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DepositRecreation at stake

Extending Audre Lorde’s intuition around the polysemy of the term recreation, I put forward this concept as an organizational principle. Via the framework of recreation, I want to think about some of the main political stakes of the forms used by collectivities able to act politically in the present. I transpose the double binding that Lorde ascribed to recreation, with its connotations of play, reciprocity, repetition and regeneration, from the realm of intimate, one-to-one relationships – with one’s lover, with the blank page – to bear consequence upon the organization of collective endeavours, in order to transgress some received ideas around the organization of cultural production, the locus of creativity and the politics of use of collective pleasures. The importance of recreation shall become clearer as I move from this notion to what I named, with an admittedly less poetic, yet hopefully effective, play of words: the recreative industries. By this term, I wish to call attention to a type of organization that has existed in various forms throughout modernity, dedicated to regenerating living labour and sustaining free time of the oppressed and the exploited against capitalist temporal structuring and valuation – and in opposition to the limitation of an experience of public pleasure as solely organized around work or consumption. The recreative hypothesis is moreover a political framework for reclaiming the organization of those semiotic, affective or relational productions that, under capital, stand severed from the other kinds. A number of examples give flesh to my argument, including historical references to the junk playgrounds in Danmnark and the UK; the international and in ternationalist phenomenon of people’s houses; and the more recent occupations of abandoned cultural facilities in Italy in the aftermath of the 2008’s financial crisis.

MemberPatrick Williams

As Associate Librarian for Literature, Rhetoric, and Digital Humanities, Patrick supports the Syracuse University English Department, the Department of Communications & Rhetorical Studies, the Linguistics Program, and the Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition through reference consultation, research instruction, and collection development in collaboration with faculty and students. He is interested in contemporary literature, digital humanities, and past, present, and future technologies of reading and writing. He is a participant in the NEH Office of Digital Humanities’ Early Modern Digital Agendas Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and he is co-editor of dh+lib Review. He was a 2015 Techpaths Fellow and visiting artist at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Patrick joined the Syracuse University Libraries in January 2009. Prior to arriving in Syracuse, he served as Web and Instructional Design Librarian at the College of Staten Island / CUNY and Coordinator of CSI’s Center for Excellence in Learning Technology. He holds a B.A. in English from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Information Studies from the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin. His research and writing appears in the Journal of Academic Librarianship, Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science, Heavy Feather Review, Prelude, and elsewhere. His poetry chapbook Hygiene in Reading (Publishing Genius, 2016) was awarded the 2015 Chris Toll Memorial Prize, and he is the editor of Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics. Prior to becoming an academic librarian, Patrick worked as a graphic designer, an information architect, a community technology consultant, and a dj.

DepositLanguage Ideologies in Gao Xingjian’s Literature: a Linguistic Anthropological Study of Chinese Diaspora Literature in Europe

Inspired by Samuel Beckett’s attenuation of language, the French Nobel Prize laureate Gao Xingjian has conducted various language experiments in his literary creations in the past two decades. Gao’s literary works, as Diaspora literature, have received extensive attention from European readers due to their Western modernist literary style, the author’s anti-institution attitude, and the classical Chinese aesthetics pursued in his literary creations. In this paper I examine how the classical Chinese aesthetics and the influences of European modernism and French postmodernism collide towards an expression of an inner stress of immigrant identity. It employs linguistic anthropology to explore the chronotopes and language ideologies embedded in Gao Xingjian’s literary language. I use Gao’s fictions published after he emigrated to France as case studies. The literary language of Gao’s two fictions are thick with various aesthetic and poetic traditions in Chinese history and geography. However, Gao also conflates the desire to violate his native language with the retrospection of Chinese language and culture from a stance of his new immigrant identity. With detailed analysis of the literary devices including the juxtaposition of time-space configurations, the interactions of diversified language elements, the micro-histories and political geographies embedded in his travel literatures, I look into how Gao’s literary language responds to the complex Chinese language institutions and the influence of European modernism and French postmodernism. This paper is one of the first few attempts of using linguistic anthropology methods to study the relationship between Chinese Diaspora literature and the European political and cultural roles for immigrants. It contributes to the recent hot debates on immigrant cultural diversity in Europe.

DepositThe Politics of Caste and Textual Cleansing: A Case of Babu Rajab Ali’s Poetry

On September 15, 2012, some Punjabi book publishers and editors1 were arrested under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for reprinting some works of the 20th century Punjabi poet and kavishar Babu Rajab Ali that allegedly contain derogatory caste names for the Dalits. The police had arrested these publishers suspecting the books could cause unrest in the state and could lead to rioting or division among communities. While one of the publishers chose not to circulate the books in the market after the controversy, in the subsequent editions of two other publications, the texts of Rajab Ali were changed, sanitized of the alleged caste names included in them, with terms more acceptable in contemporary times. We examine the deeper reasons behind this zealous and reactionary response to reprinting texts written more than seventy years ago. It becomes imperative to analyse if it is correct to reproduce old poetical texts through the process of “cleansing” and if the textual cleansing subverts the original meaning the poet wanted to convey, in his particular spatial-temporal context. The political, social and cultural dynamics behind the caste-based and censor-filtered purging of text reproduction need to be probed into, along with the role of state agencies and institutional structures that allow it to exist. Should the publishers be held responsible for the content they publish? Should the debate of cleansing/sanitizing, when understood in the context of the prevalent caste relations in Punjab, be reduced only to the notions of ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘freedom of individual’? Further, we analyse the significance of Rajab Ali’s writing on its own merit, while also demonstrating and critiquing his proclivity to perpetuate existing caste norms. These are the questions this paper seeks to address, while also conveying how poetry can be used as an alternative historical source for early-twentieth century Malwa.

DepositThe Invention of Chinese Buddhist Poetry: Poet-monks in Late Medieval China (c. 760-960 CE)

This dissertation presents an alternative history of late medieval literature, one which traces the development of Chinese Buddhist poetry into a fully autonomous tradition. It does so through a careful study of the works of poet-monks in the late medieval period (760–960). These poet-monks established a tradition of elite Buddhist poetry in classical Chinese that continued until the twentieth century. This dissertation also breaks new methodological ground by using digital tools to analyze medieval sources and by using poetry composition manuals to understand medieval Chinese poetry on its own terms. The introduction analyzes the meanings of “religious literature” and situates this study of poet-monks therein. Part I, comprised of chapters 2, 3, and 4, presents a social history of poet-monks first by examining the invention of the term “poet-monk” in the late eighth century and its development until the tenth, then by mapping literary relations in the late medieval period using social network analysis. It demonstrates the existence and importance of poet-monks to the literary culture of this time. Part II, comprised of chapters 5 and 6, turns to the monks’ poetics at their most extreme: first the wild excess of repetition in song, madness, and incantation; then the austere devotion of “bitter intoning” (kuyin) and the identification of poetry with meditation. Both extremes are the fruit of the poet-monks’ mixing of literary and religious practices. The conclusion shows how the poet-monks identified their religious and literary practices, hints at why their work had been neglected, and reflects on the implications of this dissertation for the study of religious poetry. Thus, this dissertation provides one way of answering the question of how to define religious poetry and sheds light on an overlooked corner of Chinese literary history, reconstructing an entire subtradition to demonstrate their fusion of religious and literary practices.

DepositThe Invention of Chinese Buddhist Poetry: Poet-Monks in Late Medieval China (c. 760-960)

This dissertation presents an alternative history of late medieval literature, one which traces the development of Chinese Buddhist poetry into a fully autonomous tradition. It does so through a careful study of the works of poet-monks in the late medieval period (760–960). These poet-monks established a tradition of elite Buddhist poetry in classical Chinese that continued in East Asia until the twentieth century. This dissertation also breaks new methodological ground by using digital methods on medieval sources, and by using poetry composition manuals to understand medieval Chinese poetry on its own terms. The introduction analyzes the meanings of “religious literature” and situates this study of poet-monks therein. Part I, comprised of chapters 2, 3, and 4, presents a social history of poet-monks first by examining the invention of the term “poet-monk” in the late eighth century and its development until the tenth, then by mapping literary relations in the late medieval period using social network analysis. It demonstrates the existence and importance of poet-monks to the literary culture of this time. Part II, comprised of chapters 5 and 6, turns to the monks’ poetics at their most extreme: first the wild excess of repetition in song, madness, and incantation; then the austere devotion of “bitter intoning” and the identification of poetry with meditation. Both extremes are the fruit of the poet-monks’ mixing of literary and religious practices. The conclusion shows how the poet-monks identified their religious and literary practices, hints at why their work had been neglected, and reflects on the implications of this dissertation for the study of religious poetry. Thus, this dissertation provides one way of answering the question of how to define religious poetry and sheds light on an overlooked corner of Chinese literary history, reconstructing an entire subtradition to demonstrate their fusion of religious and literary practices.

DepositPoetry and Skiagraphia in Republic X: A New Analysis of Tragic Mimesis

In Republic X Socrates accuses poetic “imitators” [μιμητικοί] of corrupting the soul (the psychological charge) and producing appearances that are far removed from truth (the metaphysical charge). The success of the psychological charge against mimetic poetry crucially depends on the success of the metaphysical charge; tragic poetry corrupts the soul by making images that are far removed from truth (that is, appearances of virtue and value). The dominant interpretive strategy cashes out the relationship between these two charges as follows: images corrupt the soul, because images are metaphysically inferior; all images are “far removed from truth” and hence potentially corruptive. Unfortunately, this strategy pits Book III against Book X; mimetic poetry forms the foundation of the guardians’ early education (in Book III), but mimetic poetry is corruptive (in Book X). In this paper I defend an alternative strategy. I contend that the metaphysical charge should be interpreted narrowly, to encompass false and illusory appearances of virtue and value produced via skiagraphic techniques. I argue that Socrates’ critique of tragedy and Homeric poetry does not rest on dubious metaphysical claims about images per se, but rather on the plausible and interesting claim that tragedians and their leader, Homer, employ skiagraphic techniques – that is, the manipulation of temporal distances and the contrasting of fortune with misfortune and virtue with vice – in order to produce powerful illusions of virtue and value. Even the denier of the Forms must take this claim seriously. I conclude with some thoughts about good mimesis and the importance of poetry to the larger project of the Republic.

DepositFaithful Infidelity: Charles Ricketts’s Illustrations for Two of Oscar Wilde’s Poems in Prose

The artist, collector, and critic Charles Ricketts (1866–1931) has often been characterised as a reactionary voice in early-twentieth-century debates about modern art. Although he responded conservatively to modern-art developments such as those embodied by the term ‘Post-Impressionism’, his work in book design and illustration exemplifies progressive strategies of decoration that reconfigure the relationship between author and illustrator as one of collaborative authorship. Ricketts’s illustrations are autonomous narratives that not only reproduce the meanings of the texts they represent, but also parody and elaborate on them. Moreover, Ricketts’ book designs and illustrations represent a complex resistance to and working out of Oscar Wilde’s views on art, language, and orality. Ricketts’ progressive strategies of design are epitomized by his unpublished illustrations for Wilde’s Poems in Prose (1894), a text which dramatises the centrality of voice to Wilde’s poetic endeavour and allows Ricketts directly to challenge Wilde’s denigration of the visual arts. By focusing on two representative examples, Ricketts’ drawings for ‘The Disciple’ and ‘The House of Judgment’, and by providing close readings of both image and text, this piece traces Ricketts’ illustrational methods and reveals their debts to Wilde’s own theories of orality, language, and visual arts, charting Ricketts’ divergences from Wilde’s texts and highlighting the critical dialogue implicit in the illustrations. Ricketts’ drawings for the Poems in Prose, currently held at the Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery in Carlisle, have never been published together as a set, and the juxtaposition of the two drawings here is a preliminary attempt to set these illustrations in conversation with each other.

DepositPrehistoric Canadian Networks: Louis Dudek, Marshall McLuhan and the Post

In 1949, Montreal poet Louis Dudek circulated a package of poetry manuscripts through a decentralized network of writers working in the U.S. and Canada that he called the “Poetry Grapevine.” In the manifesto-like instructions for the project, Dudek declares that “THERE IS A LOT MORE HAPPENING IN OUR DAILY LIVING CONSCIOUSNESS (NOT TO SPEAK OF UNCONSCIOUSNESS) THAN WE CAN GET INTO POETRY WITH EXISTING METHODS.” Dudek’s experimental network would work to capture these neglected forms of consciousness by adopting the set of “DYNAMIC PRINCIPLES” that he lays out. The poems Dudek included in the package, not published until a 1980 retrospective, are more visually experimental than anything else in Dudek’s oeuvre through the incorporation of concrete elements. In my paper, I use these materials—alongside a similar experiment in postal distribution that Marshall McLuhan mailed to Dudek ca. 1953—to think through the ways in which this archive forms one prehistory of verbi-voco-visual poetics in Canada. My argument follows from two related questions: In what ways did these postal experiments allow writers like Dudek and McLuhan to anticipate the ways in which digital networks reconfigured the possibilities of experimental poetry after the advent of the internet? And how might the connection that Dudek draws between the dispersed network of the “Poetry Grapevine” and speculative modes of rendering consciousness help to re-frame the existing view of Dudek’s later work as an effort to trace the unfolding of a single, private consciousness through the focus on collective forms of networked consciousness toward which the Grapevine gestures?

DepositBeating Rhetoric: Rhetorical Theory in the Beat Generation

The beat generation has been examined as a social movement, literary period, and political statement from many different scholarly perspectives. Through the method of rhetorical criticism I tease out an implicit theory of rhetoric from the writings of the principal beat generation founders—namely Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Offering a rhetorical read of their major work along with analysis of their letters and journals I offer a theory of rhetoric from both thinkers. In the early chapters I discuss the history of poetic discourses and rhetoric to determine the connection between literary texts and rhetorical theory. I establish the rhetorical, cultural, and social environment of the post-war United States and its interpretation and assessment by both Kerouac and Ginsberg. I then establish linkages between Kerouac and the rhetorical sense of kairos, establishing his contribution to the beat theory by analyzing On the Road. Kerouac’s contribution to beat rhetoric is developed through examination of the timely and appropriate. Next I turn attention to Allen Ginsberg and his poem “Howl” to demonstrate his implicit theory that the limits of the human body are a rhetorical commonplace. Ginsberg’s contribution is established as finding great power of rhetorical invention in the limits of the human being’s embodied condition. In the final two sections, I show applications of this rhetorical theory through examining Diane Di Prima’s Memoirs of a Beatnik and Amiri Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America” for elements of applied beat rhetorical theory, concluding that elements of the beat rhetoric are present in both.