This article has a double aim: it contributes to a new theorisation of posthumanism and it revisits standard accounts of the relations between posthumanism and deconstruction. Departing from the observation that the distinction between (semantic, subjective) emotions and (asignifying, nonsubjective) affects is critical for posthumanism, the article shows how posthumanism can be described as a minimal emotive scenario. In this scenario, the cancellation of humanism and its strictly codified emotions generates intractable and nonsubjective second-order affects. Both pleasurable and terrifying, these ‘posthuman affects’ resemble traditional notions of the sublime, without the latter’s recuperative and reterritorialising connotations. The article mobilises this broad emotive understanding of posthumanism to question the traditional account of the rise of posthumanism as a reaction to the excessively textualist and literary interests of deconstruction. Focusing on Paul de Man’s readings of Kant, Schiller and Hegel, it shows how de Man’s use of the notion of ‘materiality’ – another key term in the discourse of posthumanism – is already part of an emotive scenario that, like later posthumanist practices, revises the traditional structure of the sublime in order to map a shift from human emotion to posthuman affect.
When writing research articles (RAs), scholars can use certain lexico-grammatical traits that enable them to encode their attitudes, judgments and opinions, thus functioning as markers of stance. It is believed that sentenceinitial nouns preceded by a deictic -'retrospective labels' in Francis's terminology (1986, 1994)- can be considered one of those traits. The aim here is to explore whether there are any language-driven differences in the use of 'retrospective labels' as markers of stance within a particular disciplinary discourse, namely, Business Management. 'Retrospective labels' were analysed in a corpus of 12 Ras on the above-mentioned discipline, 6 in American English and 6 in Spanish. The focus is placed on the contrastive analysis of the frequency of use of these 'retrospective labels', the type of head nouns and modifiers which most frequently form part of them and the extent to which these 'retrospective labels' convey attitudinal meaning. As a general implication, it is believed that the differences drawn from analyses of this type should be borne in mind by Spanish Business Management scholars when writing their RAs in English.
This article uses the practice of the law of England and Wales to illuminate what is happening when literary theorists invoke authorial intention. We argue that in interpreting contracts, wills and statutes, judges employ the language of intention (what the contractor/testator/legislature 'meant') to inform their decisions, but that this linguistic usage is misleading. For in practice, judicial interpretation is firmly text-based. The language of intention remains solely to foster certain illusions about the ability freely to contract, bequeath possessions and enact legislation on a democratic basis. Applying this model to literary interpretation, we find a similar sleight-of-hand taking place. While theorists such as E. D. Hirsch and Stanley Fish promote authorial intention as the basis of interpretation, their actual practice is a matter of text-based hermeneutics.
This paper puts forward a theory of the integration of the various levels of communicative interaction in literary texts, ranging from the activation of proxemic elements at the action level, to the interaction between author and reader, as well as their textualized images. The paper shows how a given stylistic practice, Nabokov's in "The Christmas Story," is able to exploit, for highly elaborate communicative purposes, the complex integration into a semiotic continuum of these multiple levels of representation. This thesis is sustained with a detailed argumentation which takes into account the actual reception of the work, and the way in which this reception evidences the author's stylistic technique, consisting in the calculated subliminal activation of specific reading paths (intertextual associations, creation of local memories, etc.). The paper also suggests a possible relationship between the reflexive structures of narrative and some specific modes of neurological processing associated to the generation of conscious phenomena.
A considerable amount of recent English prose fiction includes child figures that can be interpreted as posthuman in that they embody contemporary society’s fears and anxieties about the future. In a reading of John Banville’s The Infinities, Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz and Emma Donoghue’s Room, the essay claims that child characters in each of the narratives place our visions of the future in a distorted perspective. For all of the differences between these children and the cyborgs, beasts and ghostly figures that the technological branch of posthumanist discourse focuses on, they nonetheless function in similar ways: children and other posthumanist figures serve as powerful signs of global, and specifically European, anxieties. The future projected through these children – or the ‘dark continent of childhood’, to use the words of Jean Baudrillard – is not a postapocalyptic one. Rather, this future is fraught with fear and burdened with responsibility and guilt, embodying the worries that the ageing ‘mother of continents’ experiences when it sees its increasingly ‘alien’ children drifting towards an uncertain future.
Bringing animals, the technology of the telephone, and the maternal together might put one in mind of the animal-machines of Descartes, doomed to repetition, to reaction, cut off in kind from the capacity to respond and thus the supposed domain of the human. Conceptually speaking, this essay pursues the deconstruction of such a distinction that Derrida explicitly sets out in ‘The Animal That Therefore I Am’ (2008) as well as in ‘Typewriter Ribbon: Limited Ink (2)’ (2002) namely that human response is always infected by the repetition of the mechanical – say the telephone, and animals cannot be corralled into uniform, timeless automaticity. His arguments ruin claims of human exceptionalism and insist on the ongoing complexity of what counts as the living. Derrida has long pressured the discrete tongue of the discipline of philosophy with its necessary infiltration by literature, as well as challenging the limits of the French language, in which he is both at home and not at home. Sharing his ‘Algeriance’, Cixous’s writing puts perhaps greater emphasis on sounding the poetics of language as the means of shaping its theoretical ambitions, thus demanding complex feats of invention from her translators. Paying attention to the poetic articulation of her thought, this essay further examines the ways in which Cixous doubles and even anticipates that which is now readily associated with Derrida, especially ‘the question of the animal’. It focuses on the question of the distance-proximity of the telephone and the non-species-specific nature of communication. Just as a letter can always not arrive at its destination, the telephone can always produce crossed wires. The shores of the other are subject to limitrophy in the telefoam of their correspondence, prompting a posthumanist ethics.
Over the last decade, ‘cultural memory' has emerged as a useful umbrella term to describe the complex ways in which societies remember their past using a variety of media. Where earlier discussions of collective memory had a thematic focus and were concerned above all with identifying the ‘sites of memory' that act as placeholders for the memories of particular groups, attention has been shifting in recent years to the cultural processes by which memories become shared in the first place. It has become increasingly apparent that the memories that are shared within generations and across different generations are the product of public acts of remembrance using a variety of media. Stories, both oral and written, images, museums, monuments: these all work together in creating and sustaining ‘sites of memory'. Thus everyone reading this issue of EJES will have some ‘recollection' of the First World War, but since most readers were not alive in 1914, these ‘recollections' are vicarious ones, the product of accumulated exposure to a common reservoir of products, including photographs and documentaries, museums, personal accounts, histories and novels.
To say that nature is central to the nineteenth-century literary consciousness is to state the obvious. When Wordsworth, in ‘The Tables Turned’ (1798), demands that we ‘quit [our] books’, he is formulating the infamous ‘back-to-nature’ motto. Still, the author wishes to retort that, from an environmental point of view, Wordsworth’s request does not point in the right direction. In other words, it is not ecological to moralise about the necessity of paying close attention to nature. Humanist theories of ecology have traditionally concentrated upon the importance of preserving nature for the sake of humanity. Recent posthumanist theories of the environment, by contrast, emphasise the need to ‘decentre’ nature by placing it in the background, that is, in areas ‘surrounding’ the centre. There has been a critical shift, at the turn of the twenty-first century, from ‘deep ecology’ to ‘dark ecology’. This essay explores aspects of the latter and some of its affinities with European posthumanism.
Compares on the use of metaphor in classroom discussion and literature. Parameters of variation in metaphor use; Types of metaphor variation; Significance of the teacher's knowledge on readers to the metaphor use of teachers in developing explanations.
This essay argues that Gertrude Stein’s novella ‘Melanctha’ (1909) inscribed within the canon of Anglo-American modernism the conceptual coordinates for the emergence of a posthumanist aesthetics. It also argues that the potential of such a radical event can be more fully appreciated by considering Stein’s pioneering treatment of meaning in the novella alongside Niklas Luhmann’s account of meaning in his theory of social systems. The essay emphasises the details of Stein’s crucial contribution to the articulation of a discourse of posthumanism and relates this occurrence to the emergence of a mass-media system at the beginning of the twentieth century.
A close reading of Alan Turing’s seminal 1950 paper ‘Computing Machines and Intelligence’ in conjunction with a consideration of the specifically literary qualities of Philip K. Dick’s highly successful novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? suggests that each participates in the development of a concept of the posthuman as a voiding of traditional definitions of human capacities or qualities. Furthermore, if the question of the posthuman is primarily one of a contest of the disciplines – science versus the humanities – this convergence of fiction and technoscience suggests a productive reconfiguration of their articulation. In both Turing and Dick, the consideration of the human and the posthuman ceases to constitute a pre-eminently factual issue. The manner in which each author empties out positive human capabilities can be seen as the correlate of a thoroughgoing pragmatism, in which the posthuman implies that the claim to know and judge the human gives way to an openness to acknowledging the potentially absolute other. This means that the humanities infiltrate and inflect the sciences, rather than taking stock of their sometimes problematic achievements.
This essay explores a triple silence in and around one of the most canonical of visual poems. Eugen Gomringer’s ‘Silencio’, a poem that has been misread in almost all its critical commentaries. Such commentaries, which concentrate exclusively on the poem’s formalist ramifications, ignore the poem’s historical and political context. By taking into account the fact that this poem was written within a decade of the discovery of the concentration camps, and discussing its various translinguistic manifestations, the text’s central silence is shown to evoke matters far more sombre than the discourse of aesthetics can account for.
This article explores current reinventions of the paper page and the book-object as bearers of visual text in the digital age. How has the literary evolved as a verbal-visual art in the digital age, pronouncedly ‘bookish’ in spite or because of its overall digital mode of production? The authors focus on works illustrative of three genres – Mark Z. Danielewski's novel Only Revolutions(2006a), Louise Paillé's artbook Livres-livres(1993–2004), and ET Russian's personal zine Ring of Fire #3 (1999) – showing how the digital does not erase but produces ‘analogue’ or paper-based writing anew. How does the digital provide new meanings, and modes for such writing to pronounce itself? With respect to the works discussed, the authors argue that such ‘analogue’ writing is presented as an embodied writing: a writing addressed towards the body, but also presenting itself as a visceral, bodily act. They approach this embodied writing as an instance of media divergence: a dynamic of contrastive, material differences between ‘analogue’ and ‘digital’ media in the present.
This commentary examines Thomas Mann (1875?–?1955) as a letter-writer and elucidates fundamental perspectives about the meaning and purpose of letters, especially as Mann understood and utilised them. In so doing, attention focuses on Mann's still unpublished and only recently discovered correspondence with his American publisher, Alfred A. Knopf (1892?–?1984), and his American translator, Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter (1877?–?1963), which constitute – between 1926 and 1955 – several thousand exchanges. Regardless of the extensive international attention accorded to Mann, scholars have been unable to research this author/publisher/translator relationship, and for more than sixty years have unsuccessfully conjectured what might have happened to these epistolary documents – suspecting that, if extant, these materials could provide profound and vital information unavailable in any other Mann documents. Above all, one salient factor highlights our investigation: no other elucidations exist of these special missives, which, among other topics, discuss Mann's development and response to different situations, including the impact of his cultural legacy and the genesis of his creative works.