DepositThe shortest species: how the length of Russian poetry changed (1750–1921)

The paper studies long-term changes in the length of Russian poetry (1750–1921) to reveal the relation of poem length (counted in lines) to a poetic form and its evolution. The research has shown a dramatic decrease in the mean and median poetry lengths during the 19th century. This decrease was followed by the decline in length diversity, which resulted in short poems (8–20 lines) overpopulating the literature during the age of Modernism. We argue that this transformation towards the short form could be understood in the framework of cultural evolution: Russian poetry struggled to keep its literary niche, while being continuously under the pressure of successful large narratives of the 19th century. Therefore, it was forced to develop complexity while being highly constrained formally (accentual-syllabic verse and rhyme maintained for a long time) by the shrunk length of a lyrical poem.

DepositFrom Jonah to Jesus and back: three Ways of Characterization and their Reverse Application

The resemblance between the Gospel story about Jesus stilling a storm in the Sea of Galilee (Mt. 8:18, 23-27, Mk. 4:35-41, Lk. 8:22-25) and the Jonah story (Jon. 1:1-16) has been long acknowledged by scholars. This article contends that since the relations between the two stories are those of polar opposition, it should be possible, by way of reversal, to reconstruct from the three Synoptic versions of the storm-stilling story another three underlying images of Jonah, in addition to the multiply and often contradictory images of this unusual figure, current in the Second Temple literature. Aside from it, the comparison to other storm-stilling stories and a brief discussion of the “Sign of Jonah” pericope yield some additional methodological insights.

DepositKingship and Carpe Diem, Between Gilgamesh and Qoheleth

The comparison of Qoheleth and Gilgamesh begins with the so-called carpe diem advice of Siduri and Eccl 9:7-9. Additionally, the rhetoric of kingship evoked through Gilgamesh’s narû (“stele”) at the beginning of the epic parallels the royal voice of Qoheleth beginning in Eccl 1:12. Yet these similarities raise several historical issues. First, Siduri’s speech is only found in an Old Babylonian fragment of the epic. The redaction of this advice was part of a process of adapting kingship motifs in the Standard Babylonian Epic. This process appears to bring Gilgamesh closer to Qoheleth, particularly in its reference to narû literature. But in reality the message of later versions of the Mesopotamian epic diverges from that of Ecclesiastes. Furthermore, Qoheleth’s royal voice finds a closer parallel in Northwest Semitic memorial inscriptions. A careful reconsideration of these factors will show that the similarities and differences reflect how both works interact with kingship.

DepositSystems and Other Minimalism in Britain

This collection of essays represents the first international survey of minimalism and postminimalist music from a wide variety of analytical and historical perspectives; its authors include the central scholars in this area. This chapter is the first comprehensive study of the wide variety of minimalist styles in Britain, from the sparse, ‘minimal minimalist’ One Note 1966 by Christopher Hobbs, to repetitive and durational processes that were at first developed experimentally, using random processes (John White’s Machine music) to numerical systems processes, derived from the work of the British Systems Art group. Although there are close ties between the British and American movements (perhaps strengthened by a shared language), the British movement is distinguished by its ties to British systems and op art, and to literature, as well as to the British folk practice of change-ringing. However, the most consistent trait in this music is a sense of play, and playfulness.

DepositThe “Former Sun” in the Sidereal Clock: The Kabbalistic Heavens and Time in The Spanish Gypsy and Daniel Deronda

In both her epic poem The Spanish Gypsy and her final novel Daniel Deronda, Eliot drew upon kabbalistic concepts of the heavens through the characters of Jewish mystics. In the later novel, Eliot moved the mystic, Mordecai, from the narrative’s periphery to its center. This change, symbolically equated within the novel to a shift from geocentricism to heliocentrism, affects time in Daniel Deronda both in terms of plot and historical focus. Not only does time slow as Mordecai assumes a central role, the astral imagery begins to draw upon a medieval past when Jewish thinkers explored interdisciplinary concepts of the heavens. This essay argues for the centrality of the astronomical imagery in relation to the Jewish themes of Daniel Deronda and shows through its analysis of The Spanish Gypsy how Eliot employed kabbalistic ideas of the skies in an attempt to create a new vision of star-crossed love for literature.

DepositReading Racism: The Assumption of Authorial Intentions in Stephen Crane’s ‘The Monster’

This paper derives from an M.A. dissertation on Stephen Crane (“Reading ‘The Monster’,” Brown University, 1989). It examines the critical reception of Stephen Crane’s story ‘The Monster,’ with a special focus on the issue of racial representation and on the way authorial intentions bearing on this issue are constructed by critics. The critical approach expands narratological analysis in the direction of the sociology of literature, in this case through reception aesthetics. Focusing on racial representations and attitudes, the paper upholds the relevance of authorial intention as a critical concept, understanding criticism as a specific discursive discipline or “language game,” on the basis of the continual use critics make of this concept in order to make sense of the works they read. At the same time, the limits of such intentions are shown to be ideologically determined in the critical act. Interpretation emerges, therefore, as an interactive practice which is often blind to the discursive conventions that enable it.

DepositSettlers and Laborers: The Afterlife of Indenture in Early South African Indian Writing

As part of a growing scholarly corpus on African literature within an Indian Ocean framework, Gaurav Desai, in his recent book on writing by South Asians in East Africa, asks: “How, and under what conditions, do settlers become natives?” (13). While discussions of Indian South African writing have centered around recent novels, I take up Desai’s question in relation to earlier generations of Indian South African writing, specifically Ansuyah R. Singh’s novel, Behold the Earth Mourns, and Mohandas K. Gandhi’s Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. I argue that these authors wanted to distance themselves from indenture and embrace a different narrative: that of the settler. They thus employ the tropes of settler writing to escape the constraints, both temporal and narrative, imposed by the indenture contract. However, the specter of the contract introduces the rhetoric of law into their work, at odds with the sentimental language associated with settler narratives.

Deposit‘The instant of waking from the nightmare’: Emergence Theory and Postcolonial Experience in Season of Migration to the North

This article positions agency as a necessarily lacunal aspect of Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North. By allowing the theatricality of doubling and metaphor to overdetermine Mustafa’s narrative, the novel implicitly challenges both the substitution of symbol for material experience and the rational logic of causation. The disruptive potential of this challenge suggests an emergent form of postcolonial experience – an unpredictable interaction of parts that redefines the whole, in which the centrality of non-human matter’s role in shaping human subjectivity resists and exceeds the analytic frameworks of biological determinism and humanist agency. The article employs Jeffrey Goldstein and Peter Corning’s work on the theory of downward causation, bringing postcolonial literature into dialog with the concept of emergence in the field of biological science. In this way, the article aligns the development of an alternative mode of scientific inquiry with the development of postcolonial theory, both of which are invested in challenging teleological master narratives of ordered, rational progress.

DepositThe Ethics of Mourning: The Role of Material Culture and Public Politics in the ‘Book of the Duchess’ and the ‘Pearl’ Poem

Chairperson: Dr. Ashby Kinch This project is a socio-historic analysis of two late 14th century dream visions: Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess and the Pearl poem. Utilizing Robert Pogue Harrison’s concept of objectifying grief through ritualized communal mourning, this thesis examines the ways in which mourning literature functioned as consolatory device, and a form of public performance for the powerful patrons who commissioned the pieces. By engaging with pre-existing communities of grief, material culture, and courtly discourse these poems perform the work of mourning while simultaneously enacting modes of public performativity that stress the ethics of grieving, and suggest that, for royal patrons, it is imperative for the stability of the commonwealth that they respond appropriately to loss. In performing the work of mourning the texts advocate for a unity between public and private selves, enacting the principle that for a great leader the private is always public.

DepositWhat we do, is (still) secret? Collection, care and accessibility of zines in UK collections

In 2013, as the dissertation component of an MA Library and Information Studies course at University College London, I carried out a selective study of UK zine libraries and collections. Case studies of both ‘institutional’ collections that were part of established libraries like London College of Communication Library (University of the Arts London) and the British Library, and ‘independent’ collections such as Salford Zine Library, 56a Infoshop and the Edinburgh Fanzine archive were carried out to draw attention to issues around collection, care and accessibility of zine collections. As much of the literature around zine collections in libraries at that time was focused on the USA, it was important to draw attention to what was happening in the UK. This article summarizes the findings of my dissertation, and the developments in zine libraries and librarianship since I wrote it, as zine collections have become more popular and a growing field in the UK.