667 Chapters
Medium 9780253012463

5 “The Worst of Music”: Listening and Narrative in Night and Day and “The String Quartet”

Adriana L. Varga Indiana University Press ePub

Vanessa Manhire

VIRGINIA WOOLFS ACKNOWLEDGED INTEREST IN INTERDISciplinary approaches to literature, her love of music, and her assumed position as “common listener” rather than musical expert offer fruitful angles into her early fiction: her groundbreaking reworking of narrative conventions depends heavily upon her explorations of the ways in which music works, especially for its listeners.1 Woolf engages directly and critically with the social and literary norms of late nineteenth-century society, placing explicit emphasis on musical scenes as subject matter from which to build this critique, and using music to problematize the relationship between the external world and the world of the mind. This essay discusses Woolf’s treatment of music in her second novel, Night and Day (1919), and the short story “The String Quartet” (1921), focusing on scenes of musical performance as well as Woolf’s questioning of music’s representational capacities. Stylistically, these texts are polar opposites: one heavy, conventional, and Victorian, the other light, experimental, and modernist. Yet in very different ways they both explore music as a potential model for the representation of interiority. Following Pater’s idea of music as embodying the perfect relationship between form and content, Woolf draws on music as a vehicle for the exploration of language. Woolf’s development of stream-of-consciousness narrative techniques, I suggest, owes much to her thinking about the effects of listening to music, a shared social experience but one that simultaneously allows for the individual movement of the imagination.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253007278

6 The Myopia of American Communism

Gerald Sorin Indiana University Press ePub

With the disastrous Wallace campaign behind him, and imprisonment ahead of him, Howard Fast spent less time writing fiction and more time writing columns, pro bono, for various Communist periodicals.1 His pieces were often a running commentary, mostly ironic, on issues of immediate interest in the news: the firing of college professors accused of Communist affiliations; Red-baiting in the union movement; the imprisonment of HUAC chair J. Parnell Thomas for fraud; lynching in the American South and racial injustice in every region; biting ad homonym essays eviscerating Louis Budenz, Fast’s favorite professional ex-Communist informer; attacks on Paul Gallico, award-winning writer of the novella The Snow Goose, but also an antisemite and virulent anti-Communist; and fierce criticism of New York’s Francis Cardinal Spellman, whose hatred of Communism was boundless. Fast’s targets were most often well chosen, but his language was venomous, riddled with words like “filth,” “swine,” “lunatic,” “monstrous,” and of course “fascist.” There were also a small number of tributes to fellow Communists and friends such as the writer and film director Carl Marzani.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253015976

9 Thresholds of New African Dramaturgies in France Today

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Mária Minich Brewer

Not all voices can be heard at the same time in the same story/history.

Kossi Efoui, Solo d’un revenant

THIS COLLECTION OF essays, Rethinking African Cultural Productions, offers an occasion to question theater’s physical and symbolic borders, frontiers, separations, and border crossings. Working as it does across multiple thresholds and dimensions simultaneously, whether of time, space, language, or the body, the art of the theater engages its public in critical considerations of and across borders. A new generation of African diasporic playwrights of the 1990s have thoroughly reinvented the social and symbolic possibilities for new theatrical languages. In this essay, I propose to map out some of the theatrical thresholds implicit in such a project of reinventing a new theatricality. This critical work on thresholds, I argue, needs to focus explicitly on the symbolic, social, and material dimensions of writing for performance.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253015976

3 Provocations: African Societies and Theories of Creativity

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Moradewun Adejunmobi

MY OBJECTIVE IN this essay is to argue that cultural studies scholars who focus on Africa should give at least some of their attention to producing scholarship that also provides a wide-ranging justification for humanities research as occasion demands, and that deciders and the society at large must understand that the value of humanities scholarship can never be taken for granted anywhere in the world. What is more, the need to address why humanities scholarship matters becomes all the more urgent in times of economic and political uncertainty when the temptation is highest to curtail, underfund, and if possible eliminate institutions dedicated to humanities scholarship. I shall make the argument for attending to such justifications by way of a commentary on current trends in studies of African cultural production.1

In 2012, the Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina took advantage of an address to the African Studies Association of the United Kingdom to counter Taiye Selasi’s celebration of the “Afropolitan.”2 As far as reactions to Selasi’s declaration go, Wainaina’s riposte did not represent an isolated incident. Selasi’s 2005 manifesto “went viral” in its initial instantiation in an online magazine and generated considerable commentary in blogs dedicated to discussion of African culture and identity. Similar controversies trail the multiple national affiliations attributed to authors like Teju Cole and Dinaw Mengestu, among others, and the claims to African identity made for Tope Folarin, winner of the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing.3 Discussions of this question in print and online indicate a return to prominence of a certain kind of debate among both writers and critics about the identity and location of the African writer. While such debates about identity will always be topical for African literature, given the current and historical location of many “African” writers outside Africa, I will argue that the main shortcoming of the critical approaches often used today for analyzing African cultural production is not a failure to ask what exactly constitutes “African” as opposed to, say, “Asian” or “Western” cultural production. More important, the critical approaches that we have embraced do not fully account for the relevance of our scholarship on expressive and representational practices to broader trends within African societies at this point in time. They fail to ask what else and what more artistic activity signifies when it occurs under the particular conditions that typify contemporary Africa, and why imaginative activity matters for societies facing apparently more pressing challenges, other than as a form of social commentary that we as scholars are called upon to elucidate.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253015976

7 Reading “Beur” Film Production Otherwise: The Poetics of the Human and the Transcultural

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Safoi Babana-Hampton

IN HIS ANALYSIS of the cinema verité of the 1960s both in Europe and Quebec, especially as practiced by French filmmaker and ethnologist Jean Rouch, Italian filmmaker Paolo Pasolini, and Quebecois filmmaker Pierre Perrault, Gilles Deleuze proposes a new viewpoint from which to understand the distinction of fiction versus truth or subjective versus objective: “Objective and subjective images lose their distinction, but also their identification, in favor of a new circuit where they are wholly replaced, or contaminate each other, or are decomposed and recomposed” (149). As a consequence, Deleuze continues, “the cinema can call itself cinéma-vérité, all the more so because it will have destroyed every model of the true so as to become creator and producer of truth: this will not be a cinema of truth but the truth of cinema” (151, my emphasis). As Deleuze’s lines suggest, the conventional boundaries governing our understanding of the two notions of “truth” and “fiction” collapse and disappear in favor of a new notion of “truth” as being primarily a construct, or a situated act of formalizing human experience. This act characterizes the very essence and raison d’être of the cinematic enterprise, whose field of application Deleuze extends even to works traditionally defined as documentary reportages or ethnographic investigations, such as those produced by Rouch and Perrault (149). Deleuze thus develops a view of the cinematic work as a visual field within which the poetic, the lyrical, and the aesthetic as well as the documentary and ethnographic elements are intertwined and interdependent and cross-fertilize each other in order to depict a multilayered reality or lived experience. All these considerations of the cinematic work are deeply inscribed in his conception of the artist, of whom he offers the following definition: “What the artist is, is creator of truth, because truth is not to be achieved, formed, or reproduced; it has to be created. There is no other truth than the creation of the New” (146–47).

See All Chapters

See All Chapters