New and forthcoming books

Posted by Glennis Byron on March 21, 2011 in Blog tagged with

All of the following book descriptions are taken from Amazon uk.

Giselle Anatol, ed. Bringing Light to Twilight: Perspectives on a Pop Culture Phenomenon. Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming July 2011.

The astounding commercial success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, not just with adolescent girls (as originally intended), but with a large and diverse audience, makes interpreting their underlying themes vital for understanding the ways that we perceive and interact with each other in contemporary society.  Literary critics have interpreted vampires from Stoker’s Dracula to Rice’s Lestat in numerous ways – as symbols of deviant sexuality; as transgressive figures of sexual empowerment; as xenophobic representations of foreigners; as pop culture figures that reveal the attitudes of the masses better than any scholarly writing – and the Twilight saga is no exception. The essays in this collection use these interpretative lens and others to interrogate the meanings of Meyer’s books, making a compelling case for the cultural relevance of Twilight and providing insights on how we can “read” popular culture to our best advantage.  The volume will be of interest to academic and lay readers alike: undergraduates, graduate students, and instructors of children’s and young adult literature, contemporary U.S. literature, gothic literature, and popular culture, as well as the myriad Twilight fans who seek to explore and re-explore the novels from a variety of angles.

Deborah Christie and Sarah Juliet Lauro, Better Off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human. Fordham University Press, forthcoming June 2011.

The zombie is ubiquitous in popular culture: from comic books to video games, to internet applications and homemade films, zombies are all around us. Investigating the zombie from an interdisciplinary perspective,with an emphasis on deep analytical engagement with diverse kinds of texts, Better Off Dead addresses some of the more unlikely venues where zombies are found while providing the reader with a classic overview of the zombie’s folkloric and cinematic history.

What has the zombie metaphor meant in the past? Why does it continue to be so prevalent in our culture? Where others have looked at the zombie as an allegory for humanity’s inner machinations or claimed the zombie as capitalist critique, this collection seeks to provide an archaeology of the zombie—tracing its lineage from Haiti, mapping its various cultural transformations, and suggesting the post-humanist direction in which the zombie is ultimately heading. Approaching the zombie from many different points of view, the contributors look across history and across media. Though they represent various theoretical perspectives, the whole makes a cohesive argument: The zombie has not just evolved within narratives; it has evolved in a way that transforms narrative. This collection announces a new post-zombie, even before the boundaries of this rich and mysterious myth have been completely charted.

Christiana Gregoriou, Language, Ideology and Identity in Serial Killer Narratives. Routledge, 2011.

In this book, Gregoriou explores the portrayal of the serial killer identity and its related ideology across a range of contemporary crime narratives, including detective fiction, the true crime genre and media journalism. How exactly is the serial killer consciousness portrayed, how is the killing linguistically justified, and how distinguishing is the language revolving around criminal ideology and identity across these narrative genres? By employing linguistic and content-related methods of analysis, her study aims to work toward the development of a stylistic framework on the representation of serial killer ideology across factual (i.e. media texts), factional (i.e. true crime books) and fictional (i.e. novels) murder narratives. ‘Schema’ is a term commonly used to refer to organised bundles of knowledge in our brains, which are activated once we come across situations we have previously experienced, a ‘group schema’ being one such inventory shared by many. By analysing serial murder narratives across various genres, Gregoriou uncovers a widely shared ‘group schema’ for these murderers, and questions the extent to which real criminal minds are in fact linguistically fictionalised. Gregoriou’s study of the mental functioning and representation of criminal personas can help illuminate our schematic understanding of actual criminal minds.

James Hutchisson, ed. Edgar Allan Poe: Beyond Gothicism. University of Delaware Press, forthcoming June 2011

Most frequently regarded as a writer of the supernatural, Poe was actually among the most versatile of American authors, writing social satire, comic hoaxes, mystery stories, science fiction, prose poems, literary criticism and theory, and even a play. As a journalist and editor, Poe was closely in touch with the social, political, and cultural trends of nineteenth-century America. Recent scholarship has linked Poe’s imaginative writings to the historical realities of nineteenth-century America, including to science and technology, wars and politics, the cult of death and bereavement, and, most controversially, to slavery and stereotyped attitudes toward women. Edgar Allan Poe: Beyond Gothicism presents a systematic approach to topical criticism of Poe, revealing a new portrait of Poe as an author who blended topics of intellectual and social importance and returned repeatedly to these ideas in different works and using different aesthetic strategies during his brief but highly productive career. Twelve essays point readers toward new ways of considering Poe’s themes, techniques and aesthetic preoccupations by looking at Poe in the context of landscapes, domestic interiors, slavery, prosody, Eastern cultures, optical sciences, Gothicism, and literary competitions, clubs, and reviewing.

Randall Martin, 9/11 and the Literature of Terror. University of Edinburgh Press, forthcoming April 2011.

Explores the fiction, poetry, theatre and cinema that have represented the 9/11 attacks. Works by Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Don DeLillo, Simon Armitage and Mohsin Hamid are discussed in relation to the specific problems of writing about such a visually spectacular ‘event’ that has had enormous global implications. Other chapters analyse initial responses to 9/11, the intriguing tensions between fiction and non-fiction, the challenge of describing traumatic history and the ways in which the terrorist attacks have been discussed culturally in the decade since September 11. Key Features * Contributes to the growing literature on 9/11, presenting an over-view of some of the main texts that have represented the attacks and their aftermath * Focus on Don DeLillo: adds to the literature surrounding this major American novelist * Focus on Martin Amis: adds to the growing critical work on this much discussed British novelist and essayist * Man on Wire: provides a critical analysis of this Oscar winning film regarding its oblique references to 9/11

Wes Williams, Monsters and Their Meanings in Early Modern Culture: Mighty Magic. Oxford University Press, May 2011. To be reviewed by Steven Craig, University of Stirling.

To call something ‘monstrueux’ in the mid-sixteenth century is, more often than not, to wonder at its enormous size: it is to call to mind something like a whale. By the late seventeenth ‘monstrueux’ is more likely to denote hidden intentions, unspoken desires. Several shifts are at work in this word history, and in what Othello calls the ‘mighty magic’ of monsters; these shifts can be described in a number of ways. The clearest, and most compelling, is the translation or migration of the monstrous from natural history to moral philosophy, from descriptions of creatures found in the external world to the drama of human motivation, of sexual and political identity. This interdisciplinary study of monsters and their meanings advances by way of a series of close readings supported by the exploration of a wide range of texts and images, from many diverse fields, which all concern themselves with illicit coupling, unarranged marriages, generic hybridity, and the politics of monstrosity. Engaging with recent, influential accounts of monstrosity – from literary critical work (Huet, Greenblatt, Thomson Burnett, Hampton), to histories of science and ‘bio-politics’ (Wilson, Céard, Foucault, Daston and Park, Agamben) – it focusses on the ways in which monsters give particular force, colour, and shape to the imagination; the image at its centre is the triangulated picture of Andromeda, Perseus and the monster, approaching. The centre of the book’s gravity is French culture, but it also explores Shakespeare, and Italian, German, and Latin culture, as well as the ways in which the monstrous tales and images of Antiquity were revived across the period, and survive into our own times.

Natalie Wilson. Seduced by Twilight: The Allure and Contradictory Messages of the Popular Saga, Macfarland, forthcoming March 2011.

Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga has maintained a tight grip on the contemporary culture’s imagination. This timely and critical work examines how the Twilight series offers addictively appealing messages about love, romance, sex, beauty and body image, and how these charged themes interact with cultural issues regarding race, class, gender and sexuality. Through a careful analysis of the texts, the fandom and the current cultural climate, this book argues that the success of the Twilight series stems chiefly from Meyer’s savvy negotiation of cultural mores.

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