Literal Ghosts

Ghostly Reference

by Elaine Freedgood

Ghostly reference is a malleable aspect of representation, a formal nexus that allows for the free play of belief and the production of worlds—two necessary conditions for the formation and sustenance of the liberal subject. In various fictions and one historical circumstance, this essay tries to take ghosts literally, to ask what they are as well as what they mean.

ELAINE FREEDGOOD is Professor of English at New York University, where she works on Victorian literature and culture, critical theory, and the history of the novel. She is the author of Victorian Writing About Risk: Imagining a Safe England in a Dangerous World (Cambridge 2000) and The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (Chicago 2006). Her current project is called “Worlds Enough: Fictionality and Reference in the Novel.”

“Ghostly Reference” is from Representations’ special issue Denotatively, Technically, LiterallyThe introduction to the issue by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt is available online free of charge.

Maturity and the Maritime Lexicon

Technical Maturity in Robert Louis Stevenson

by Cannon Schmitt

Technical language in novels, rare in itself, is still more rarely interpreted. Focusing on Robert Louis Stevenson’s bildungsromans, in this essay Cannon Schmitt argues that a technical maritime lexicon marks their protagonists’ accession to maturity. But that lexicon and the love for the world it attests to and demands also forces a redefinition of what it means to be mature, offering an open, adventurous, never-to-be completed Bildung that refuses the stasis of marriage or a settled profession.rls

CANNON SCHMITT teaches English at the University of Toronto. The author of Alien Nation: Nineteenth-Century Gothic Fictions and English Nationality (1997) and Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America (2009, paperback reprint 2013), he is currently at work on the Victorian novel, the sea, and the literal.

“Technical Maturity in Robert Louis Stevenson” is from Representations’ special issue Denotatively, Technically, LiterallyThe introduction to the issue by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt is available online free of charge.

Rapture of the Deep

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.

outline-of-divers-helmet-md

“Denotation in Alien Environments” is from Representations’ special issue Denotatively, Technically, LiterallyThe introduction to the issue by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt is available online free of charge.

Philosopher Catherine Malabou at Berkeley

Una’s Lecture
Photo of Catherine Malabou.

Monday, April 14, 2014 | 6:00 pm
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley

French Philosopher Catherine Malabou teaches at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University in London. She is the author of The Future of Hegel (2005), What Should We Do with Our Brain? (2008), Plasticity at the Eve of Writing (2009) and Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience (2013)Her work has created the foundation for a wide range of current research focusing on the intersections between neuro- and biological science and the humanities. Her Una’s lecture, “Odysseus’ Changed Soul,” will offer a contemporary reading of Plato’s myth of Er (Republic, Book 10).

Professor Malabou’s short essay “The King’s Two (Biopolitical) Bodies” will appear in Representations 127, available in July 2014. In residence at Berkeley through the month of April, she will be a featured speaker in the interdisciplinary conference  “Animation/Reanimation” April 18, 2014 and participate (along with Representations editorial board member David Bates) in a two-day workshop April 11-12, entitled “Plasticity and Pathology: The History and Theory of Neural Subjects.”

Preparation of the Novel and the Novel of Commission

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.

+-+818867002_70

“Notation After ‘The Reality Effect’: Remaking Reference with Roland Barthes and Sheila Heti” is from Representations’ special issue Denotatively, Technically, LiterallyThe introduction to the issue by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt is available online free of charge.

The Language of Science in George Eliot

 “George Eliot’s Science Fiction”
by Ian Duncan

479px-Eastern_equine_encephalitisIn 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, LiterallyThe introduction to the issue by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt is available online free of charge.