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“I am rather strong on Voyages and Cannibalism”: The other Dickens and other Victorians in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting

Abstract

This paper analyses Richard Flanagan’s novel Wanting (2008) as a narrative informed by a revisionary and critical attitude to nineteenth-century ideologies, which is common to, and, indeed, stereotypical in much neo-Victorian fiction. Drawing on the biographies of two eminent Victorians: Charles Dickens and Sir John Franklin, Flanagan constructs their fictional counterparts as split between a respectable, public persona and a dark, inner self. While all the Victorian characters are represented as “other” than their public image, the focus in the novel, and in this paper, is on Dickens’s struggle to reconcile social propriety with his personal discontent. Flanagan represents this conflict through Dickens’s response to the allegations that starving survivors of Franklin’s ill-fated Arctic expedition resorted to cannibalism. The zeal with which the Victorian writer refuted such reports reveals his own difficulty in living up to social and moral norms. The paper argues that the main link between the different narrative strands in the novel is the challenge they collectively pose to the distinction between the notions of civilization and savagery.

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On Writer’s Block: The Reflection of Lacanian Post-Structuralist Psychoanalysis in Paul Auster’s Oracle Night

Abstract

This paper deals with the reflection of Lacanian post-structuralist psychoanalysis in Paul Auster’s novel Oracle Night, with respect to the phenomenon of writer’s block. The paper argues that Auster’s novel is remarkably synchronized with the theoretical perspectives proposed by the noted psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, as the root of his protagonist’s inability to write is linked to the medium of written discourse, and the obstacles which the protagonist of his story faces are thus put within the confines of the protagonist’s psyche. Writer’s block is thus being examined with respect to the Lacanian concept known as the chain of signification, as it is much more noticeable in writers because their primary conduit for describing the exterior and interior world is discourse in its written form. Auster exceptionally mirrors Lacan’s view of a writer’s psyche and vividly explores the foundation of the inability to write with respect to the symbolic realm of human experience.

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Remediating Joyce’s Techno-Poetics: Mark Amerika, Kenneth Goldsmith, Mark Z. Danielewski

Abstract

This paper attempts to evaluate the legacy of James Joyce’s avant-gardism for the literary experimentation of Mark Amerika, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Mark Z. Danielewski, three contemporary American writers and artists, working a hundred years after the first of Joyce’s crucial four “shocks of the new” shook the foundations of fiction. In doing so, the paper attempts to bridge the divide between the historical avant-garde and the neo-avant-garde as defined by Renato Poggioli and Peter Bürger, and regarded disparagingly by critics like Robert Hughes. Positing a threefold legacy of Joyce’s “revolution of the word” in its treatment of writing as trace, forgery, and idiom, the paper discusses Amerika’s Grammatron, Goldsmith’s uncreative writing, and Danielewski’s House of Leaves as continuing in and expanding on the achievements of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. This they achieve by pursuing what Marjorie Perloff has termed “differential poetics” and N. Katherine Hayles has rethought as “Assemblage” – two poetic strategies dominant at the beginning of the 21st century.

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A Shadow of Truth: Honor Klein in Iris Murdoch’s A Severed Head

Abstract

Iris Murdoch’s novel A Severed Head (1961) is an example of convoluted relationships that may appear hilarious upon superficial analysis. A close reading, however, reveals the suffering triggered by the behaviour of the central characters. The most mysterious female protagonist, the sexually ambivalent Honor Klein, deploys a wide range of possible interpretations. Honor’s powerful figure is like an axis around which the rest of the characters rotate and without whom the plot would fall apart. The question is, nonetheless, if she is a real figure or not. This paper argues that this pivotal character is not a real person but a dreamy and ghostly concentration of elements in relation to the protagonist Martin Lynch-Gibbon. Honor Klein is a force, is suspicion, and fear, and seems to be an external projection of Martin’s subconscious imaginary fears and trauma. She has a similar narrative function as Shakespeare‘s ghosts in, e.g., Macbeth, Hamlet and Julius Caesar.

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Suburban Identity in the Poetry of John Updike

Abstract

This paper provides a close reading of a representative selection of suburban poems by the American writer John Updike (1932–2009). It also draws upon the existing scholarship by suburban studies historians (including Kenneth Jackson, Dolores Hayden, John Archer, and James Howard Kunstler), who have argued for the cultural importance of American suburbia in fostering identity, and develops the argument by literary critics including Jo Gill, Peter Monacell, and Robert von Hallberg, who have championed the existence of a viable suburban tradition in postwar American poetry. By scrutinizing poems from Updike’s early poetry, represented by “Shillington”, up to his closing lyric opus, “Endpoint”, the paper argues that Updike’s unrecognized importance is that of a major postwar poet whose lyric work chronicles, in memorable, diverse, and important ways, the construction of individual identity within suburbia, in a dominant setting for most Americans from the 1950s up to the present.

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Anxiety and Enjoyment in the Foreign Language Classroom

Abstract

To balance the research that has been carried out on negative emotions, the researchers in the field of second language acquisition (SLA) have recently focused on the role of positive academic emotions and their role in the process of acquiring a foreign language (FL). The aim of the present article is to examine the relationships between foreign language enjoyment (FLE), foreign language classroom anxiety (FLCA) and students’ academic achievement in English in order to prove that these two emotions do not constitute opposite dimensions but may converge and diverge from time to time during the learning process. This article calls for a more dynamic approach to studying emotions and investigating whether and to what extent these two emotions may mutually shape one another and thus affect learners’ achievement in the foreign language classroom.

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Being “completely half afraid to think”: Confronting the Absurd in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman

Abstract

In order to demonstrate an aspect in which the novel is relatable to the canon of absurdism and enrich the view of dimensions in which it functions, the purpose of the following article is a reading of Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman in relation to the Absurd as an ontological category of existentialism and absurdism. Firstly, some assumptions already made on account of the novel are introduced. Secondly, the relevant and chosen characteristics of the Absurd are summarized in relation to Kierkegaard’s and Camus’s conceptions of the Absurd. Then, the novel is interpreted in relation to the insufficiency of human knowledge and rational thought in terms of achieving comprehension transcending existence. Lastly, the novel is interpreted in relation to the narrator’s fear of death, with death as an element transcending existence and adding to its irrationality. Overall, the way in which the novel depicts a specific contraction resulting in the Absurd is illustrated.

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‘The Cake is (Not) a Lie:’ Intertextuality as a Form of Play in Digital Games

Abstract

Since Julia Kristeva’s first use of the term in the late 20th century, intertextuality has given rise to one of the literary theories most frequently applied in the interpretation of texts across different media, from literature to art and film. In what concerns the study of digital games, however, the concept has received little attention, in spite of the fact that the new medium offers a more than fertile ground for its investigation. The aim of the present essay, therefore, is to propose that digital games can be and, indeed, are intertextual in at least two ways. First, we argue, games deliberately refer to other games, which may or may not be a part of the same series. Secondly, they connect with texts from other media and specifically with literary texts. In both cases, the intertextual link can be a sign of tribute, a critical comment, or a means of self-reflection. Ultimately, however, these links are a form of aesthetic play that reveals new similarities between digital games and traditional media for artistic expression.

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The concept of happiness in Night Zoo

Abstract

This paper deals with a psychoanalytic interpretation of the titular story. It is part of the first volume in the Hungarian anthology series entitled Night Zoo – An Anthology of Women’s Sexuality (‘Éjszakai Állatkert – Antológia a női szexualitásról’). The analysis focuses on the story Night Zoo (‘Éjszakai Állatkert’) written by Zsófia Bán according to Freud’s personality theory. The theory regards our psyche as divided into three parts. The id is the instinctual part of our mind that represents our sexual and hidden desires, the superego contains the moral conscience and the norms, and the ego mediates between the wishes of the id and the rules of the superego. The chosen short story seems to revolve around unfulfilled love between two people. But after critical reading, it is obvious that this is not a love story of two people, but the relationship lies between the narrator and her unfulfilled desires. There is an immense conflict between instincts and social expectations. The narrator’s id has a desire; she just wants to be happy and have harmony in her life. But the superego does not allow her to fulfill the desire. The ego is therefore instrumental in deciding what the correct decision is.

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Cultural Encounters: Glimpses of the United States in Late Twentieth-Century Romanian Travel Narratives

Abstract

Travel narratives are complex accounts that include a significant layer of factual information – related to the geography, history, and/or the culture of a particular place or country – and a more personal layer, comprising the author’s unique perceptions and rendering of the travel experience. In the last thirty years of transition from a communist to a democratic society, the Romanians have been free to travel to any country they choose; however, during the communist period, especially during the 1980s, travelling to Western, capitalist countries, such as France, Great Britain, Canada, or the United States, was rather limited and fraught with complex issues. Still, Romanian travelers during that time managed to visit the United States, on diplomatic- or business-related exchanges, and published interesting travel stories of their experiences there. Therefore, this essay sets out to capture, from a comparative perspective, the impressions and encounters depicted by Radu Enescu in Between Two Oceans (1986), Ion Dinu in Traveler through America (1991) and Viorel Sălăgean in Hello America! (1992), with a view to analyzing how their descriptions and perceptions of two major urban spaces, New York City and San Francisco, reflect the complexity of the American social and cultural landscape in the late 1970s and mid-1980s.

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