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Showing posts from October, 2014

“Finding a Voice: The Development of the American Novel”

      Watching a child grow and develop is an interesting evolution to witness. The most intriguing development is observing how the child finds her voice. Cultures are the same way. Every culture, every political climate, each nation has a voice of its own, unique from every other. These voices don’t come naturally or easily. The discovery is a long arduous task. The American culture and tradition is no different. There is a distinct quality to the American voice, regardless of the current political name-calling and side-taking, regardless of the economic situation of the country. There is a voice, an attitude that sets American fiction and poetry apart from other Western literature. This voice wasn’t discovered over-night. Over the 95 years between 1820 and 1915, the American literary tradition moved from the Picaresque to the Romantic, from the Romantic to the Naturalist,  from the Naturalist into the Realists, and from the Realist into the Modernist eras, carrying with it traditio

“Terry Eagleton’s literary ‘strategy’ in Moll Flanders”

      Does an author have a role in the creation of a narrative? Is it possible for an author to come up with a completely original idea? Does a story write itself?  If the answer to the first two questions is a “yes,” then readers are left with a fourth, even more-troublesome, question: How are we to read authorial intent in any piece of fiction? Literary theorist, Terry Eagleton, argues that “the literary work of art projects out of its own innards the very historical and ideological subtext to which it is a strategic reply” (170). If this be the case, how, then, are we to read Moll Flanders ? Does the fiction ever part from Defoe’s personal politics? If it does part from Defoe’s politics, where? What was the political, as well as socio-economic, climate in England at the time? If we are to understand Moll Flanders as a specific literary strategy, these are questions that need to be tackled. Published in 1722, Moll Flanders can be read as Daniel Defoe’s indictment upon the poor an

“Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Mask of Anarchy as a Political Statement for the Ages.”

       For centuries, it has been the artists who pursue the active role in political discourse, in one form or another: the Folk artists of the late 1950s through the ‘60s; The Beats in the late 1940s through the ‘50s; even back to the Greek dramatists. During the politically charged atmosphere following the Enlightenment, there emerged a pool of writers – fueled by the turmoil of the French Revolution and empowered with the budding philosophy of The Rights of Man – who would take up the banner and use their voices, their words, to reject accepted social systems such as religion, spirituality, and politics. The Mask of Anarchy , written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819, is an occasional poem written about what became known as The Peterloo Massacre. However, Shelley understood that the political nature of the poem, as well as certain aspects which could be considered libelous, and therefore, didn’t publish the poem until 1832. Much has been written about the political philosophies of

“To Conquer or Embrace: Nature as depicted by Mark Twain & James Fennimore Cooper”

There is a lot we can learn about others in the how they treat, and view, nature. Often we are quick to make judgments upon people who abuse animals, and of course there is feigned-respect for indigenous peoples and their actual reverence toward nature. But how are we to judge fictional characters? Are we to critique the author, or the creation? Or is there a cultural driving force propelling the narrative that we should place under the microscope of scrutiny? If even possible to do so, these are not simple questions to answer. However, by performing close readings of the texts, we may get a closer idea of what that particular zeitgeist behind the book is. A good example of this is to juxtapose the two divergent portrayals of nature found in James Fennimore Cooper’s The Pioneers , and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn . In comparing and contrasting the depictions of nature in each one of these texts, it is easier to get a closer approximation to the overall zeitgeist of

“Pennies on their eyes: Gullah/Geechee Culture and the Concept of ‘Otherness’ in Nikky Finney’s The World Is Round”

     The port at Charleston, South Carolina was one of the most important to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade to the Colonies and the Americas. It is estimated that some 121,464 slaves were brought into the port of Charleston between 1716 and 1807 (Pollitzer 44-45). Through state and federal documentation, we know that the largest percentages of these slaves were, in order of largest to smallest, from Angola, Senegambia, and the Windward Coast of Africa (map 5, Pollitzer 46). While the majority of these slaves were sold to inland planters, many were sold to planters of the Sea Islands, a swath of lowland coastal plain islands stretching 400 miles from the southern coast of North Carolina, to the northern coast of Georgia. It is in the Sea Islands where the birth of Gullah/Geechee culture took place. For almost one hundred years, this culture thrived in near-isolation – it wasn’t until the 1930s, and some islands as late as the 1950s, that the islands were accessible to any transportatio

Stars that Shine Darkly

I once sat – watching a blind man wail his saxophone on a street corner             the lines on his face a roadmap of his journey I stretched out on the meadow blanket at midnight             watching the Great Sky Mother dripping her shedding – falling Star-daughters             Remembering that old street-corner minstrel He played like Parker, Coltrane and Turrentine             all rolled up in one giant Hero Sandwich of Cosmic Sound                                     and I thought These are the Stars that Shine Darkly. These artists – who burst into Novae too soon             whose force came out with too much speed and drained them away Artists who were handed the flame – handed fame – named King of the Beats             even though all they wanted was to write a little – Earn a little – Live a little. Artists who heard the voice of God crying out to them             during cock-in-hand, spring Meditation Artists slowly murdering