Although the question of the role of empathy in our experience of fiction is currently an active one in psychology, most of the relevant research has been conducted on popular literature and film. This dissertation seeks to change that by using cognitive approaches to literature to examine how and why postmodern texts disrupt the reader or viewer’s expected empathic connection with the narrator or protagonist. Drawing on research by both cognitive psychologists and cognitive cultural theorists, I examine first how this disruption is accomplished, through techniques of both narrative and ethical estrangement, such as: narrative unreliability or non-cooperation; mindreading puzzles that can never be solved; moments of intimacy and empathy that are deliberately thwarted; and the presence of the disgusting or the grotesque in the text. Ultimately, I argue that in the wake of the disastrous failure of empathy that was World War II, postmodern writers and directors have sought to render moral judgment and decision-making conscious and deliberate, rather than unconscious and emotion-based. Principle authors and texts include Günter Grass’s Die Blechtrommel, W.G. Sebald’s Die Ausgewanderten and Austerlitz, and Michael Haneke’s films, Die Klavierspielerin, Das weiße Band, and Amour. This argument has implications for not only the field of cognitive cultural studies, but also for psychology, ethics, and education.
My paper argues for a shift in our theoretical focus on time in narrative dialectics and a post-Barthesian semiotic model for critical interpretations of Latino/a/x border narratives. Currently, we know that border narratives reveal the underlying patterns of literary communicative acts of difference (i.e., oral and literary ambiguity, high contextuality, and incommensurability) and how these acts of difference are aesthetically arranged for border texts. I claim that these acts of expressing socio-linguistic realities can be made explicit and aesthetically felt when reading border literature. Most scholarship on U.S. multi-ethnic novels, including Latino/a/x novels, has performed rhetorical analyses of the relations and incongruities between Western and non-Western narrative forms. This is evident in Ramón Saldívar’s 1990 narrative theory of a “dialectics of difference.” His theory of Chicano narrativity provides the basis for the development of a critical method for determining the intersecting referential codes used to express border narrative literary elements. A migratory dialectic theory and border semiosis theory will establish the macro- and micro- structures of border narrative difference for further research of border narratives. In this paper, I will examine Castillo’s novel as an example of a border narrative that creates the aesthetic rendering of border thinking. Border thinking is invoked in So Far from God through linguistic heterogeneity, multiple referential codes in dialectical convergences, and dialectic practices needed for ideologically transformed characters and ultimately for the novel’s readers.
I am going to post my notes on a discussion at Portland State University 2/12/15 on Adorno’s Minima Moralia. This was a first discussion, just a couple of people F2F. Would anyone like to add commentary? We began by noticing Adorno’s use of aphorism; are his aphorisms an attempt to capture dialectical thought through style? […]
“Dialect.” Victorian Literature and Culture. Forthcoming (Fall/Winter 2018).
“Linguistic Self-Fashioning in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton.” Dialect and Literature in the Long Nineteenth Century. Ed. Jane Hodson. New York, NY: Routledge, …
I serve as a member of the Modern Language Association’s Delegate Assembly, representing the Executive Committee on Language Change. My research combines literary criticism and sociolinguistics to re-evaluate how dialect works in nineteenth-century British literature and culture. I am currently finishing my first book, Dialect Acts: Identity Performance on the Victorian Page and Stage.
…Rhetorics of Literacy: The Cultivation of American Dialect Poetry (The Ohio State University Press)
My work focuses on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American literature and culture, especially poetry. In my first book, Rhetorics of Literacy: The Cultivation of American Dialect Poetry (The Ohio State University Press, 2013), I argued that dialect poetry functioned in the turn-of-the-century US in surprising ways, challenging readers’ expectations of a light and entertaining subgenre. My current book project considers African American literary and cultural views of the politics of imperial Ethiopia from the 1860s to the 1930s, particularly as expressed in newspapers and magazines, reflecting an interest in periodical studies that has informed my research throughout my career.
Modern Chinese fiction dealing with cultural others can be taken as a lens through which to reread the cosmopolitan theory. At stake in the debate between communitarianism and liberalism are the viability of single cultural membership and its validity. Lao She’s Self-Sacrifice (1934) and Dr. Wen (1936-1937) question the viability of global cultural membership. For Lao She, cultural hotchpotch—as suggested by Salman Rushdie—is not an option. These novellas dramatize the dialectic between the global and the local at a crossroads of Chinese nationalism and Western imperialism. Lao She’s representation of Dr. Mao and Dr. Wen also pose challenging questions for his contemporaries and for twenty-first-century readers alike: Can one ever refuse to be defined by the local, either by birth or by acculturation? What are the implications and consequences if one so chooses?
The Forum on Language Change is accepting proposals on “Language Change and Boundaries in the U.S.” for the 2017 MLA in Philadelphia. We seek papers that examine how language change in the United States casts new light on the conventional boundaries between native and foreign language, first and second language, standard and non-standard language, language and dialect […]
The LLC Occitan forum seeks to promote scholarly activity regarding the language, literature, and culture of Occitania, those regions where langue d’oc (sometimes called Provençal, after one specific area, Provence) is and has been spoken. This language flourished in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, notably in the hands of the vernacular poets known as troubadours […]
Call for Abstracts for MLA 2016 in Austin, Texas MLA Sixteenth-Century French Literature Executive Committee Affect in Sixteenth-century France How is affect intersubjective, defined/undefined, related to emotion? Close or distant readings welcome. 200-word abstracts to Todd Reeser, firstname.lastname@example.org, by 3/15/15. Prefiguring “Disability” in Renaissance France How are monstrous, castrated, marginal, or otherwise “defective” bodies represented? […]
46th annual convention, NeMLA 2015 Toronto; April 30- May 3, 2015 Host institution: Ryerson University Panel: Embracing Language Musicality in L2 Classrooms This panel is sponsored by the area on pedagogy and professional The goal of this panel is to examine language musicality, both in terms of linguistic phenomena and as a teaching tool for […]