Denotation in Alien Environments: The Underwater Je Ne Sais Quoi
by Margaret Cohen
This article by Stanford professor Margaret Cohen examines nonfiction documentary forms where distinctly poetic practices have served as a communicative, if not denotative, tool. Accounts of the first extended underwater observation by pioneering divers like William Beebe, Hans Hass, Philippe Tailliez, and Philippe Diolé used literary allusions and fanciful rhetoric to express the implausible conditions of this alien environment, in a practice that reached its height before the flowering of underwater color and documentary cinema in the mid-1950s.
“Denotation in Alien Environments” is from Representations’ special issue Denotatively, Technically, Literally. The introduction to the issue by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt is available online free of charge.
Month of Free Access Ending April 15!
The entire run of Representations is available online free of charge through the end of the day on Monday, April 15. Follow this link to JSTOR for access to issues from 2001 to the present.
Notation After “The Reality Effect”:
Remaking Reference with Roland Barthes and Sheila Heti
by Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan
In “The Reality Effect,” Roland Barthes reveals notation’s ideological function within the realist novel; a decade later in Preparation of the Novel, Barthes reconsiders notation as the practice by which the writer provisionally makes literary meaning. Barthes’s revision of his claims for the reality effect helps us see how an emerging genre—the novel of commission—pulls referential, preparatory materials into the novel in order to reimagine the sociality and institutionality of the writing process.
“Notation After ‘The Reality Effect’: Remaking Reference with Roland Barthes and Sheila Heti” is from Representations’ special issue Denotatively, Technically, Literally. The introduction to the issue by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt is available online free of charge.
”George Eliot’s Science Fiction”
by Ian Duncan
In this essay Ian Duncan tracks the strangeness of scientific language in Eliot’s fiction, showing how her recourse to comparative mythology and biology in Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda engages a conjectural history of symbolic language shared by the Victorian human and natural sciences. Troubling the formation of scientific knowledge as a progression from figural to literal usage, Eliot’s novels activate an oscillation between registers, in which linguistic events of metaphor become narrative events of organic metamorphosis.
“George Eliot’s Science Fiction” is from Representations‘ special issue Denotatively, Technically, Literally. The introduction to the issue by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt is available online free of charge.
Denotatively, Technically, Literally
The Literary and Its Outsides
Tuesday, April 1, 5–7:00 pm
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall
Townsend Center for the Humanities
Margaret Cohen (Stanford University)
Ian Duncan (UC Berkeley)
Elaine Freedgood (New York University)
Cannon Schmitt (University of Toronto)
Stephen Best (UC Berkeley)
Kent Puckett (UC Berkeley)
Four contributors to the current special issue of Representations (No. 125, Winter 2014), co-edited by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt, will offer reflections on language–denotative, technical, literal–conventionally excluded from critical reading and, thus, from “literature.” Discussants include Stephen Best (editorial board, Representations, co-editor of the special issue “Surface Reading,” No. 108, 2009) and Kent Puckett (co-chair, editorial board, Representations).
The Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, UCB
The Nineteenth Century and Beyond Working Group, UCB
The Florence Green Bixby Chair in English, UCB
Pan-Optics: Perspectives on Visual Privacy & Surveillance
March 6, 2014; Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall, 10:30-4:30
Advances in drone aircraft, networked cameras, and recent disclosures about the NSA’s international and domestic surveillance activities have stimulated public protests, outrage from activists, and new policy discussions among elected leaders. This symposium will highlight emerging perspectives on visual privacy and consider the state of the art from a variety of disciplines and professions, including technology, journalism, filmmaking and the arts.
Among the many presenters and panelists are Rebecca MacKinnon, Senior Research Fellow at the New American Foundation; Trevor Paglen, artist and social scientist; Ken Golberg, Faculty Director of the CITRIS Data & Democracy Initiative; and Kriss Ravetto, Director of the Mellon Research Initiative in Digital Cultures at UC Davis and author of the “Shadowed by Images: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and the Art of Surveillance” (Representations 111, Summer 2010).
For further information and to register, visit bit.ly/pan-optices2014.
The way we once learned history is now history.
Representations editorial board members David Henkin and Rebecca McLennan have just published a new US history survey, Becoming America: A History for the 21st Century.
Developed for students and instructors of the twenty-first century, Becoming America excites learners by connecting history to their experience of contemporary life. You can’t travel back in time, but you can be transported, and Becoming America does so by expanding the traditional core of the US survey to include the most contemporary scholarship on cultural, technological, and environmental transformations. At the same time, the program transforms the student learning experience through innovative technology that is at the forefront of the digital revolution. As a result, the Becoming America program makes it easier for students to grasp both the distinctiveness and the familiarity of bygone eras, and to think in a historically focused way about the urgent questions of our times.
For literary readers, the categories of the denotative, literal, and technical do not, cannot, or should not exist. No language can be denotative or literal for us, since language, above all literary language, never means what it says, pace recent attempts to declare otherwise. A purely technical language would be the opposite of the language of the literary text: operational in precisely the way the literary text is not. We do not use Heart of Darkness as a sailing manual or a handbook for the extraction of natural resources from colonized places, and we have no doubt that those who treat Thomas Hardy’s novels as travel guides to southwestern England are missing the point (although a large tourist industry does thus operationalize them, and quite successfully)….
–Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt
Continue reading this introduction to Representations 125, the special issue Denotatively, Technically, Literally, here.