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Medusa’s Head: Boss Rattlers, Rattlesnake Queens, and Goddamn True Love in Harry Crews’s a Feast of Snakes


After his death in 2012, there has been a notable resurgence of both popular and critical interest in the fiction of American writer Harry Crews. Frequently discussed in the context of Southern gothic, Crews’s novels are notable for their grim and darkly funny tales of life among the rural poor in the worst hookworm and rickets part of Georgia, USA. Still, while the regional identity of Crews’s fiction is strong, his subtle and deeply sympathetic creative imagination tackles questions of universal significance.

In the novel A Feast of Snakes (1976), Crews’s finest and most multi-layered work, we are introduced to former high-school football quarterback Joe Lon Mackey on the eve of Mystic, Georgia’s annual Rattlesnake Roundup. Through his sensitive and deeply-felt portrayal of Joe Lon’s failed struggle to reconcile with the traumas of the past and establish meaning and a sense of purpose in life, a development culminating in the liquidation of a snake-handling preacher, a sheriff’s deputy, his own high-school sweetheart, and a random bystander, Crews not only explores the deterministic cultural and socio-economic attributes of the rural south, but also gives articulation to a reflective consciousness far more individuated and multifaceted than allowed for in recent critical discourse.

This sombre ending is perhaps what Todorov would term “the realization of an order always preordained,” but it would be a mistake to dismiss it as merely the inevitable outcome of yet another southern boy’s unarticulated rage against modernity. Struggling endlessly like the pitfighting dogs his daddy breeds, Joe Lon, entangled in the determinants of his existence, comes to give mimetic shape to a contemporary American identity both utterly strange and jarringly familiar.

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Epistemic Disobedience and Decolonial Healing in Norma Elía Cantú’s Canícula

/Global designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinking. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Mignolo, Walter. 2009. Epistemic disobedience, independent thought and de-colonial freedom. Theory, Culture & Society 26 (7-8): 1-23. Mignolo, Walter. 2011. The darker side of modernity: Global futures, decolonial options. Durham & London: Duke University Press. Pratt, Mary Louise. 1999. Arts of the Contact Zone. In David Bartholomae & Anthony Petrosky (eds.) Ways of reading. 5th edn. New York: Bedford

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

: 10.1163/156852908X357425 Hunt, Maurice. 2011. Syncretistic religion in Shakespeare’s late romances. South Central Review 28(2). 57–79. DOI: 10.1353/scr.2011.0019 Jensen, Phebe. 2004. Singing psalms to horn-pipes: Festivity, iconoclasm, and Catholicism in The Winter’s Tale . Shakespeare Quarterly 55(3). 276–306. Joughin, John J. 2000. Shakespeare, modernity and the aesthetic: Art, truth and judgment in The Winter’s Tale . In Hugh Grady (ed.), Shakespeare and modernity: Early modern to millennium , 61–84. London: Routledge. Lindenbaum

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Wading through black jade in Marianne Moore’s sunken cathedral: The modernist sea poem as a Deleuzian fold

. Irigaray, Luce. 1991 [1980]. Marine lover: Of Friedrich Nietzsche . (Trans. Gilliam C. Gill.) New York: Columbia University Press. Leavell, Linda. 2013. Holding on upside down: The life and work of Marianne Moore . New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Lima, José Lezama. 1993 [1957]. La curiosidad baroqua. In Irlemar Chiampi (ed.), La expressión americana , 79–106. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Kaup, Monika. 2012. Neobaroque in the Americas: Alternative modernities in literature, visual art and film . Charlottesville, VA: University of

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The Absurd as a Representation: Towards a Hermeneutics of the Inexplicable (The Problematic Case of Godot)

of Chicago Press. Oppo, Andrea. 2008. Philosophical aesthetics and Samuel Beckett. Bern: Peter Lang. Philips, James. 2009. Beckett’s boredom. In Barbara Dalle Pezze & Carlo Salzani (eds.), Essays on boredom and modernity. (Critical Studies Series.) Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi. Wolosky, Shira. 1995. Language mysticism: The negative way of language in Eliot, Beckett, and Celan. California: Stanford University Press.

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Re-Constructing the Self in Language and Narrative in Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation: a Life in a New Language and Anaїs Nin’s Early Diaries

. Eakin, John Pau. 2008. Living autobiographically: How we create identity in narrative. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Firmat, Gustavo Pérez. 2003. Tongue ties: Logo-eroticism in Anglo-Hispanic literature. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Hall, Stuart. 1992. The question of cultural identity. In Tony McGrew, Stuart Hall & David Held (eds.), Modernity and its futures, 273-326. Cambridge: Polity Press. Hall, Stuart. 1997. Introduction. In Stuart Hall (ed.), Representation: Cultural representation and signifying practices, 1-12. London

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Hawthorne’s Perspectival Perversity: What if “Wakefield” Were (About) a Woman?; or, Credo Quia Absurdum

. Bussaco, Michael C. 2009 Heritage Press sandglass companion book . Archibald, PA: Tribute Books. Casarino, Cesare 2002 Modernity at sea: Melville, Marx, Conrad in crisis. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Cixous, Hélène 1997 “The laugh of the Medusa”, in: Robyn R. Warhol - Diane Price Herndl (eds.), 347-362. Codrescu, Andrei 2004 Wakefield . Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Craig, Megan 2010 Levinas and James: Toward a pragmatic phenomenology . Bloomington, IN: Indiana

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Junípero Serra’s Canonization or Eurocentric Heteronomy

: Heyday Books. McWilliams, Carey. 1968 [1949]. North from Mexico: The Spanish-speaking people of the United States . New York, NY: Greenwood Press. McWilliams, Carey. 1994 [1946]. Southern California: An island on the land . Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith. Menchaca, Martha. 2001. Recovering history, constructing race: Indian, Black, and White roots of Mexican Americans . Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Mignolo, Walter D. 2011. The darker side of Western modernity: Global futures, decolonial options . Durham, NC & London: Duke

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