Kirkus Review: Loaded Words

February 29, 2012

LOADED WORDS
By Marjorie Garber
304 pages
9780823242054, paperback, $26.00
Pub date: June 1, 2012

A vigorous, revealing collection about the pleasures and revelations of close reading, whether it involves words, books, biographies or ideas.

Renowned scholar Garber (English/Harvard Univ.; The Use and Abuse of Literature, 2011, etc.) is a deep thinker who never has to look far for inspiration—life and literature are full of untapped mysteries, and the more you slow down, the more you see. She finds large-scale drama in the small, abstract or arcane, reveling in how ordinary words keep secrets, how exclusive words (like genius) become clichés, how a rare edition of Hamlet can conceal hidden agendas and how historic figures become advertising “brands.” An essay on the word mad forges a credible connection between Mad magazine, the TV show Mad Men, Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and that original mad man, Hamlet. Shakespeare recurs throughout the book; as she demonstrated in her massive guidebook Shakespeare After All (2004), he’s the lens through which Garber often sees the world. The same goes for the great critic F.O. Matthiessen, recalled here in a superb tribute focusing on how his background in Elizabethan studies prepared him to understand 19th-century American literature. The use of the phrase “honey trap” in newspaper accounts of Julian Assange’s rape trial leads to Winnie the Pooh and the possible anti-German bias of “hunny.” Tackling Coleridge’s “unfinished” poem “Kubla Khan,” Garber raises questions as to what it means for a work of art to be cut short. In a final essay, the author offers a stirring defense of the humanities as the division of the university that deliberately doesn’t solve problems; it wrestles with interpretations, not final answers.

The same goes for this intellectually generous and rewarding book. Like its many subjects, it repays the close attention it commands. KIRKUS REVIEWS

February 29, 2012 LOADED WORDS By Marjorie Garber 304 pages 9780823242054, paperback, $26.00 Pub date: June 1, 2012 A vigorous, revealing collection about the pleasures and revelations of close reading, whether it involves words, books, biographies or ideas. Renowned scholar … Full Story

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Twitter Share to Twitter More...

Where Is Publishing Going?

From panel discussion called “Getting Published Today” at Bard College

By Helen Tartar, February 10, 2012

Photo by Bruce Gilbert

To give you my practical advice on getting published, I can direct you to a piece entitled “Writing a Book Proposal and Choosing a Publisher”. Or Google “helen tartar editor,” go into the Fordham ImPressions archive, and click on “Read More.” Therefore, my remarks here will be more general. When I asked Julia Rosenbaum for advice, she suggested that I talk about “Where is publishing going?” And so I will, though, as I told her, the answer to that can be quickly said.

I do not know, and I cannot know for sure, where publishing is going. To which I would add: if you meet someone who says she does know, don’t trust her—she is probably either trying to sell you something or under the sway of someone who’s trying to sell her something.

In a very mundane and specific way, I do something every day to contribute to where publishing is going. As an acquiring editor at a small university press, I orchestrate decisions about what gets published at the publishing house where I am employed, and I do what I can to help influence how those books are offered to the public. Because those decisions are sometimes tough and painful, it’s very important for me to remember that I do not know where publishing is going—that in fact I have to learn this from the people who come to me seeking to get published. Because the future of publishing lies in the books that people write.

One can, of course, know only two things about the future: first, that one cannot know with certainty what it will be; and second, that one cannot help wanting to do so. In China, writing was born entwined with the hope of divining the future, through the cracks in turtle shells. At our late date, we tend to think of writing as the source of history— despite Plato’s early warning that it is memory’s foe. But maybe part of the disquiet behind the question “Where is publishing going?” reflects some unsettled temporality latent in writing itself. READ MORE

From panel discussion called “Getting Published Today” at Bard College By Helen Tartar, February 10, 2012 To give you my practical advice on getting published, I can direct you to a piece entitled “Writing a Book Proposal and Choosing a … Full Story

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Twitter Share to Twitter More...

Happy Birthday Toni Morrison!

Literary giant, Toni Morrison was born on February 18, 1931. Her novels have sparked the American imagination in libraries, homes, and classrooms across the country, and continue to influence generations of readers.

In the next few months we will publishing Toni Morrison: An Ethical Poetics by Yvette Christiansë and I am reminded of the Contemporary American Fiction Class I took with Professor Jonathan Levin where I read Song of Solomon as a junior.

I unearthed my essay on Song of Solomon that I had long since forgotten. In it I stressed that Song of Solomon is a novel that stresses the importance that a traditional past has on a contemporary American. Morrison creates a novel that is filled with largely religious references that form a commentary on contemporary American society, which appears to be moving towards secularization. However, the main character, Milkman takes a journey that shows the reader that a contemporary individual cannot break with their religion any more than Milkman can break with his cultural and religious past because it is the past that completes him. Milkman takes a leap at the end of the novel in which he lives life to the fullest, because in that second between life and death, he is free. A beautiful and painful concept.

I think that Song of Solomon may be the only work I have read by Toni Morrison. There is a copy of Paradise sitting on a bookshelf. With our upcoming publication, I just might dust both off and immerse myself in the writings of Toni Morrison, with Professor Christiansë as my guide.

Katie Sweeney

Literary giant, Toni Morrison was born on February 18, 1931. Her novels have sparked the American imagination in libraries, homes, and classrooms across the country, and continue to influence generations of readers. In the next few months we will publishing … Full Story

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Twitter Share to Twitter More...

Loaded Words Tells a Story of Abundance, Excess, Danger, and Desire.

It comes as no surprise FUP has a love affair with literature. Kicking off February 2012 has been the publication of The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Elissa Marder. Marder deftly explores how “the mother” haunts Freud’s writings on art and literature. Need we say more?

Every season we look forward to the unique and quirky angles our authors take on great works of literature. From exploring the story of Lot’s wife leaving Sodom and Gomorrah to arguing that love is another form of technology. We at FUP believe that love is for the over-educated!

But what happens when love goes awry? When the very diction we use becomes explosive? With a cover that would make Mae West proud, literary and cultural critic Marjorie Garber invites readers to join her in a rigorous and exuberant exploration of language in Loaded Words.  What links the pieces included in this vibrant new collection is the author’s contention that all words are inescapably loaded—that is, highly charged, explosive, substantial, intoxicating, fruitful, and overbrimming—and that such loading is what makes language matter.

‘‘Would you like to take a walk?’’ may sound like an open question, but try it on (a) your dog, (b) a hothead in a bar, or (c) the person to whom you are about to propose marriage, and see how ‘‘loaded’’ this simple query can become.

Garber casts her keen eye on terms from knowledge, belief, madness, interruption, genius, and celebrity to humanities, general education, and academia. Included here are an array of stirring essays, from the title piece, with its demonstration of the importance of language to our thinking about the world; to the superb “Mad Lib,” on the concept of madness from Mad magazine to debates between Foucault and Derrida; to pieces on Shakespeare, “the most culturally loaded name of our time,” and the Renaissance.

What’s not to love? That you have to wait until April 2012 for Loaded Words to publish. I’ve included a sneak peek, but here are some Mad Libs to hold you over until then.

Staff Literature Picks

 

It comes as no surprise FUP has a love affair with literature. Kicking off February 2012 has been the publication of The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Elissa Marder. Marder deftly explores how “the mother” haunts Freud’s … Full Story

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Twitter Share to Twitter More...

Charles Dickens: 200 Years

Today marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Dickens was the best-known novelist of his time and considered by many to be the greatest writer from the Victorian Era. Even today, his works live on in English classrooms. One cannot easily forget Miss Havisham, Bob Cratchit, or Charles Darney.

In light of his bicentennial, there are celebrations and commentaries spanning the globe—from the U.S. to Dicken’s hometown in Portsmouth, U.K.

Check out these links for more information.

Dickens 2012

Dickens Musuem

NYC Museums Celebrate Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday

World Celebrates 200th Anniversary of Dickens’ Birth

Charles Dickens’s 200th Birthday: Name your #ModernDickensBooks

Here at FUP, we’re celebrating, by giving a nod to The Pleasures of Memory: Learning to Read with Charles Dickens by Sarah Winter. Examining a set of Dickens’s most popular novels from The Pickwick Papers to Our Mutual Friend, Winter shows how his serial fiction instigated specific reading practices by reworking the conventions of religious didactic tracts from which most Victorians learned to read. Incorporating an influential associationist psychology of learning and reading founded on the cumulative functioning of memory, Dickens’s serial novels consistently lead readers to reflect on their reading as a form of shared experience, thus channeling their personal memories of Dickens’s “unforgettable” scenes and characters into a public reception reaching across social classes.

Dickens’s celebrity authorship, Winter argues, represented both a successful marketing program for popular fiction and a cultural politics addressed to a politically unaffiliated, social-activist Victorian readership. As late-nineteenth-century educational reforms in Britain and the United States consolidated Dickens’s heterogeneous constituency of readers into the “mass” populations served by national and state school systems, however, Dickens’s beloved novels came to embody the socially inclusive and humanizing goals of democratic education.

Read more.

Today marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Dickens was the best-known novelist of his time and considered by many to be the greatest writer from the Victorian Era. Even today, his works live on in English classrooms. One … Full Story

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Twitter Share to Twitter More...