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‘And Yet, What Would We Be Without Memory?’ Visualizing Memory in Two Canadian Graphic Texts

Abstract

Since “we live in a culture of confession” (Gilmore 2001: 2; Rak 2005: 2) a rapidly growing popularity of various forms of life writing seems understandable. The question of memory is usually an important part of the majority of autobiographical texts. Taking into account both the popularity of life writing genres and their recent proliferation, it is interesting to see how the question “what would we be without memory?” (Sebald 1998 [1995]: 255) resonates within more experimental auto/biographical texts such as a graphic memoir/novel I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (2006) by Bernice Eisenstein and a volume of illustrated poetry and a biographical elegy published together as Correspondences (2013) by Anne Michaels and Bernice Eisenstein. These two experimental works, though representing disparate forms of writing, offer new stances on visualization of memory and correspondences between text and visual image. The aim of this paper is to analyze the ways in which the two authors discuss memory as a fluid concept yet, at the same time, one having its strong, ghostly presence. The discussion will also focus on the interplay between memory and postmemory as well as correspondences between the texts and the equally important visual forms accompanying them such as drawings, portraits, sketches, and the bookbinding itself.

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“Behold, and Say ‘Tis Well”: The Redemptive Moment in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale

Abstract

In Shakespeare’s romance The Winter’s Tale there is a fundamental sense of mutability imposed by the passage of time. Things come into being and they pass into oblivion; sorrow glazed over by prayers for grace, joy tempered by the remembrance of loss. Within a complex time-scheme of past, present, and future, joy and sorrow remain inextricably entwined, and this is what lends this most melancholy play such a profound emotional intensity.

Youth, beauty, happiness; these qualities remain evanescent at the somber close of the play. Tragedy is not purged by laughter, there are no traces of escapism; the awareness of the reality of time, of the inexorable moral responsibility for losses beyond recovery, is what makes the graces received all the more keenly felt, more wondrous. This sense of wonder arises from an elaborate resurrection scene in which, simultaneously cold and warm, at once eternal and ephemeral, Hermione’s marble, the finest symbol of the romance conception of time, is wooed into being.

Exploring the structural function of time in the play and its relation to this redemptive moment, in which Hermione’s body comes to represent a translation into human terms of a Neoplatonic idea of cosmic order, reveals how the play, beyond offering an idle meditation on art and nature, articulates a profoundly moral vision of existence, and will supply a useful framework for further critical investigations of both the play itself and Shakespearean romance as a whole.

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Demetaphorization, Anatomy, and the Semiotics of the Reformation in Early Modern Revenge Tragedy

Abstract

Reformation theology induced a profound thanatological crisis in the semiotics of the human being and the body. The Protestant Reformation discontinued numerous practices of intercession and communal ritual, and the early modern subject was left vulnerable in the face of death. The English Renaissance stage played out these anxieties within the larger context of the epistemological uncertainties of the age, employing violence and the anatomization of the body as representational techniques. While theories of language and tragic poetry oscillated between different ideas of imitatio (granting priority to the model) and mimesis (with preference for the creative and individual nature of the copy), the new anatomical interest and dissective perspectives also had their effects on the rhetorical practices of revenge tragedies. In the most shocking moments of these plays, rhetorical tropes suddenly turn into grisly reality, and figures of speech become demetaphorized, literalized. In a double anatomy of body and mind, English Renaissance revenge tragedy simultaneously employs and questions the emblematic and poetic traditions of representation, and the ensuing indeterminacy and ambiguity open paths for a new mimesis.

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The Grendelkin and the Politics of Succession at Heorot: The Significance of Monsters in Beowulf

Abstract

The article considers the significance of the Grendelkin as monsters, bringing to attention the Isidorian understanding of the monster as a sign, portent, and admonition. In the original Beowulf the Grendelkin are not described as possessing many of the inhuman qualities that have been applied to them in the later critical tradition or by its translators. Isidore acknowledges in Etymologies that monsters are natural beings, whose function in the system of creation is significant. The present article considers the significance of the Grendelkin in the poem and argues that Grendel and his mother function as signs underlying themes of feud and succession in the poem. The article also brings attention to the multiple references to body parts, such as hands, and their function within the poem as synecdochic representations of the Danish body politic. The article explores the sexualised and gendered perception of the body politic in the poem.

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The Morphosemantic Transparency/Opacity of Novel English Analogical Compounds and Compound Families

Abstract

This study deals with novel English analogical compounds, i.e. compounds obtained via either a unique model (e.g. beefcake after cheesecake) or a schema model: e.g., green-collar based on white-collar, blue-collar, pink-collar, and other X-collar compounds. The study aims, first, to inspect whether novel analogical compounds maintain the same degree of morphosemantic transparency/opacity as their models, and, second, to find out the role played by the compound constituents in the constitution of compound families, such as X-collar and others. To these aims, the study proposes a scale of morphosemantic transparency/opacity for the analysis of compound constituents. In particular, the compound constituents in our database (115 examples) are analysed in connection with: 1) their degree of transparency (vs. opacity, including metaphorical/metonymic meaning), linked to their semantic contribution in the construction of the whole compound’s meaning, and 2) their part-of-speech. Against the common assumption that productive word-formation rules mostly create morphosemantically transparent new words, or that rule productivity is closely connected with transparency, the study of our database demonstrates that novel analogical compounds tend to maintain the same transparency/opacity degree as their models. It also shows that, in nuclear families and subfamilies of compounds, the part-of-speech of the constituents, their degree of transparency/opacity, and their semantic relation are reproduced in all members of the analogical set.

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Patterns of Pronunciation of English Interdental Fricatives by Some Yoruba Speakers of English in a Nigerian University

Abstract

This paper is an investigation of the pronunciation patterns of English interdental fricatives by some Yoruba speakers of English at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. This was with a view to finding out the extent to which gender, the level of education, and the position in words of the interdental fricatives (i.e., the (th) variable as in think, pathetic, and path on the one hand, and the (dh) variable as in then, father, and clothe on the other hand) could affect the realisations of these two fricatives, otherwise known as (th) and (dh) variables. Data eventually used for this study were drawn from the reading performance of thirty-three informants who were of Yoruba origin. The thirty-three informants comprised 20 male and 13 female subjects with different levels of education ranging from undergraduate to doctoral. Our findings indicated that the (dh) variable was significantly affected by gender while the (th) variable was not. It was also demonstrated that while the (th) was significantly affected by the level of education of informants, the (dh) variable had no statistically significant association with the speakers’ level of education. Finally, the results of the study revealed that the position in a word (whether initial, medial, or final) of each of the variables affected the realisations of the two variables significantly. It was therefore concluded that sociolinguistic variables such as gender and the level of education were capable of affecting the rendition of linguistic variables significantly.

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Reanimating the English Historical Novel in the Twenty-First Century – The Case of David Mitchell’s the Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

Abstract

This article argues that David Mitchell’s novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010) represents a new variation of the genre of historical fiction. The historical novel in Britain has risen to prominence since the 1980s and in the twenty-first century this strong interest in the past continues. Placing David Mitchell’s book in the context of recent historical fiction, the article takes account of Joseph Brooker’s hypothesis that, together with Hilary Mantel’s Tudor novels, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet may be indicative of an emergent trend in the contemporary English historical novel. The purpose of the article is to identify and explore Mitchell’s key strategies of writing about history. It is argued that, departing from the prevalent mode of historiographic metafiction, Mitchell’s book adheres to some of the traditional tenets of the genre while achieving the Scottian aim of animating the past in innovative ways. The analysis leads to the conclusion that the use of the present tense, the subjective perspectives, and the exclusion of foreknowledge lend the novel dramatic qualities.

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The Round Allograph of in Late Middle English

Abstract

This paper discusses glyphs of the 2-shaped or “round” allograph of the grapheme <r> with a tag protruding from the lower part of the stem, asking whether their distribution in a corpus of some 600 late Middle English texts can be meaningfully related to these texts’ localisation in A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English. It discusses what localisation expresses, and uses regression modelling to show that there is no co-variation between the texts’ paleography and their orthography, although there is a measure of correlation between them. The evidence in favour is that the quantitative analysis identifies localisation in northings as a predictor of the occurrence of the tagged form of the allograph, which occurs at a higher frequency in texts localised below the Midlands line at c. 300 northings. The evidence against is the form’s scattered distribution according to the localisation variable where co-variation would imply a more clear-cut concentration of points, and also the moderate success at explaining the form’s distribution by means of variables known to explain orthographic variation.

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“Speaking Pictures”: Ways of Seeing and Reading in English Renaissance Culture

Abstract

Neither in Antiquity nor in the Middle Ages could literary theory settle the debate about the primacy of inspiration or imitation, Plato or Aristotle. It was in the Renaissance that serious efforts were made to reconcile the two theories, and one of the best syntheses came from England. Philosophical and aesthetical syncretism between Plato and Aristotle makes Sidney’s Defense of Poesie a non-dogmatic and particularly inspiring foundation for English literary theory. Also, Philip Sidney’s notion of “speaking pictures” needs to be revisited, in view of the ontology and epistemology of art, as a ground-breaking model for understanding the multimediality of cultural representations. The first part of the following essay is devoted to this. Furthermore, it will be examined how Sidney’s visual poetics influenced and at the same time represented emblematic ways of seeing and thinking in Elizabethan culture. These are particularly conspicuous in the influence of emblem theory in England and in Renaissance literary practice related to that. In the final section I intend to show that Shakespeare’s intriguing, although implicit, poetics is a telling example of how Renaissance visual culture enabled a model that put equal stress on inspiration and imitation, and also on the part of the audience, whose imagination had (and still has) to work in cooperation with the author’s intention.

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