Convergences: Inventories of the Present
“Four characteristics define this series. One is some particular humanistic or social problematic in the present, of special consequence to the author, such as the politics of representation, issues in popular culture, the role of the intellectual, the social function of music, the contemporary meaning of imperialism, race, or gender in specific cultural locales. Second is a historical perspective requiring the creation of an inventory, genealogy, or narrative of some sort. Third is the convergence of several fields, approaches, structures—say, social, historical, literary, political, anthropological. These convergences occur as practices, not as mere theoretical gestures. Fourth is an acute awareness of and sophistication in theory, together with an avoidance of theoretical elaboration for its own sake; even though the major advances in interpretive theory cannot be ignored, it is not necessary to repeat them endlessly. They need historical explication and exploration, inventories of the present.”—Edward W. Said
Below are the in-print works in this collection. Sort by title, author, format, publication date, or price »
In this provocative study, Masao Miyoshi deliberately adopts an off-center perspective—one that restores the historical asymmetry of encounters between Japan and the United States, from Commodore Perry to Douglas MacArthur—to investigate the blindness that has characterized relations between the two cultures.
Tony Tanner skillfully lays before us the many ways in which this dreamlike city has been summoned up, depicted, dramatized—then rediscovered or transfigured in selected writings through the years.
Richard Poirier, one of America’s most eminent critics, reveals in this book the creative but mostly hidden alliance between American pragmatism and American poetry. He brilliantly traces pragmatism as a philosophical and literary practice grounded in a linguistic skepticism that runs from Emerson and William James to the work of Robert Frost, Gertrude Stein, and Wallace Stevens, and on to the cultural debates of today.
The complex cultural status of Chopin—he was a native Pole and adopted Frenchman, a male composer writing in “feminine” genres—is the subject of Kallberg’s absorbing book. Combining social history, literary theory, musicology, and feminist thought, this book situates Chopin’s music within the construct of his somewhat marginal sexual identity.
Kiberd offers an account of the personalities and texts that reinvented Ireland after centuries of colonialism. Combining daring, detailed interpretations of literary masterpieces with assessments of the wider role of language, sport, clothing, politics, and philosophy in the Irish revival, this book is a major literary history of modern Ireland.
This passionate book is a bracing critique of the critical self-indulgence that calls itself cosmopolitanism. Brennan traces his subject from Orwell to Kristeva, from “third world” writing to the Nobel Prize. A critical call to arms, the book strips the false and heedless from the new cosmopolitanism in order to revitalize the idea.
What is colonialism and what is a colonial state? In exploring these questions, Ranajit Guha points out that the South Asian colonial state was a historical paradox. Britain may have ruled India as a colony, but it never achieved hegemony over most of the population, collaborating with the nationalist elite but never persuading the masses.
This collection of literary and cultural essays, the first since 1983’s The World, the Text, and the Critic, reconfirms that Edward Said is the most impressive, consequential, and elegant critic of our time. Taken together, these essays afford rare insight into the formation of a critic and the development of an intellectual vocation.
This work presents in English translation the largest collection ever assembled of the sayings and stories of Jesus in Arabic Islamic literature. The 300 sayings and stories, arranged in chronological order, show us how the image of this Jesus evolved throughout a millennium of Islamic history.
A celebration of the tenacious life of the enduring Irish classics, this book—by one of Irish writing’s most eloquent readers—offers a rich survey of the greatest works since 1600 in Gaelic and English.
In this book, Pascale Casanova shows us the state of world literature behind the stylistic refinements—a world of letters relatively independent from economic and political realms, and in which language systems, aesthetic orders, and genres struggle for dominance. Rejecting facile talk of globalization, with its suggestion of a happy literary “melting pot,” Casanova exposes an emerging regime of inequality in the world of letters, where minor languages and literatures are subject to the invisible but implacable violence of their dominant counterparts.
The cultural Cold War in Latin America was waged as a war of values—artistic freedom versus communitarianism, Western values versus national cultures, the autonomy of art versus a commitment to liberation struggles—and at a time when the prestige of literature had never been higher. The projects of the historic avant-garde were revitalized by an anti-capitalist ethos and envisaged as the opposite of the republican state. The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City charts the conflicting universals of this period, the clash between avant-garde and political vanguard. This was also a twilight of literature at the threshold of the great cultural revolution of the seventies and eighties, a revolution to which the Cold War indirectly contributed. In the eighties, civil war and military rule, together with the rapid development of mass culture and communication empires, changed the political and cultural map.
Kaplan shows how U.S. imperialism—from “Manifest Destiny” to the “American Century”—has profoundly shaped key elements of American culture at home, and how the struggle for power over foreign peoples and places has disrupted the quest for domestic order.
Our modern narratives of science and technology can only go so far in teaching us about the death that we must all finally face. Might opera, an art form steeped in death, teach us how to die, as this provocative work suggests? In Opera: The Art of Dying a physician and a literary theorist bring together scientific and humanistic perspectives on the lessons on living and dying that this extravagant and seemingly artificial art imparts.
One of the most powerful poets of his generation consolidates his reputation as an exceptionally forthright and astringent critic in this book that analyzes the relationship between English-language literature, especially poetry, and nineteenth and twentieth-century politics. Tom Paulin’s criticism stays on track, always responsive to a work’s characteristic genius and sensitive to its social setting.
In a rigorous exploration of how secularism and identity emerged as conflicting concepts in the modern world, Akeel Bilgrami elaborates a notion of secular enchantment with a view to finding in secular modernity a locus of meaning and value, while addressing squarely the anxiety that all such notions are exercises in nostalgia.