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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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The Concept of the Relative Adjective

Abstract

This article aims to give a cognitive linguistic account of the dual nature of the concept of relative adjectives, and the specific character of their semantic processes. After a brief discussion of the adjectival character of the relative subclass, it will be argued that denominal relative adjectives belong to the class of predicate words (i.e., words denoting property and hence forming a predicate concept), while retaining, on the other hand, the substantive nature of the basic noun’s concept. Further, two subclasses of relative adjectives are contrasted in view of their cognitive processes: substancepredicate, denoting a certain substance of which an object is made, and argumentpredicate, denoting an object the relation to which becomes a property of another object. The substance-predicate group of relative adjectives will be analyzed as having the properties of qualitative adjectives, as they clarify their meanings in discourse due to the operation of profiling the landmark properties on the base of the trajector of the described object. On the other hand, the conceptual entity of argument-predicate relative adjectives can be described by means of the theory of conceptual integration. Argument-predicate adjectives in discourse form a new conceptual blend that is the result of mapping the mental spaces of the predicate concept and the concept of the described noun. The relation between the two objects that appears in the blend forms the context meaning of the adjective

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