Journal

Past Issues

Spring 2005, Volume 38, Number 1

Proof, Pi, and Happy Days: The Performance of Mathematics

Elizabeth Klaver

What a beautiful and satisfying pattern! Each number is produced by adding together the two previous Fibonacci numbers. And, surprisingly, when graphed, the Fibonacci sequence forms a spiral, the shape of which is indeed found in nature, in the cream in Max’s coffee, in the smoke from Lenny’s cigarette.

Ten (or Twenty) Things I Have Learned about Conferences: Ten Precepts and Ten Practices

Charles J. Stivale

The act of displacement itself can jar and dislodge thoughts, possibly creating possible progress in one’s work. I have become increasingly attentive to what I have come to call (with only the slightest irony) breakthrough moments—those occasional flashes of inspiration that can be as simple as a minor adjustment of my perspective, but that help solve problems in my work in invaluable ways.

Performing Pedagogy: Teaching and Confidence Games in David Mamet’s House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner

Jeffrey O. McIntire-Strasburg

These disclosures serve as a means of roping both the mark and the audience: both the students and the spectators believe their respective mentors have provided them with a “behind-the-scenes” look at the worlds they are attempting to understand.

Equating Performance with Identity: The Failure of Clarissa Dalloway’s Victorian “Self” in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway

Shannon Forbes

There is more to Clarissa than being “Mrs. Richard Dalloway,” but, paradoxically, this additional facet of her self, which would be signified by the inclusion of the name “Clarissa” within the title, is one of emptiness and absence.

Slam Poetry and the Cultural Politics of Performing Identity

Susan Somers-Willett

If poetry slams are events where audiences often take a poet’s words at face value, and the identity a poet expresses in performance is taken as the performer’s identity in life, then many audience members are evaluating not only the writing and performance of a poem, but also the scripting and performance of identity.

Ceremonial Tradition as Form and Theme in Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven: A Performance-Based Approach to Native American Literature

Kathleen L. Carroll

Dancing, storytelling, drums, chants: these ceremonial rituals affirm the Indians’ need for community, their spiritual legacy, and an empowering sense of who they are. These are the weapons modern Indian warriors need to overturn the white man’s stereotypes, to integrate their identities and to affirm their future survival. These are also the weapons that will convert passive readers into combative participants.

Search for Home and Identity: Ping Chong’s Undesirable Elements—Berlin

Yuko Kurahashi

All the participants in this play reveal that their senses of individual identity are fluid, changeable, and yet directly connected to their homelands, despite the fact that German laws and policies have historically tried to impose compartmentalized and ethnically categorized labels.

Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America a cluster inspired by the National Endowment for the Arts

Mark Bauerlein

A population that doesn’t read is divorced from its cultural heritage and cut off from civic affairs. Reading is the prerequisite for access to the world at large, to the historical past and the political present. That so many young people are opting out of an activity so essential to personal growth is a troubling trend that must be the result of deep and complex changes in contemporary society.

Response

Thomas Chase

Recent mass-culture male (anti-)icons, whether Vin Diesel, Larry David, or indeed Homer Simpson, suggest that such reading remains as foreign as ever to the American Durchschnittsmensch. It is something that women do.

Response

Phillip H. Round

It is not so much that reading is at risk as that belles lettres are at risk. On the cover of the NEA’s report, a lone boy in the right foreground reads a thick tome in a paneled and columned library reading room. The herringbone patterned wood floors and the plush draperies in the far background elevate his solitary act of reading literature into a belletristic sacrament.

Denmark Is a Prison, and You Are There

Agnes Wilcox

From the beginning of The Hamlet Project, we had four simultaneous Hamlets. You know. One guy says, “To be.” Another responds, “Or not to be.” A third proclaims, “That is the question.” And they look to the fourth for a reply.

Book Reviews

Milton Studies 41. Edited by Albert C. Labriola.

Milton Studies 42. Paradise Regained in Context: Genre, Politics, Religion. Edited by Albert C. Labriola and David Loewenstein.

Milton Studies 43. Edited by Albert C. Labriola.

(D. Susan Kendrick)

Foremost in these three volumes is an emphasis on the inextricability of Milton’s politics from his religious beliefs, particularly in regard to his support of the Commonwealth government. Milton’s extensive education provided him with a plethora of sources that he used to further his critique of the monarchy, which he perceived as pushing the English state further away from the true faith and God’s blessing.

The Corpus Delicti: A Manual of Argentine Fictions. By Josefina Ludmer. Translated by Glen S. Close. (Janis Breckenridge)

Privileging the study of Argentine classics, this volume testifies to a cultural continuum. Yet of particular interest are the ruptures or breaks that disrupt (and, paradoxically, thereby sustain) this genealogy. Ludmer’s own story, then, similar to the literature under investigation, is one of transgressions.

Twilight: A Drama in Five Acts. By Elsa Bernstein. Translated and Introduced by Susanne Kord. (Craig N. Owens)

Bernstein’s play in Kord’s presentation could reawaken critical and pedagogical interest in a playwright whose output approached Shaw’s and whose subtle and complex characters and narratives highlight, by comparison, how ham-handed and one-dimensional Ibsen’s most influential works sometimes seem.

Bareface: A Guide to C. S. Lewis’s Last Novel. By Doris T. Myers. (Mary R. Bowman)

In spite of having interesting things to say, Myers’s guide has an oddly bifurcated sense of audience; the result is a book which may fail to find the audience it is best suited for and frustrate the audiences more likely to find it.

Reading Oprah: How Oprah’s Book Club Changed the Way America Reads. By Cecilia Konchar Farr.(Lisa Tyler)

Despite—or perhaps because of—its enormous cultural impact, Oprah’s nearly six-year venture into book clubs has been received among academics with a certain elitist snobbishness and distaste.

Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies. By Joseph Csicsila.(Christopher M. Kuipers)

Trenchantly, Csicsila’s examination of eighty anthologies published since 1919 demonstrates that many earlier claims about this particular canon have been misdirected, if not mistaken. Were the “Canon Wars” waged by ignorant armies?

Office Hours: Activism and Change in the Academy. By Cary Nelson and Stephen Watt. (Heather M. Steffen)

Focusing in particular on the situation of English departments and graduate student workers, Nelson and Watt aim to raise awareness of the mounting crisis affecting all disciplines and to provide examples of successful efforts