A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature

A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature

Jacob Edmond
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature
    Book Description:

    Why is our world still understood through binary oppositions-East and West, local and global, common and strange-that ought to have crumbled with the Berlin Wall? What might literary responses to the events that ushered in our era of globalization tell us about the rhetorical and historical underpinnings of these dichotomies? In A Common Strangeness, Jacob Edmond exemplifies a new, multilingual and multilateral approach to literary and cultural studies. He begins with the entrance of China into multinational capitalism and the appearance of the Parisian flaneur in the writings of a Chinese poet exiled in Auckland, New Zealand. Moving among poetic examples in Russian, Chinese, and English, he then traces a series of encounters shaped by economic and geopolitical events from the Cultural Revolution, perestroika, and the June 4 massacre to the collapse of the Soviet Union, September 11, and the invasion of Iraq. In these encounters, Edmond tracks a shared concern with strangeness through which poets contested old binary oppositions as they reemerged in new, post-Cold War forms.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4626-7
    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)
    (pp. XI-XVI)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In 1984, in what was to become a foundational text for attempts to understand our current era of globalization, Fredric Jameson cited the then-little-known San Francisco Language writer Bob Perelman and his poem “China,” alongside canonical figures from Samuel Beckett to Andy Warhol.¹ For Jameson, Perelman’s short, disjunctive poem was exemplary of the “cultural logic of late capitalism.” This was precisely because it had “little enough to do with that referent called China.” As a unified, collective “subject of history,” China was for Jameson antithetical both to the breakdown of the subject in post­modern culture and to the fragmentation of...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Yang Lian and the Flâneur in Exile
    (pp. 15-43)

    How can one acknowledge points of contact among disparate texts, times, places, languages, and cultures without eclipsing their particularity? This problem becomes especially acute in the post-1989 world when the ever-increasing connections produced by globalization result in a plurality of cultural positions whose complex entanglements undermine notions of commensurability and equivalence that derive from comparative literature’s Eurocentric legacy. As a result, the discipline of comparative literature is in danger of becoming caught in a continuous movement of self-referential deconstruction, oscillating between the universal and the particular, between old Eurocentric practices and the possibility of resisting and subverting them.

    I propose...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Poetic Correspondences
    (pp. 44-71)

    Arriving in Moscow on 10 June 1983, the collection of mainly San Francisco Bay Area bohemians must have made a strange sight. Comprising avant-garde musicians, writers, filmmakers, a video crew, and accompanying family, the group had come to the Soviet Union because of a letter from Alexander Kan. In 1981, Kan wrote to Rova Saxophone Quartet member Larry Ochs, inviting the quartet to the Free Music Club in Leningrad, “as a gesture rather than with any expectation of his being able to accept.” Kan met the group at the airport in Moscow, where he informed Ochs’s wife, the poet Lyn...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Lyn Hejinian and Russian Estrangement
    (pp. 72-94)

    Viktor Shklovsky’s concept of estrangement (ostranenie) has attracted many avant-garde groups, but perhaps none more so than the Language poets, the most prominent avant-garde in English-language poetry of the last quarter of the twentieth century. Among the Language poets, this theory of poetic estrangement finds no better expression than in Hejinian. Like Shklovsky, Hejinian extends her poetics of estrangement beyond the textual, connecting the radical artifice of poetic language with the act of seeing the world anew and with the estranging effect of Russia itself: the autonomous poetics of the word as such (“form made difficult”) with the renewal of...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Bei Dao and World Literature
    (pp. 95-124)

    How could lines of poetry written secretly by a poet in his early twenties become rallying cries for a generation, and a decade later, in 1989, appear on protest banners that sought to change the course of a nation? How could some of these poems be read the following year as representative of a new placeless, transnational world literature without a history or identity?

    These shifting readings of Bei Dao 北岛 could be seen as an allegory of the transition from a national to a postnational world. But to read them in this way would be to ignore how the...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Dmitri Prigov and Cross-Cultural Conceptualism
    (pp. 125-163)

    The late 1980s and early 1990s witnessed the rise of an international market for contemporary Chinese and Russian artworks. Indicative examples are Zhang Hongtu’s portrait of Mao Zedong on a Quaker Oats container (Long Live Chairman Mao Series#29; 1989) or Aleksandr Kosolapov’s combination of an image of Lenin and a Coca-Cola advertisement (Coca-Cola: It’s the Real Thing; 1990). Such works and the Western pop and conceptual art practices on which they draw illustrate the subordination of local and national traditions to the global economic and artistic system. They belie the view that conceptual art constituted a “decisive break” with...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Charles Bernstein and Broken English
    (pp. 164-192)

    Charles Bernstein is perhaps best known for the satirical mode that this second epigraph exemplifies. Nevertheless, he is often read as a serious commentator on literary studies and its recent global turn, anticipated here by his application of the language of Cold War–era international relations to poetry. Satire and seriousness are not uncommon bedfellows, but the attribution of a serious statement to a given satire is always the product of interpretation, of how one reads. Although his essays have made a major contribution to the comparative and transnational turn in US literary and cultural studies, Bernstein himself warns against...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 193-198)

    On 20 March 2003, the New Zealand state broadcaster interrupted its regular schedule to announce that US-led forces had entered Iraq. Obviously prepared for the inevitable news, the announcer immediately switched to Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English.” Like Bernstein, the radio station repeated this old song to protest an event that was itself a reprise of a war that twelve years earlier had helped mark the end of the Cold War. Faithfull’s song likewise repeated and transformed the refrain of a 1960s antiwar anthem. In the cracked voice introduced by Faithfull’s comeback album, “Broken English” tracked a collective and personal narrative...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 199-234)
    (pp. 235-264)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 265-272)