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On Pain of Speech

On Pain of Speech: Fantasies of the First Order and the Literary Rant

Dina Al-Kassim
Series: FlashPoints
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    On Pain of Speech
    Book Description:

    On Pain of Speechtracks the literary rant, an expression of provocation and resistance that imagines the power to speak in its own name where no such right is granted. Focusing on the "politics of address," Dina Al-Kassim views the rant through the lens of Michel Foucault's notion of the biopolitical subject and finds that its abject address is an essential yet overlooked feature of modernism. Deftly approaching disparate fields-decadent modernism, queer studies, subjection, critical psychoanalysis, and postcolonial avant-garde-and encompassing both Euro-American and Francophone Arabic modernisms, she offers an ambitious theoretical perspective on the ongoing redefinition of modernism. She includes readings of Jane Bowles, Abdelwahab Meddeb, and Oscar Wilde, and invokes a wide range of ideas, including those of Theodor Adorno, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Judith Butler, Jean Laplanche, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94579-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Politics of Address
    (pp. 1-60)

    In the fall of 1983, only months before his death the next summer, Michel Foucault delivered the lectures that would later appear asFearless Speechand which propose “to construct a genealogy of the critical attitude in Western philosophy.”¹ Appropriately, this discourse took place on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, where two decades earlier the student-led Free Speech Movement successfully militated to lift the ban on political speech and to protect academic freedom. One might think that the lectures, which traced attitudes toward frank talk and free speech,parrhesia,in classical Greece, were motivated by the...

  6. CHAPTER 1 On Being Stubborn Oscar Wilde and the Modern Type
    (pp. 61-118)

    The modernity avowed by the postcolonial avant-garde and twentieth-century modernist cultural critics is crosshatched by power and resistance in ways not captured by the center/periphery divide or an imagination of excluded otherness. To examine the paradox of foreclosed inscription from the very center of discursive relations, in this chapter we turn to london’s fin de siècle inheritance of that midcentury Baudelairean ethos so crucial for the formation of modern subjectivity and to a figure whose social liminality derives from his complex relation to empire. The position of Oscar Wilde, irish and Protestant, in london’s fashionable society and intellectual world was...

  7. CHAPTER 2 “The Bar Was Not Very Gay” New Kinship and the Serious Writer’s Block
    (pp. 119-177)

    At the conclusion of Jane Bowles’s only novel,Two Serious Ladies,published in 1943, the two ladies of the title meet for the last time at a swanky hotel bar. Possessed of “the desire to tell someone everything that had happened,” each hopes that her newly found seriousness will find means for the telling. A break in the text announces the coda before the final scene resumes the narrative with the stark phrase “The restaurant was not very gay,” a phrase emblematic of the surprising ways that Bowles’s life and writing struggled to name her most profound intuitions in the...

  8. CHAPTER 3 “A Long Tirade for a Direct Interjection” Talismano Rebukes the Oriental Tale in Jacques Lacan’s Séminaires
    (pp. 178-232)

    The second and final volume of Elisabeth Roudinesco’s historyJacques Lacan and Co.: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925–1985ends with a curious appendix. Trailing in the margins of this masterwork, a page ofThe Interpretation of Dreamsin its Arabic translation appears without citation, though the book’s title is noted.¹ As if torn out of its binding the text begins abruptlyin medias res;to the reader of Arabic, no attribution is offered. Only an almost accidental recognition will serve those to whom the script is a language. This oblique citation transforms written Arabic into empty ornament—...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 233-270)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 271-280)
  11. Index
    (pp. 281-291)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 292-292)