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Genealogy and Literature

Lee Quinby editor
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Genealogy and Literature
    Book Description:

    Traditionalists insist that literature transcends culture. Others counter that it is subversive by nature. By challenging both claims, Genealogy and Literature reveals the importance of literature for understanding dominant and often violent power/knowledge relations within a given society. Contributors: Claudette Kemper Columbus, Lennard J. Davis, Simon During, Michel Foucault, Ellen J. Goldner, Tom Hayes, Kate Mehuron, Donald Mengay, Imafedia Okhamafe, Lee Quinby, José David Saldivar, and Malini Johar Schueller.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8632-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Genealogy and the Desacralization of Literature
    (pp. xi-xxx)
    Lee Quinby

    Regimes of sacralized truth conceal the violences installed within their logic. Yet these violences are evident in their action on bodies and in bodily reactions, of those who collaborate as well as those who resist. As Foucault puts it, “the body manifests the stigmata of past experience and also gives rise to desires, failings, and errors.”² Bodily “stigmata” or inscriptions of history are “traced by language and dissolved by ideas.” Language’s role in revealing, covering over, or erasing history’s inscriptions on bodies is part of what makes literature and its criticism worthy of genealogical attention. Through its pursuit of “the...

  5. Part I: To Know What Literature Is

    • 1 The Functions of Literature
      (pp. 3-8)
      Michel Foucault

      This dialogue on the nature of literature is a fragment of a longer interview conducted on June 20, 1975, with Roger-Pol Droit. It took place several months after the publication ofSurveiller et punir(February 1975) and one year prior to the publication ofLa Volonté de savoir(December 1976). Roger-Pol Droit and Michel Foucault had decided to collaborate on a book of interviews—an ongoing dialogue—that would further develop some of Foucault’s theoretical concepts and address other issues left unexplored in his previously published work. The project, however, was never completed. The following represents a small portion of...

    • 2 Universalizing Marginality: How Europe Became Deaf in the Eighteenth Century
      (pp. 9-27)
      Lennard J. Davis

      The counterintuitive point of this essay is that deafness, far from being an epiphenomenon of eighteenth-century cultural interests, was perhaps one of the central areas of concern. I want to make a claim for the centrality of what might appear to be extremely marginal. Further, I want to make the somewhat preposterous suggestion that Europe became deaf during the eighteenth century. Although this statement seems patently false, I hope to show how cultural deafness became one of the hallmarks of early modern ideas about public symbolic and information production, and how the deaf person bacame an icon for complex intersections...

    • 3. Monstrous Body, Tortured Soul: Frankenstein at the Juncture between Discourses
      (pp. 28-47)
      Ellen J. Goldner

      InDiscipline and Punish, Michel Foucault probes two different discourses: a discourse of the public spectacle of the body, which, in 1757 in France, is active at the scene of public torture, and a discourse of discipline, which, near the end of the eighteenth century, abandons the public display of the body in order to produce, to articulate, and to place under surveillance the internal soul or psyche of the prisoner. In the shift between the old discourse and the new, the public spectacle of the body gives way to a highly individuated soul—one that is meticulously documented even...

    • 4. Indians, Polynesians, and Empire Making: The Case of Herman Melville
      (pp. 48-68)
      Malini Johar Schueller

      That Herman Melville dedicated the supposedly autobiographical account of his stay among the Typees to Lemuel Shaw, chief justice of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is surely curious. Melville was seemingly all but contemptuous of missionary activity inTypee, and Lemuel Shaw had belonged for many years to the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians. In fact, two months after receiving his inscribed copy ofTypee, Shaw solicited funds for the conversion of the Montapec Indians.¹ In one sense, we can see the dedication as Melville’s attempt to sensitize his father-in-law to the destructive consequences of missionary activity. If...

  6. Part II: A Language Poised against Death

    • 5. Post-Foucauldian Criticism: Government, Death, Mimesis
      (pp. 71-95)
      Simon During

      Foucault and literature. It seems an obvious enough conjunction. After all, nowhere in Foucault’s writings do literary texts and examples completely fall of sight, and for a short period they form its core. In broad terms, one classify his remarks and essays on literature under four headings: first, literary theory that underpinsMadness and Civilization, the book on Roussel, and the essays on transgression; second, the literary history that lies embedded in those transgressive essays; third, his description of the uses to which literary realism was put in the production of the docile society; and, last, a very fully developed...

    • 6. Cannibalizing the Humanist Subject: A Genealogy of Prospero
      (pp. 96-115)
      Tom Hayes

      The Tempestis the last play Shakespeare wrote for the London stage before he retired to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1611. As an exercise in self-reflection, self-representation, and self-criticism, I am going to trace a genealogy of the hero of that play. That is, in the following pages I am going to conduct a (partial) history of representations of Prospero as part of what Foucault termed “an historical ontology” of the sense of self, the subjectivity, that originated in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages.¹ I choose Prospero as arepresentativehumanist subject because he so glaringly illustrates the chief...

    • 7. Grounds for Decolonization: Arguedas’s Foxes
      (pp. 116-133)
      Claudette Kemper Columbus

      An assumption underlying this essay is that colonization is as inescapable as cultural conditioning. The effort of this essay is nonetheless to discover distinctions among types of colonization, distinctions in colonizing processes,and options for decolonization. These options may be found cast not in terms of colonizer and colonized, but in terms of sufficiency or insufficiency of choice in decolonizing oneself.

      José María Arguedas, the Peruvian novelist and anthropologist, intercalates the diary of his suicide with the chapters of his unfinished novel,El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo(hereafter referred to asThe Foxes).¹ Although Arguedas failed to...

    • 8. Genealogical Determinism in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
      (pp. 134-154)
      Imafedia Okhamafe

      Things indeed fall apart in Umuofia. The center can no longer hold. But things begin to fall apart in this nine-village Umuofia clan long before a European colonialist missionary culture inserts itself there. The tragedy of Umuofia, therefore, lies not so much in white missionary arrival as in Umuofia’s hierarchical failure to fruitfully engage certain internal cultural differences that were already simmering in the general economy of Umuofia long before and even after the presence of any formidable Christian difference in Umuofia. The hierarchical failure derives from anegwugwugenealogy that forms and informs the general economy of Umuofia. By...

  7. Part III: Seeking the Limits of the Possible

    • 9. Sex Matters: Genealogical Inquiries, Pedagogical Implications
      (pp. 157-174)
      Lee Quinby

      CNN takes us live to a New Bedford, Massachusetts, courtroom where James Porter, former Roman Catholic priest, awaits sentencing. In October 1993, Porter, now married with four children, pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault of twenty-eight children, both male and female, dating from the 1960s. Church authorities had long been aware of the abuse, requiring that Porter undergo treatment in facilities established and run by the church for priests who are sexual abusers. Porter’s treatment was deemed unsuccessful; he continued the abuse even while undergoing treatment and was finally dismissed from the priesthood in 1974.

      As the judge deliberates,...

    • 10. The Real and the Marvelous in Charleston, South Carolina: Ntozake Shange’s Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo
      (pp. 175-192)
      José David Saldivar

      Ntozake Shange has been widely praised for her oppositional feminist “combat-breathing” poetics in her explosive Broadway choreopoemFor Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf(1976) and for her powerful “lyricism” inSassafrass, Cypress & Indigo(1982), but her use of Afro-Caribbean and Latin American magic realism has received little attention, owing to an inadequate understanding of a vast and rich literary and cultural movement in the Americas that began over forty years ago.¹

      The reasons for this state of affairs are complex. Henry Louis Gates correctly claims that citics of African American texts are trained to...

    • 11. Body/Talk: Mishima, Masturbation, and Self-Performativity
      (pp. 193-210)
      Donald H. Mengay

      The social upheavals caused around the world by western imperialism were also felt in Japan, despite the fact that the west never established a formal colonial bureaucracy there. One of the early outcomes of the western “influence,” which began with an act of aggression, the American insistence in the 1860s that Japan open its borders, was the reconfiguration of the terms of a debate about the individual’s relation to society. As H. D. Harootonian and Masao Miyoshi point out, this discussion, as well as a more general one related to modernity and modernization, began in Japan well before the invasion...

    • 12. “Dreadful Dioramas”: Guibert’s Countermemories
      (pp. 211-224)
      Kate Mehuron

      Imagine yourself at the portal of a life-size exhibition that features your friend dying. The details of his dying mime your own death, which you know is shortly to follow, based on an expert’s diagnosis of your case as HIV positive. You are only a quasi-spectator, for your presence at this dioramic exhibit guarantees that you are inducted into a unique mimesis. Your friend is performing the gestures of an anguish that also overtakes you. In spite of this, you do not desert him. Rather, you attend to his drama and thus enact for the first time a partial rendition...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 225-228)
  9. Index
    (pp. 229-237)