Spring 2012 - Revolutions & Reversals
Volume 2, Issue 2
We chose the theme of revolutions and reversals during the high-point of the Arab Spring. The demonstrations and the resulting overthrow of oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen relied upon the power of the written word to effect these changes. We talked to our students about how the Egyptians and Tunisians used Facebook to organize demonstrations. We watched as the Egyptian government cut off access to these networks, to these texts, in order to stymie protests. Of course, the rebellions continued. We wondered how students of literature might be able to contribute to this discussion. We wanted to collect work that demonstrated how literature participates in revolutions and reversals both small and large.
Anna Imperial's essay The Archived Memory in Alexander Gumby's Collection of Negroiana: A Commentary on the Curious Meanderings of the American Temperament considers the work of Alexander Gumby, an openly gay sometimes-poet and college drop-out. She describes Gumby's collection of Negroiana as "a physical representation of the longing to participate and comment on the American cultural state" (Imperial 3). Imperial argues that this collection "convey[s] an unwritten history" that defies classification.
In More Tolerable Pain: Non-dialectic Subversion in Corregidora, Abigail Prang reads the novel through the lens of postmoderism and what she calls "non-dialectic subversion"; she resists the trends in recent scholarship that attempt to make binary, value-based judgments about Corregidoria, arguing that the novel does not "conflate" liberation and confinement; instead, it is a "paradoxical instance of both."
Kurt Fawver’s The Utopia of Sameness: Erasure of Hierarchy in the Work of Toni Morrison also considers the ways in which binaries fail to effectively communicate the complexities of human thought and experience. Fawver argues that Morrion's "concern lies with the very idea of rule as based upon othering and ideological identity-based divisions. Her texts implicitly condemn not only binary power structures, but all forms of hierarchical order that divide power and value unevenly" (Fawver 30).
Jun Ichikawa takes up the work of another well-known author, Mary Shelley, but seeks to recover Shelly's poetry in her essay Mary Shelley as Poet: The Contribution of "The Choice" to Mary Shelley Studies. Ichikawa argues that Shelley's poetry, which has received little critical attention, "gives us valuable insights into her other major works" and that her poems are valuable "both as independent work[s] and as a rich resource" for the study of her major works (Ichikawa 50).
Finally, Joseph Weidenboerner warns us in Hangers-on Heroes' Armour: Defining the Divide between Homeric and Celtic Clan Epics "never to allow the past to become as amalgamated as human memory often allows" (52) complicating our present understanding and classification of Homeric and Celtic Clan epics, cautiously urging literary critics to take note of the "essential differences between classical and clan epics," which are too often grouped together (62).
All of these articles do what all good literary criticism must: they complicate the way we read these texts and urge future scholars to consider these texts in new ways. Further, these authors illustrate the ways in which these texts make change or are change in and of themselves. These are the kinds of revolutions and reversals we hope literary criticism will continue to produce.