Forthcoming Essays


WHITNEY HELMS-KOSTERS, “Performing Authorship in the Celebrity Sphere: Dickens and the Reading Tours”

ABSTRACT: This article examines the formation of Charles Dickens’s celebrity amidst the overlap of celebrity culture, mass entertainment, and commodity discourse in the Victorian period. Working in a time when authorship was becoming a more performative endeavor, Dickens launched his reading tours, a series of readings of some of his most popular works. These performances should not be understood as gratuitous or as unworthy of the profession of authorship, as many of Dickens’s contemporaries would claim, but rather as Dickens’s strategic way to develop his celebrity while limiting its corollary of authorial commodification. Examining personal letters, contemporary reviews, and the reading books, this article demonstrates that the tours allowed Dickens to redefine the boundaries of legitimate authorship by offering him a new field of entertainment in which to re-stage his authorial personality and literary successes.
SHADI NEIMNEH, “Thematics of Interracial Violence in Selected Harlem Renaissance Novels”
ABSTRACT: This article examines the role/function and types of interracial violence in some selected Harlem Renaissance novels, mainly written in the 1920s. It attempts to discuss the employment of violence as a theme and a technique within the radical orientation of the movement itself and its militant spirit. The article  elaborates a thematic distinction between physical violence and emotional violence and distinguishes between the aesthetic presentation of this violence as opposed to the protest one associated with propaganda. Although I argue that such ends do not necessarily exclude each other, the treatment of violence in the Harlem Renaissance novels is still rooted in the major cultural debates by the proponents of the movement on the value and function of art in general and literature in particular. I engage such debates in a brief introduction and proceed with a textual scrutiny of multiple Harlem Renaissance novels. The conclusion evaluates the achievement of Harlem Renaissance writers in their cultural campaign and the movement's relevance to today's global politics.

SATOSHI NISHIMURA, “Personification: Its Functions and Boundaries”

ABSTRACT: While personification is a basic aspect of literature in general and a prominent feature of lyric poetry in particular, its status in the field of tropology has been in one way or another indefinite and volatile, with the result that there exists a wide range of disagreement over its significance. In an attempt to save personification from such confusion and understand its importance properly, this essay provides a critical overview of its problems and explores its nature vis-à-vis some other allied tropes. This exploration leads to an understanding of personification as a master trope that embodies the conflation of figuration by cognition and figuration by sheer force of language.
CASSANDER L. SMITH, “‘Nigger’ or ‘Slave’: Why Labels Matter for Jim (and Twain) in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
ABSTRACT: This essay uses as a motivating occasion the 2011 release of a critical edition of Huck Finn that substitutes “nigger” with “slave.” The diction change profoundly affects the novel, which becomes apparent when we examine the character most affected by the change—Jim. This essay, then, re-examines Jim’s role as a “nigger” and a “slave” by reading Jim as a complex character who grows alongside Huck as the novel progresses. In what has been deemed the quintessential realist text, Jim, like Huck, ultimately submits to an innate sense of morality. The irony, though, of Jim’s moral development is that he remains subjected to the dehumanizing label of “nigger.” “Slave” is a label Jim can outrun. “Nigger” is not. To suggest otherwise, by treating “nigger” and “slave” as interchangeable, is to undermine the struggle of Jim’s existence and the African American experience in the 19th century.
MICHAEL WAINWRIGHT,  “Truman Capote’s Contribution to the Documentary Novel: The Game-Theoretic Dilemmas of In Cold Blood
ABSTRACT:  To which genre does Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences (1966) belong?  According to Capote, his volume exemplifies a new literary class, the nonfiction novel, but Barbara Foley disputes the author’s claim.  She cites solipsistic dissipation of journalistic objectivity, secret contractual rescindment, and poststructural acquiescence as reasons to exclude In Cold Blood from this category, and places it in the all-embracing and all-submerging realm of ambiguous textual practice.  The present paper rescues Capote’s work from Foley’s charge of disingenuousness by using game theory to identify the fundamental framework that has securely grounded documentary fiction throughout its history; in turn, and rather surprisingly, this critical operation also defends Capote against Foley’s charges of dissolute self-indulgence and poststructural acquiescence.  The game-theoretic problems of In Cold Blood are its author’s major contribution to the documentary novel and Capote’s delineations of them are enough to keep one awake at night.
JOHN HOWARD WILSON, “The Origins of Japanese Interest in Evelyn Waugh, 1948-1963”
ABSTRACT: In 1948, when the Allied Occupation of Japan started to “reverse course,” to undo liberal reforms introduced after the war, Japanese scholars and translators began to show interest in Evelyn Waugh, a reactionary English satirist. This essay traces Japanese offers to translate and republish Waugh, sent to his agent, A. D. Peters, from 1948 through sale of the correspondence to the University of Texas in 1963. Abstracts of Japanese scholarship on Waugh have recently appeared in English, and these essays are correlated with Japanese republication of Waugh’s work. Waugh never achieved popularity in Japan, and the essay concludes that contemporary Japanese interest in him is mainly academic. This essay is partly a case study of a Western writer’s reception in a non-Western country. The Japanese have preferred Waugh’s short fiction, and their taste anticipated Western reevaluation of Waugh’s works after his Complete Short Stories appeared in 1998. 
MARJORIE WORTHINGTON, “Ghosts of Our Fathers: Spectral Authorship and Authenticity in Ellis’s Lunar Park
ABSTRACT: Bret Easton Ellis’s 2005 novel Lunar Park explores the overlap between the emasculated contemporary man and the disempowered writer, taking on the notion that the writer becomes irrelevant to his work once it has been published. The novel employs the image of the ghost as the lynchpin that links anxieties about the waning power of masculinity, waning authorial authority and the resulting trauma that this diminution of power causes the author-figure, in this case, a characterized version of “Bret Easton Ellis” himself. What starts out as a classic ghost story soon evolves into an exploration of the extent to which the contemporary white male writer is haunted by elements of his past, including literary creations which are out of his control. In this sense, Lunar Park depicts contemporary authorship as ghostly, as the author represents a presence neither alive nor dead, neither fully present nor completely absent

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