Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Spring 2001

Volume 27 Issue 3
    • 393Robert Pogue Harrison
    • I see no reason why architecture, for all its past deliquencies, could not lead the way to a fully modern redemption of our debt to the earth and hence to a new economy of habitation. Such an architecture would take its measure from our humic natures rather than from the empty expanse of a false transcendence—false in the sense in which earlier I wrote of our false modernity. We do not need an architecture of the milk carton that poses as the origin of its contents but an architecture of the cow, as it were, which brings to bear in its lineaments and materials the unde and the quo of life itself. Its buildings must not only rise from but also redescend into the ground of their edification. They must not only stand there but also lie there. In short, we need an architecture not so much of the humanistic (in the grand modernist sense) as of the humic.

      See also: Robert Pogue Harrison, The Names of the Dead  ·  W. J. T. Mitchell, "Holy Landscape: Israel, Palestine, and the American Wilderness

      Robert Pogue Harrison is the Rosina Pierotti Professor of Italian Literature at Stanford University. His most recent book is Rome, la pluie: A quoi bon la littérature? He is currently working on the topic of the relations the living maintain with the dead in modern Western culture.

    • 408Mary Poovey
    • As a grouping category, designed to negotiate the relationship between specific individuals and the general class to which they may be said to belong, model system is functionally equivalent to the biological concept of species. As a particular instance of the concept, the individual model system—the frog, baboon, or mouse—is functionally equivalent to example. To transfer this term to literary criticism, I need to distinguish between these two functions for a moment. Insofar as it is a grouping concept, model system serves the same function in biology that genre does in literary criticism. Insofar as it highlights particular instances, the "object or process" to which model system refers serves the function that individual genres—the novel or the romantic lyric—do for literary critics. Once we distinguish between these two functions, we can see the aptness of my second epigraph: even if modern biology is not organized by a single model system, contemporary literary criticism is. Contemporary literary criticism is organized by the romantic lyric—both in the sense that it treats its analytic objects as if they were lyrics and in the sense that it contains features that perform lyric functions.

      See also: Mary Poovey, Sex in America  ·  Mary Poovey, Figures of Arithmetic, Figures of Speech: The Discourse of Statistics in the 1830s

      Mary Poovey is professor of English and director of the Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge at New York University. She is the author of The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer (1984), Uneven Developments (1988), Making a Social Body (1995), and A History of the Modern Fact (1998). She is currently working on a book about reading long Victorian novels.

    • 439Lynne Joyrich
    • In other words, if Ellen can be seen as narrativizing, not just symptomatizing, TV's logic of the closet, then Will and Grace might be seen as spatializing this logic—adding dimension by exhibiting (whether knowingly or not) all of the permutations in one half-hour show. Perhaps, in that way, it implicitly performs the range of the textual/sexual moves that I've tried explicitly to map. But this is not to say that explicit announcement (whether of the television theorist or the television text) is a means of escaping the epistemological trajectories I've discussed. Like a television console whose exterior is made to be displayed while the actual workings are hidden within, such announcements may repackage or reframe but not necessarily short-circuit the system (though, as I've suggested, it is likely to short-circuit itself). In other words, I hope that I have demonstrated that in formulating a politics of representation, we need not—indeed, should not—simply ask for more (more disclosure, more true-to-life drama, more explicit imagery), that the explicit revelation of sexuality on commercial television need not explode the logic of the closet.

      See also: Candace Vogler, Sex and Talk  ·  Arnold I. Davidson, Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality

      Lynne Joyrich is associate professor in the department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She is the author of Re-viewing Reception: Television, Gender, and Postmodern Culture (1996).

    • 468Scott Cutler Shershow
    • The work of Mauss and Bataille was always intended, at least in part, as a critique of historical capitalism, which it positions as the very paradigm of a restricted economy based on calculation, investment, and return. In my example, how-ever, it remains easy to see that Titanic's unforgettable vision of sacrifice and expenditure is still circumscribed by a restricted economy of the most literal kind and that the film's material expense, like its representation of loss, is still first and last a capitalist investment that has grossed, at last count, over 1.5 billion dollars worldwide. Indeed, it is now possible to buy commercial reproductions of the Heart of the Ocean itself, either with or without genuine precious stones, a fact that provides perhaps an even more piquant image of what might be called, to mangle Bataille's formula, loss with return.

      See also:  Jack Amariglio, Stephen Resnick, Richard Wolff, Division and Difference in the "Discipline" of Economics

      Scott Cutler Shershow, associate professor of English at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is the author of Puppets and "Popular" Culture (1996) and of articles on early modern drama, literary theory, and cultural studies. He is also the coeditor, with Jean E. Howard, of Marxist Shakespeares (2000).

    • 493Debbora Battaglia
    • The irony that films about devouring regimes of power are produced for mass consumption should not escape us. Neither should this delude us that films as cultural artifacts do not enter diversely into the social exchanges and cultural imaginaries of diverse audiences, just as human cloning provokes diverse cultural and personal responses, yet to be fully explored ethnographically. The idea of mass-producing life, however, is in a sense publicly registered in replication films as a prospective trauma for humankind. The notion is drawn, like images in celluloid, from the possibility of history materially repeating itself, anywhere within reach of corporeal fetishism. In short, the medium puns the message and vice versa, creating a historicity in which linear, chronological time—time in forward play—must acknowledge replay and the prospect of returning, with critical awareness and a felt urgency, to problematically painful or pleasurable historical templates.

      See also: Miriam Bratu Hansen, Benjamin and Cinema: Not a One-Way Street  ·  Catherine Malabou, One Life Only: Biological Resistance, Political Resistance

      Debbora Battaglia is professor of anthropology at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of On the Bones of the Serpent (1990). Her most recent publication is "Toward an Ethics of the Open Subject: Writing Culture in Good Conscience" in Anthropological Theory Today, ed. Henrietta Moore (1999).

    • 515Rae Beth Gordon
    • Experimental psychology, clinical observations, and psychiatric theory in late nineteenth-century France furnished the Parisian cabaret and early film comedy with a new repertoire of movements, grimaces, tics, and gestures. At the same time, scientific experiments in the physiology of stimulus-response lent themselves to new ways of looking at the way that spectators reacted to certain performance styles. These are the important components in the history of the two forms of mass culture that I want to reconstruct here. Notions and, especially, images from medical science must be included alongside images from the wax museum, pantomime, puppet shows, and precinematic devices in the cultural series that contributed to the genesis of performance styles in the Parisian cabaret, café-concert, and in early film comedy. This essay, then, proposes and examines a previously unnoticed relation between a significant cultural and aesthetic style and the extraordinary upsurge of concern with and diagnosis of hysteria and epilepsy in late nineteenth-century French medical practice and theory.

      See also: Eli Zaretsky, Charisma or Rationalization? Domesticity and Psychoanalysis in the United States in the 1950s  ·  Jan Goldstein, Neutralizing Freud: The Lycée Philosophy Class and the Problem of the Reception of Psychoanalysis in France

      Rae Beth Gordon is professor of French and comparative literature at the University of Connecticut. Author of Ornament, Fantasy, and Desire (1992), her forthcoming book is entitled Why the French Love Jerry Lewis.

    • 557James W. Williams
    • [T]hose who track the comings and goings of the staff of Critical Inquiry may have already noticed that Aeron Hunt has been replaced by Kristin Casady as manuscript editor. The transition, unlike that which recently occurred on the national level, was a smooth one and beneficial to all.