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Framing the Margins : The Social Logic of Postmodern Culture - Phillip Brian Harper

Framing the Margins

The Social Logic of Postmodern Culture

Paperback Published: 6th January 1994
ISBN: 9780195082395
Number Of Pages: 256

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This dramatic rereading of postmodernism seeks to broaden current theoretical conceptions of the movement as both a social-philosophical condition and a literary and cultural phenomenon. Phil Harper contends that the fragmentation considered to be characteristic of the postmodern age can in fact be traced to the status of marginalized groups in the United States since long before the contemporary era. This status is reflected in the work of American writers from the thirties through the fifties whom Harper addresses in this study, including Nathanael West, AnaAs Nin, Djuna Barnes, Ralph Ellison, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Treating groups that are disadvantaged or disempowered whether by circumstance of gender, race, or sexual orientation, the writers profiled here occupy the cusp between the modern and the postmodern; between the recognizably modernist aesthetic of alienation and the fragmented, disordered sensibility of postmodernism. Proceeding through close readings of these literary texts in relation to various mass-cultural productions, Harper examines the social placement of the texts in the scope of literary history while analyzing more minutely the interior effects of marginalization implied by the fictional characters enacting these narratives. In particular, he demonstrates how these works represent the experience of social marginality as highly fractured and fracturing, and indicates how such experience is implicated in the phenomenon of postmodernist fragmentation. Harper thus accomplishes the vital task of recentering cultural focus on issues and groups that are decentered by very definition, and thereby specifies the sociopolitical significance of postmodernism in a way that has not yet been done.

"Highly recommended for all academic libraries."--Choice "Phillip Brian Harper's book is the most cogent move yet in literary criticism to revise what is, by now, a canonical version of postmodernism. In arguing for the anticipation of postmodernism's themes by writers excluded from centrality within the modernist tradition, his study gives true social depth and historical meaning to the often rote usage of terms like `marginality' and `minority.'"--Andrew Ross, New York University "Framing the Margins is an unusually lucid book of scholarship, understated but arresting. Any reader of contemporary literature will be challenged by Harper's ideas, and all parties involved in the `culture wars' should heed his voice."--Harvard Review "Framing the Margins is a bold contribution to the re-evaluation of twentieth century American cultural evolution."--Journal of American Studies "Harper's book seeks at once to broaden our understanding of the postmodern condition and to make our discussion of it more complex and specific....In the breadth of its readings and the rigor of its argument, Framing the Margins is one of the most illuminating books on postmodernism that I have read..."--Papers on Language and Literature "Highly recommended for all academic libraries."--Choice "Phillip Brian Harper's book is the most cogent move yet in literary criticism to revise what is, by now, a canonical version of postmodernism. In arguing for the anticipation of postmodernism's themes by writers excluded from centrality within the modernist tradition, his study gives true social depth and historical meaning to the often rote usage of terms like `marginality' and `minority.'"--Andrew Ross, New York University "Framing the Margins is an unusually lucid book of scholarship, understated but arresting. Any reader of contemporary literature will be challenged by Harper's ideas, and all parties involved in the `culture wars' should heed his voice."--Harvard Review "Framing the Margins is a bold contribution to the re-evaluation of twentieth century American cultural evolution."--Journal of American Studies "Harper's book seeks at once to broaden our understanding of the postmodern condition and to make our discussion of it more complex and specific....In the breadth of its readings and the rigor of its argument, Framing the Margins is one of the most illuminating books on postmodernism that I have read..."--Papers on Language and Literature

Introduction: the Postmodern, the Marginal, and the Minorp. 3
Postmodernism and the Decentered Subjectp. 3
Social Marginality and Minor Literaturep. 12
Modernist Alienation/Postmodern Fragmentationp. 19
Signification, Movement, and Resistance in the Novels of Nathanael Westp. 30
Moving Violationp. 30
How to Say Things with Wordsp. 31
The System of Movement and Its Discontentsp. 42
The Significance of the Motion Picturep. 49
Anais nin, Djuna Barnes, and the Critical Feminist Unconsciousp. 55
Female Self-Fashioning in Nin's "Continuous Novel"p. 55
Theorizing Women's Divided Experiencep. 66
The Feminine Condition and Existential Angst in Djuna Barnes's Nightwoodp. 73
Gwendolyn Brooks and the Vicissitudes of Black Female Subjectivityp. 90
Beyond the Sex/Gender System: The Complex Construction of Feminine Identityp. 90
Two Brooks "Mothers" and the Politics of Identificationp. 93
Maud Martha and the Issue of Black Women's Angerp. 104
"To Become one and Yet Many": Psychic Fragmentation and Aesthetic Synthesis in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Manp. 116
Reflections on the Black Subjectp. 116
The Collective Entity and Individual Identityp. 125
Aesthetic Synthesis and Collective Experiencep. 135
Formal Popularization/Political Cooptationp. 141
Postmodern Narrative/Biographical Imperativep. 145
Identifying a Postmodernist "Canon"p. 145
Donald Barthelme's Unspeakable Subjectp. 147
Robert Coover and Metafictional Baseballp. 156
Multiplicity and Uncertainty in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49p. 164
Maxine Hong Kingston's Postmodern Life Storyp. 172
Coda: Categorical Collapse and the Possibility of "Commitment"p. 187
Notesp. 197
Bibliographyp. 215
Indexp. 225
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195082395
ISBN-10: 0195082397
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 6th January 1994
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.96 x 13.92  x 1.83
Weight (kg): 0.33