721-740 of 903 Results

Article

Roethke, Theodore  

Gerry Cambridge

Not long before his premature deathin 1963 at the age of fifty-five, Theodore Roethke (pronounced “Rett-key”) gave a reading in Seattle, which was reported in the local press anonymously under the title “Voice of Balder Through Mouth of Groucho.” It described the overweight poet “straining out of his tux like a precocious panda,” and compared him to a juggler: the poet as a sort of vaudeville act who, at intervals, smuggled in readings from his greatest poems.

Article

Romance  

Cyrus Mulready

“Romance” is a term that has been variously applied to long-form verse narratives, episodic prose narratives, drama, stories from late Greek antiquity, and a popular subgenre of contemporary mass market fiction. In the 18th and 19th centuries it vied with “novel” as the standard term for the genre (before the latter won out to become part of our common vocabulary). Romance has also become a standard division of Shakespeare’s works, a dramatic genre that, beginning in the 19th century, stood alongside comedy, tragedy, and history as one of the cornerstones of the canon. Indeed, readers and scholars use “romance” so promiscuously as to suggest the near impossibility of drawing its definition with any clarity or meaning. Is the word merely an empty signifier for an incoherent concept? A vague label that is “generic” in the most unhelpful sense? Perhaps, contrarily, “romance” has power as a label because of its variability and range. On a practical level, understanding the pliant ways that readers, publishers, and writers have used this term provides insight to one of the richest (and perhaps oldest) veins of storytelling. Romance also gives us a view of how those same traditions ultimately derive from more ancient and esoteric forms. As it relates to a theory of genre, too, romance has been indispensable. Two of the most important treatments of genre theory, by Northrop Frye and Fredric Jameson, center on romance as a literary and historical practice. To study romance is therefore to study the shapes and traditions of genre itself; to theorize romance is to provide a history and conceptual framework for how genres have worked and continue to work within storytelling practices.

Article

Roth, Henry  

Lani Wolf

Henry Roth, one of the twentieth century's most important Jewish authors, is known primarily for his first novel and masterpiece, Call It Sleep (1934), the story of a young Jewish boy named David Schearl growing up in a New York ghetto in the years before World War I. Sixty years would pass before the publication of his next major work, the first volume of Mercy of a Rude Stream, intended to be a series of six novels portraying the artistic, sexual, spiritual, and emotional development from childhood to old age of the protagonist, Ira Stigman. Both Call It Sleep and Mercy of a Rude Stream portray the immigrant experience, specifically that of the eastern European Jew, as an attempt to escape the trauma of one's social and familial environments. Both are also intensely psychological novels, exploring the development of an extremely perceptive and sensitive protagonist seeking enlightenment and personal redemption. Perhaps most importantly, both are great acts of memory and confession, not only for the protagonists but for the author himself.

Article

Roth, Philip  

William H. Pritchard

Philip Roth's literary career is extra-ordinary in a number of ways other than its continued production of surprising, vital, imaginative works. It began when his first book, Goodbye, Columbus, a novella and five stories, won the National Book Award for 1959; it reached a peak of notoriety ten years later when Portnoy's Complaint became not only a best-seller but also a portent of the decay of American youth. (Students now came to college, declared Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, with pot and Portnoy secreted in their suitcases.) The career's most recent stage, beginning in 1993, shows a writer in his seventh decade who brought out no less than six novels, all of them distinctive, three of them possible examples of masterwork. At his seventieth birthday in March 2003, he stood as a writer who has exhibited astonishing staying power, but also one who has deepened, extended, and invariably transformed himself.

Article

de Burton, María Amparo Ruiz  

Beatrice Pita

The novels The Squatter and the Don (1885) and Who Would Have Thought It? (1872), written by María Amparo Ruiz de Burton (1832–1895), are the first novels written in English from the pen and perspective of a Mexican American woman. The author, born in Mexican Baja California, came to Northern California after the 1846–1848 Mexican American War, marrying US Army Captain Henry S. Burton. An extraordinarily talented woman, Ruiz de Burton addresses crucial issues of ethnicity, power, gender, class, and race in dialogue with a number of contemporary 19th-century discourses—political, juridical, economic, commercial, and literary—all to voice the bitter resentment of the Californios faced with despoliation and the onslaught of Anglo-American domination in the aftermath of annexation to the United States. Hers is a strong, distinctive—and notably—female voice with a critical Mexican American perspective; her novels have served to shift the benchmarks of US literature and 19th-century literary scholarship, moving it further away from an Anglo-centered, East Coast, and mostly male-centered canon. Her writings have been productive sites against which to reread both canonical and newly emerged texts. By addressing US government policies, and in that regard, racial, ethnic, and class formations, as well as foregrounding gender issues, Ruiz de Burton’s works have problematized and enriched the US literary and cultural landscape. Her rediscovered novels were republished (in 1992 and 1995, respectively) by Sánchez and Pita and have become key elements in better understanding US 19th-century literary history.

Article

Rukeyser, Muriel  

Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller

As expansive as Whitman, as subversive as Dickinson, Muriel Rukeyser pursued a prescient engagement with the limitations, but also the possibilities, of the American imagination. Her poems grapple with the connections between love and revolution, between poetry and political action; between the private life of the individual and the communal life of the species, between the searching for truth(s) in both art and science, and between what Rukeyser called “verifiable fact”—documents, statistics—and “unverifiable fact”—memories, myths, and dreams. She spoke out, in her writing and in her life, against war, sexism and homophobia, xenophobia, racism, (trans)gender and body discrimination, and the suppression of what has been buried or lost in American culture and created a body of work that continues to be a model of independence, insight, and inspiration for poets, scholars, and theorists. Her best known poems include “Poem Out of Childhood”; “Effort at Speech Between Two People”; “Theory of Flight”; “Homage to Literature”; “The Book of the Dead”; “Boy with His Hair Cut Short”; “Ajanta”; “Letter to the Front” with its sonnet,” “To be a Jew in the twentieth century”; “Nine Poems for the unborn child”; Elegies; “Night Feeding”; “Waterlily Fire”; “The Poem as Mask”; “The Outer Banks”; “Akiba”; “Käthe Kollwitz”; “Waking This Morning”; “Despisals”; “Myth”; “Searching/Not Searching”; “Ballad of Orange and Grape”; “Wherever”; “St. Roach”; “Double Ode”; “Islands”; “Then”; and “The Gates”; her best-known prose work is The Life of Poetry.

Article

Russian Epistolary Writing from the Middle Ages to the Turn of the 19th Century  

Kelsey Rubin-Detlev

Epistolary writing is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Russia’s contributions to world literature—despite the landmark theoretical work of the Russian Formalists in the 1920s, which presciently highlighted the literary interest of the letter and paved the way for the explosion of scholarship on epistolarity in the West in the late 20th century. Nevertheless, the epistolary mode has accompanied and helped to shape Russian literature since its beginnings. For many centuries, epistolary texts offered a space for unusually vivid expressions of unique authorial selves while at the same time encouraging self-conscious play with literary form. Within a century of the adoption of writing by the Eastern Slavs in the mid-10th century, people across the social spectrum were writing letters on birchbark; in the Middle Ages, when Russian writing aimed above all to teach religious truths and build a Christian community, epistolary forms facilitated the creation of exceptionally individualized representations of the author(s) and/or addressee(s) of letters. In the early modern period, epistolary forms played an important role in the development of literature, since they were among the first types of text to be recognized as distinct genres. The late 18th and early 19th centuries witnessed the heyday of the European-style familiar letter, which became a primary literary genre through which elite writers maintained emotional, social, and professional ties, projected a sophisticated self-image, and wrestled with the implications of Russia’s participation in Western cultural life.

Article

Russian Modernist Theater  

Alisa Ballard Lin

Few theatrical epochs have had the lasting international impact of Russian modernist theater. The two most influential theater directors to emerge from this era, Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vsevolod Meyerhold, continue to provide rich fodder in their acting theories and performance practices for contemporary theater creators worldwide. Meanwhile, the early 20th century in Russian theater was a time of fierce theoretical and practice-based polemics, rapid technological development, and monumental shifts in theatrical practice as actors were trained in specific internal and external (bodily) techniques and directors took on increasingly more importance for the creative design of a production. At the same time, popular theater was a major avenue of theatrical development in the era, with cabaret and other minor forms enjoying great popularity in Russia and on tours abroad, while avant-garde artists like the Russian futurists created shocking street-based performance art that capitalized on the modernist sense of newness and rejection of the past. Points of debate in studies of Russian modernist theater include disagreement over the definition of what counts as modernist and how seriously to take the polarization and polemics that these theater artists themselves espoused. While modernist theater in Europe is known for its emphasis on closet drama, on grand experiments that were ultimately unperformable, and on mistrust of language and representation, performance practice took a related but different path in Russian culture in the first decades of the 20th century. Despite a great diversity of performance styles, venues, and audiences, theater in the age of Russian modernism unifies around a few key points. First, it placed great emphasis on honing and highlighting the various physical and mental skills of the actor. Second, Russian modernist theater generally valued language and the literary tradition, both Russian and global, despite some efforts to break with literature in theater. Third, theater of this era presented a tone of irony, self-consciousness, and theatricalism. In all its manifestations, it was experimental and self-reflexive, interrogating theater’s relationship to the world and boldly devising new forms. Fourth, Russian modernist theater was richly integrated into its artistic, intellectual, and political context, with ties to science, philosophy, psychology, visual arts, music, dance, film, and literature. Theater came to serve the political ends of the young Soviet nation in the 1920s, though politics were not a predominant force in theater throughout Russian modernism. Theater was not immediately strongly affected by the Russian Revolution of 1917, but by the end of the 1920s, theater was forced to bend to the strong will of Soviet censors, and by the mid-1930s, theatrical innovation was greatly diminished under Stalin-era censorship and its insistence on the style of socialist realism, as well as the general threat of the Stalinist Terror.

Article

Russian Poetry and Cold War Politics in the West  

Emily Lygo

The reception of Soviet and Russian poetry in the West was shaped by the binary nature of Cold War politics no less than other fields of culture and sport. Indeed, the associations between poetry and authenticity meant poetry was especially significant as testimony. In the USSR itself, writers’ memoirs were some of the most important texts published in this era, speaking as they did of the personal experience of the Stalin period that had not been expressed before. Konstantin Paustovsky and Il’ya Ehrenburg, for example, published multivolume memoirs during this period, both of which were translated into English and published in the West. A similar focus on individuals and testimony is reflected in the framing of works of Russian literature in English translation. In 1964, Max Hayward and Patricia Blake’s selection of Russian writers was entitled Dissonant Voices, while George Luckyj’s study of non-Russian Soviet literature in 1975 was entitled Discordant Voices. Also in 1964, the translation of the anthology Tarusskie stranitsy was given an additional subtitle, “new voices in Russian writing.” The idea of the individual voice, which is clearly found in lyric poetry of course, was central to the preoccupation with finding an authentic expression of Russia that would be a counterpoint to the Soviet official one. After the death of Stalin, the voices of poets writing in the USSR who had been censored by the authorities were recovered by academics and émigré Russians: Boris Pasternak’s novel Dr. Zhivago and its poems and the poetry of Osip Mandel’shtam and Anna Akhmatova were amplified in the Western media as voices that could express authentically the suffering, injustice, and inhumanity of the Stalinist system. In the case of Dr. Zhivago, the CIA also worked clandestinely to ensure it was published and distributed in the West. The fact that these works remained only partially published in the USSR fueled the ongoing criticism of the Soviet government’s repressive nature. At the same time, young poets such as Evgenii Evtushenko and Andrei Voznesensky, publishing some poetry that challenged Stalinist norms and criticized the past, were fêted by the Western media. They were subject to political censorship, of course, and had to compromise with the authorities in order to pursue their careers. Across the Cold War years there was a hardening of opinions in the West toward poets who compromised with the regime, and support for those such as Natalia Gorbanevskaya who fought for human rights in the USSR and were prepared to suffer imprisonment for their principles. Uncensored poetry, smuggled out to the West, was published and often accompanied by stories of arrest and imprisonment and sadistic practices in psychiatric hospitals. Poets were among the writers who began to emigrate, too, forming the third wave of Russian emigration; Joseph Brodsky arrived in the USA in 1972 already well known for his trial by the authorities and time spent in northern exile as punishment. Stories of persecution, and poetry written in the Gulag or prison, were undeniably testament to the tyranny of the Soviet government, and could even play a political role themselves: Irina Ratushinskaya’s release from the Gulag in 1986 may have been influenced by the publication of her work and campaigns for her release in the West. The CIA and other intelligence agencies financed cultural institutions such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) in order to promote and amplify criticism and damning evidence of Soviet illiberalism; this meant that poetry and literature that served the cause of anti-Soviet agitation was perhaps more easily accepted for publication, and more widely translated and promoted. Such manipulation of cultural organs, for example the high-profile and high-quality magazine Encounter funded by the CIA, does not detract from the quality of work produced by its contributors, most of whom were unaware of the financial backdrop. Joseph Brodsky’s poetry, awarded the Nobel Prize in 1987, is no less talented for being read and discussed in the context of anti-Soviet discussion; indeed, Brodsky himself wrote against tyranny and criticized the USSR. Nonetheless, the story of Russian poetry in the Cold War cannot be told without acknowledging its interactions with politics.

Article

The Salem Witch Trials  

Abram C. Van Engen

The Salem witch trials have gripped American imaginations ever since they occurred in 1692. At the end of the 17th century, after years of mostly resisting witch hunts and witch trial prosecutions, Puritans in New England suddenly found themselves facing a conspiracy of witches in a war against Satan and his minions. What caused this conflict to erupt? Or rather, what caused Puritans to think of themselves as engaged, at that moment, in such a cosmic battle? These are some of the mysteries that the Salem witch trials have left behind, taken up and explored not just by each new history of the event but also by the literary imaginations of many American writers. The primary explanations of Salem set the crisis within the context of larger developments in Puritan society. Though such developments could be traced to the beginning of Puritan settlement in New England, most commentators focus on shifts occurring near the end of the century. This was a period of intense economic change, with new markets emerging and new ways of making money. It was also a time when British imperial interests were on the rise, tightening and expanding an empire that had, at times, been somewhat loosely held together. In the midst of those expansions, British colonists and settlers faced numerous wars on their frontiers, especially in northern New England against French Catholics and their Wabanaki allies. Finally, New England underwent, resented, and sometimes resisted intense shifts in government policy as a result of the changing monarchy in London. Under James II, Massachusetts Bay lost its original charter, which had upheld the Puritan way for over fifty years. A new government imposed royal rule and religious tolerance. With the overthrow of James II in the Glorious Revolution, the Massachusetts Bay government carried on with no official charter or authority from 1689 until 1691. When a new charter arrived during the midst of the Salem witch hunt, it did not restore all the privileges, positions, or policies of the original “New England Way,” and many lamented what they had lost. In other words, in 1692, New England faced economic, political, and religious uncertainty while suffering from several devastating battles on its northern frontier. All of these factors have been used to explain Salem. When Governor William Phips finally halted the trials, nineteen had been executed, five had died in prison, and one man had been pressed to death for refusing to speak. Protests began almost immediately with the first examinations of the accused, and by the time the trials ended, almost all agreed that something had gone terribly wrong. Even so, the population could not necessarily agree on an explanation for what had occurred. Publishing any talk of the trials was prohibited, but that ban was quickly broken. Since 1695, interpretations have rolled from the presses, and American literature—in poems, plays, and novels—has attempted to make its own sense and use of what one scholar calls the mysterious and terrifying “specter of Salem.”

Article

Salinas, Raúl  

Louis G. Mendoza

The poetry, memoirs, essays, letters, prison journalism, and other forms of writing by Raúl Salinas (1934–2008) were grounded in his commitments to social justice and human rights. He was an early pioneer of contemporary Chicano pinto (prisoner) poetry whose work was characterized by a vernacular, bilingual, free verse aesthetics. Alongside other notables like Ricardo Sánchez, Luis Talamentez, Judy Lucero, and Jimmy Santiago Baca, Salinas helped make Chicana and Chicano prisoner rights an integral part of the agenda of the Chicana/o Movement through his writing and activism while incarcerated (1959–1972) and following his release. He was also a prolific prose writer in prison, and much of his journalism, reflective life writing, essays, and letters from his archives were published following his release. As important as his literary and political production in prisons was for establishing his literary recognition, it is important to note that the scope of his writing expands well beyond his prison experience. Though his literary and political interventions were important to a still emergent Chicana and Chicano literary, cultural, and political aesthetic, he was influenced by, but was not limited to, American and Latin American literary traditions. Given the scope of his life’s work, his indigenous and internationalist commitments, Salinas’ literary output make him a Xicanindio (indigenous identified Chicano) poet, a Latino internationalist, as well as a spoken word jazz and hip-hop artist whose work engaged, adapted and transformed elements of the American literary canon.

Article

Salinger, J. D.  

Brian Henry

J. D. Salinger's biography is in many ways a nonbiography, for the writer's fiercely defended privacy has thwarted nearly all biographical efforts since the 1950s. Thus, the information available about Salinger's life is largely that which was available in the 1950s and 1960s, before he withdrew from public life and stopped publishing. Although he published into the 1960s, Salinger began to resist his status as a public figure in the early 1950s; he has never agreed to a conventional interview, has forbidden his publisher from putting his photograph on his books—his photograph appears only on the first two editions of his first book—and has denied permission to reprint his work in anthologies. It seems both unfortunate and admirable that one of America's most beloved and enduring writers would decide to disappear from view, leaving only his earlier works behind. (Although he has not published anything since 1965, Salinger reportedly continues to write for pleasure.)

Article

Sandburg, Carl  

Robert M. Dowling

Carl Sandburg was a poet, political activist, journalist, biographer, historian, traveling troubadour, honorary Ph.D. many times over, and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He published eleven books of poetry over a sixty-year period, and though he also published songbooks, children's books, compilations of his journalism, a six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, and a lengthy novel, he continues to be remembered best as the United States' great “Poet of the People.” His finest collections of poetry include Chicago Poems (1916); Cornhuskers (1918); Smoke and Steel (1920); Slabs of the Sunburnt West (1922); Good Morning, America (1928); The People, Yes (1936); his Pulitzer Prize–winning Complete Poems (1950), which contains previously unpublished work; and his final performance, Honey and Salt (1963). Sandburg's great passion for American history ultimately inspired his monumental biography of Abraham Lincoln, which appeared in two installments: the two-volume Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (1926) and the four-volume Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), which won him a second Pulitzer Prize. His only novel, Remembrance Rock (1948), is a sweeping glance at America's past, covering the period from the Puritans' landing at Plymouth Bay to World War II and the dawn of the atomic age.

Article

Sanskrit Literary Theory  

Chettiarthodi Rajendran

Traditional Sanskrit literary theory has always tried to distinguish kāvya,a term often translated as poetry, but actually subsuming all creative literature including prose romance, biography, and drama, from other linguistic expressions like treatises of knowledge systems (śāstra) and narratives (ākhyāna). Though the treatises related to the topic were written in Sanskrit, they addressed Prakrit poetry also, and Sanskrit drama was always multilingual. Literary theorists of India have speculated on a variety of topics related to the nature, aims, genre, and constituent elements of literature, the equipments necessary for a poet, various levels of meaning, and the nature of aesthetic response. In their attempt to distinguish kāvya from other linguistic expressions, they have also formulated various concepts like poetic figures, stylistic features, suggestiveness, aesthetic emotion, propriety, and the like that they deem to be exclusive to poetry. Indian theorists took into account both the creative and receptive aspects of literature and the notion of the ideal reader is inherent in the discussions of poetry. Literary theory also armed itself with the insights it received from philosophical systems in dealing with the problems related to verbal cognition and aesthetic experience. The Kāvyālaṅkāra of Bhāmaha (6th century), the Kāvyādarśa of Daṇḍin (7th century), the Kāvyālaṅkārasārasamgraha of Udbhaṭa (8th century), the Kāvyālaṅkāasūtravṛtti ofVāmana (8th century),the Kāvyālaṅkāra of Rudraṭa (9th century), the Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana (9th century), the Kāvyamīmāmsā of Rājaśekhara (10th century), Vakroktijīvita of Kuntaka (10th century), the Locana commentary on Dhvanyāloka and theAbhinavabhāratī commentary on Nāṭyaśāstra of Abhinavagupta (11th century), the Vyaktiviveka of Mahimabhaṭṭa (11th century), the Kāvyaprakāśa of Mammaṭa (11th century), the Sāhityadarpaṇa of Viśvanātha (14th century), the Sarasvatīkaṇṭābharaṇa and Śṛṅgāraprakāśa of Bhoja (11th century),the Citramīmāmsā of Appayya Dīkṣita (16th–17th century), and the Rasagaṅgādhara Jagannātha Paṇḍita (17th century) are some of the seminal works in Indian literary theory.

Article

Satire  

Emmett Stinson

Although scholars generally agree that satire cannot be defined in a categorical or exhaustive way, there is a consensus regarding its major features: satire is a mode, rather than a genre; it attacks historically specific targets, who are real; it is an intentional and purposeful literary form; its targets deserve ridicule on the basis of their behavior; and satire is both humorous and critical by its nature. The specificity and negativity of satire are what separates it from comedy, which tends to ridicule general types of people in ways that are ultimately redemptive. Satire is also rhetorically complex, and its critiques have a convoluted or indirect relation to the views of the author. Satire’s long history, which is not straightforwardly linear, means that it is impossible to catalogue all of the views on it from antiquity through to modernity. Modern criticism on satire, however, is easier to summarize and has often made use of ancient satirical traditions for its own purposes—especially because many early modern theorists of satire were also satirists. In particular, modern satire has generated an internal dichotomy between a rhetorical tradition of satire associated with Juvenal, and an ethical tradition associated with Horace. Most criticism of satire from the 20th century onward repeats and re-inscribes this binary in various ways. The Yale school of critics applied key insights from the New Critics to offer a rhetorical approach to satire. The Chicago school focused on the historical nature of satirical references but still presented a broadly formalist account of satire. Early 21st century criticism has moved between a rhetorical approach inflected by poststructural theory and a historicism grounded in archival research, empiricism, and period studies. Both of these approaches, however, have continued to internally reproduce a division between satire’s aesthetic qualities and its ethical or instrumental qualities. Finally, there is also a tradition of Menippean satire that differs markedly in character from traditional satire studies. While criticism of Menippean satire tends to foreground the aesthetic potential of satire over and above ethics, it also often focuses on many works that are arguably not really satirical in nature.

Article

Scandal  

Tarek El-Ariss

What does scandal designate? Is it a narrative of moral outrage, a titillating spectacle of shame, or a violation that simultaneously unsettles and consolidates norms and traditions? Scandal as a phenomenon, event, and analytical category has been the focus of debates and representations in works by Kant, Heidegger, Rousseau, Sade, and Mme de Sévigné, as well as in The Arabian Nights. These engagements with scandal in philosophy, literature, and media constitute a genealogy if not a tradition that emphasizes the relations between scandal and the body, gender, story-telling, visuality, marginality, and power. From the body of Aphrodite that frames scandal in the Greek mythological context to the body of Egyptian activist and nude blogger Alyaa Elmahdi, adulterous affairs and fantasies of debauchery particularly have been used as instruments to critique the rich and powerful but also to oppress women and sexual minorities. What becomes of scandal in the age of the Internet, apps, and social media? The article examines whether the digital is bringing about the demise of scandal as an affective scene that generates outrage and condemnation but also as a model of telling and representing tied to antiquated reportage genres, gossip scenes, and fictional models.

Article

Schwartz, Delmore  

Frederick Ethan Fischer

Delmore Schwartz was the poet of nighttime New York, who at age twenty-five published In Dreams Begin Responsibilities (1938), a collection of poems, a verse drama, and the title story, to much acclaim—“more than has come to any other American poet of his generation since Auden,” wrote F. O. Matthiessen. A poet of consciousness, of intellect, and of city speech, Schwartz joins what he calls “the priceless particulars”—potatoes, subway grates, “The Beautiful American Word, Sure”—with ideas and abstractions, Time, History, Guilt. Into his poems enter Socrates, Freud, Marx, Orpheus, or Abraham, as a chorus that comments on the poet's origins.

Article

Science Fiction  

Gerry Canavan

Science fiction (SF) emerges as a distinct literary and cultural genre out of a familiar set of world-famous texts ranging from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) to Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek (1966–) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2008–) that have, in aggregate, generated a colossal, communal archive of alternate worlds and possible future histories. SF’s dialectical interplay between utopian optimism and apocalyptic pessimism can be felt across the genre’s now centuries-long history, only intensifying in the 20th century as the clash between humankind’s growing technological capabilities and its ability to use those powers safely or wisely has reached existential-threat propositions, not simply for human beings but for all life on the planet. In the early 21st century, as in earlier cultural moments, the writers and critics of SF use the genre’s articulation of different societies and different possible futures as the occasion to reflect on our own present, in ways that range from full-throated defense of the status quo to the ruthless denunciation of all institutions that currently exist in the name of some other, better world. SF’s global popularity has grown to the point where it now looms quite large over cultural production generally, becoming arguably the most popular narrative genre in existence, particularly in the sorts of SF action spectacles that have dominated the global box office of the first two decades of the 21st century. It has also become increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the things we used to think of as SF and the advanced communication, transportation, and entertainment technologies that have become so ubiquitous and familiar that we now take them for granted, as well as the growing prevalence of political, economic, and ecological crises now erupting out of the pages of our science fictions, like our very worst dreams come to life.

Article

The Scottish Printing Diaspora, 1840–1914  

David Finkelstein

Migration was a key tool for building the social, cultural, and economic infrastructures of the “British Dominions” throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Between 1840 and 1940, an estimated 15 million people left the British Isles for overseas destinations. Such displacement of people contributed both to what scholars term the “imperial diaspora” and the “labor diaspora” driven by economic necessity between 1840 and 1914. Print culture (and its practitioners) was crucial to these diasporas. And members of a highly skilled, mobile “printing diaspora” who could help construct and promote political and cultural identities through the agency of print were, from the outset, high on the preferred occupation list. Scottish printers were key players in such printing diaspora networks, both locally and internationally: individuals circulated between regional and overseas sites, acting as transmitters of print values and trade skills and becoming central to the expansion of labor interests in new territories. Such international circulation of highly skilled workers played its part in the development of 19th-century Anglophone print economies. Over the course of the long 19th century, either through their own initiative or supported by emigration and removal grant schemes, Scottish printers circulated across the English-speaking colonial world, setting up businesses, engaging in labor and union politics, and creating the print culture infrastructures that sustained social, communal, and national communication and identity. Sample data drawn from UK typographical union records offer some insight into the extraordinarily high levels of local, regional, and international mobility of skilled Scottish print trade workers during the 19th century. Such peregrinations were common. Indeed, the tramping tradition among skilled artisanal workers was one that dated back several centuries. Part of the so-called tramping system, which organized trade guilds and print trade unions in Britain used throughout the 19th century, it was a means of organizing and controlling labor activity in local and regional areas. The typographical unions in Ireland and Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) that developed from the midcentury onward encouraged such mobility among union members as a means of monitoring and controlling supply and demand for labor. Tramping typographers also acted as union missionaries, starting up unions in unserved towns along these regional networks and playing key roles as informants, cultural transmitters, and social networkers. Tramping, though, was only a part of the picture of worker mobility in the 19th-century Scottish printing trade diaspora. Printers participated in a communication and trade network that encompassed and supported skills transfer and personal mobility between printing centers locally, regionally, and internationally. They also were responsible for supporting cultural identities that linked overseas communities back to Scotland. Through them, trade, labor, and cultural practices and values were exported overseas and integrated into indigenous settings. Such migration also facilitated insertion of trade skills into local and general spaces and the transfer of knowledge and skills between incomer and indigenous workers. The various forms in which such identities were effectively supported and monitored shaped regional, national, and transnational flows of Scottish skills and labor traditions throughout the English-speaking world in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Article

The Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II, and Asian American Antifascism  

Christopher Vials

For most of the Asian and Asian American writers published in the United States from 1937–1946, “fascism” was the most salient, global state of emergency, not the Japanese American incarceration. H. T. Tsiang, Ayako Ishigaki, and Carlos Bulosan had deep ties to the political left, and they used antifascism—a dominant rubric of the political left at the time—to connect the authoritarian nature of Imperial Japan to the violent nature of the racism they encountered in the United States. By simultaneously accessing the Second Sino-Japanese War, their lived experiences in the United States, and the contradictions of US global power, they labored to overcome the split across Asian American communities produced by US foreign policy and Japanese militarism. By placing the work of Asian and Asian American writers within wider discourses of fascism and empire in the period, one sees the valence of antifascism as a vehicle of solidarity within their transnational politics, as well as the stakes of resituating that rubric into Asian American critique.