argues that American national difference in literature can be tracked in the terms of its engagement with specifically American constitutional principles, concentrating on the national period, beginning in the late eighteenth century with the Revolutionary War and sketching the story up to the present day. It then returns to the great theme of elegy as a flexible form and its practices under persistent self-scrutiny. All choral poetry carries with it an association with the choruses of ancient, especially Athenian, tragedy and thus with the common understanding that the chorus speaks as or on behalf of a democratic citizenry. Marilyn Hacker has written a ‘constitutional elegy’ in the great American tradition, a tradition that continues to challenge our principled commitment to the legal and symbolic bonds of ‘adjacent difference’ in a rights-based national polity.
Robert Dale Parker
Scholars and readers of American poetry in general and American Indian poetry in particular generally assume that American Indian poetry begins in the late 1960s with the American Indian Renaissance. Even among scholars of American Indian literature, let alone scholars of American poetry in general, few readers can name more than, at most, a few American Indian poets before N. Scott Momaday. But indigenous people in what is now the United States have written poetry since the time of Anne Bradstreet, and the 1890s and the early twentieth century brought an effusion of Indian-written poetry. Poems by more than ninety different American Indians writing from 1900 to 1930 have been found. The anthology Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930 showcases the work of eighty-three poets and provides a bibliography that lists almost 150 Indian poets up to 1930. While Indian poets wrote about the same range of topics as non-Indian poets, they also brought their interests and experiences as Indians to bear on their poems. This article discusses how these poems address colonialism and the federal government, land, the condition of the world in general, nature, Christianity, love, war, other Indian peoples, and the temptation to internalize anti-Indian ways of thinking.