Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters <div style="text-align: justify;"> <p><em>Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture</em>, based at the University of Lodz, is an international and interdisciplinary journal, which seeks to engage in contemporary debates in the humanities by inviting contributions from literary and cultural studies intersecting with literary theory, gender studies, history, philosophy, and religion. <em>Text Matters</em> was founded and developed by Professor Dorota Filipczak (1963-2021).</p> <p>The journal focuses on textual realities, but contributions related to art, music, film and media studies addressing the text are also invited.</p> </div> Lodz University Press en-US Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture 2083-2931 L’homme agissant and Self-understanding: Pamela Sue Anderson on Capability and Vulnerability https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8656 <p>This article addresses Pamela Sue Anderson’s philosophy of capability and vulnerability as an important contribution to the advancement of today’s feminist ethics. Following Paul Ricœur’s hermeneutics of <em>l’homme capable</em>, Anderson extends the phenomenological perspective of the capable human subject to embrace the distinctly feminine capability. She advocates for women’s recognizing and re-inventing of themselves as capable subjects, and claims that the perturbing initial loss of confidence in their reflective capacities can be redeemed via the transformations in women’s emotional and religious lives, as well as through their creative impulse. Locating in hermeneutics’ openness to ambiguity, incompleteness and insecurity a potential to unveil the non-transparent aspects of the assumed male-female equality, Anderson focuses on the interlocking aspect of human capability and vulnerability. She calls for transforming an ignorance of vulnerability into an ethical avowal of it. In reconfiguring patriarchal culture myths, Anderson sees the possibility of re-shaping our approach to vulnerability and capability, especially the human capacity for love.</p> Małgorzata Hołda Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 7 24 10.18778/2083-2931.10.01 IT’S ABOUT TIME: Trying an Essay Film https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8657 <p>This essay is about the essay, a form (as Adorno called it) of thought alive that is partial in the two senses of the word: subjective and fragmented. Thinking as social, performative, and always un-finished; as dialogic. Through the mythical figure of Cassandra, who could foresee the future but was cursed to be never believed, I tried to “figure,” make a figural shape for the thoughts on the indifference of people towards the imminent ecological disaster of the world. At the invitation of Jakub Mikurda of the Łódź Film School to come and make an essay film, within one week, but with the participation of many great professionals, I was able to create, at least in the first draft, the essay film IT’S ABOUT TIME!</p> <p>The ambiguity of the title suggests the bringing together of my thoughts about time, in relation to history in its interrelation with the present, and, as the exclamation mark intimates, the urgency to do something. The former is enacted by a tableau vivant of Cassandra’s lover Aeneas as Caravaggio’s <em>John the Baptist</em>, with a contemporary painting by David Reed shifting over it; and by interactions with two paintings by Ina van Zyl. The urgency is presented in many of the dialogues, quoted from various sources, especially Christa Wolf’s novel <em>Cassandra</em>. I argue that “thinking in film,” with film as a medium for thought, is what the essay film’s foremost vocation is. Through a reflection on “thought-images,” which I see as the result of “image-thinking,” I also argue for the intellectual gain to be had from “essaying” thought artistically.</p> Mieke Bal Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 27 48 10.18778/2083-2931.10.02 Dalí, Disney and Destino: Alchemy in Animation https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8658 <p>Salvador Dalí claimed that he made his whole life “a work of <em>alchemy.” </em>He saw in alchemy the principle of metamorphosis and “the transmutation of bodies.” Carl Jung recognized “<em>imaginatio</em>” as the key to alchemy. As Patrick Harpur suggests: “The Work takes place in a realm intermediate between mind and matter. It is a daimonic process, a ‘chemical theatre’ in which processes and psychic transformations interpenetrate.” The alchemist does not simply work on matter, but on the self.</p> <p>In Dalí’s “paranoiac-critical method,” objects similarly seem to exist in an “intermediate realm between mind and matter”; they are animated presences, with a life of their own. The Dalínean double-image is itself a kind of alchemical magic, invoking the “transmutation of bodies.”</p> <p>In 1946, Dalí began work for the Walt Disney Company on a short film, <em>Destino</em>. This would be, he claimed, the “First Surrealist Cartoon.” The appeal of animation for him may have been based in part in what Eisenstein termed “plasmaticness”: the “ability to dynamically assume any form.” Animation, then, may be seen as a kind of “chemical theatre.” As a “realm between mind and matter,” it also functioned for Dalí as a form of <em>mundus imaginalis</em>, in which he could engage with the “obsessing” images in his psyche.</p> <p>In <em>Destino</em>, Dalí invoked the alchemical process as a journey to tranfiguration and psychological “rebirth.” The film was not completed in his lifetime; this account is based on the original storyboards which he produced.</p> David Allen Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 49 66 10.18778/2083-2931.10.03 Made to Connive: Revisioning Cinderella in a Music Video. From Disney to Arthur Pirozkhov: A Case Study https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8659 <p>The article focuses on the way in which music videos can subvert and refigure the message of literature and film. The author sets out to demonstrate how a music video entitled “Зацепила” by Arthur Pirozkhov (Aleksandr Revva) enters a dialogue with the recent Disney version of <em>Cinderella </em>by Kenneth Branagh (2015), which, in turn, is an attempt to do justice to Perrault’s famous fairy tale. Starting out with Michèle Le Dœuff’s comment on the limitations imposed upon women’s intellectual freedom throughout the centuries, Filipczak applies the French philosopher’s concept of “regulatory myth” to illustrate the impact of fairy tales and their Disney versions on the contemporary construction of femininity. In her analysis of Branagh’s film Filipczak contends that its female protagonist is haunted by the spectre of the Victorian angel in the house which has come back with a vengeance in contemporary times despite Virginia Woolf’s and her followers’ attempts to annihilate it. Paradoxically, the music video, which is still marginalized in academia on account of its popular status, often offers a liberating deconstruction of regulatory myths. In the case in question, it allows the viewers to realize how their intellectual horizon is limited by the very stereotypes that inform the structure of Perrault’s <em>Cinderella</em>. This makes viewers see popular culture in a different light and appreciate the explosive power of music videos which can combine an artistic message with a perceptive commentary on stereotypes masked by seductive glamour.</p> Dorota Filipczak Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 67 78 10.18778/2083-2931.10.04 Camp and Pop: David Bowie, Oskar Schlemmer, Madonna and Janelle Monáe https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8660 <p>While contemporary pop culture is nowadays considered part of the cultural mainstream, its practices of codification and its use and circulation of signifiers are still shaped by its roots in counterculture. This leads to a second order esthetic that reflects upon mass culture and subverts it by means of transgression and rearrangement. This essay argues that this subversive logic of reference is closely linked to what Susan Sontag has described as “camp.” While doing so it not only sheds light on the aspect of subversion and identity building, but also on the aspect of performance and staging that plays an important role for camp, as well as pop culture and its play with artificiality and authenticity. As a consequence the concept of camp is used to examine the practice and performance of artists like David Bowie, Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Janelle Monáe, and finding structural similarity in their practice and production, which uncovers a tendency towards apersonal self-historization which is typical for pop and is closely linked to its ability to generate new meanings out of materials that stem from other contexts originally.</p> Kathrin Dreckmann Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 79 92 10.18778/2083-2931.10.05 Cowboy Cops and Black Lives Matter: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and the Great White West[ern] https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8661 <p>The racial framework of Martin McDonagh’s 2017 film <em>Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri </em>rests at the intersection of three persistent cultural myths—the Frontier Myth, the hero cowboy myth and the myth of white supremacy. There has been much criticism of the portrayal of black characters in the film, and particularly the <em>lack </em>of significant black characters in a film that sports a solid undercurrent of racial politics. While the black characters in the film occupy a small amount of screen time, this paper argues that the film’s treatment of black characters, including their absence, puts on display the cultural dysfunction of racial politics in the US, especially in rural America, and particularly in Missouri. The film’s subversion of the cowboy hero instead reveals the disturbing reality of the Frontier Myth and its dependence on racism and white supremacy for validation. In its unmasking of myth, <em>Three Billboards </em>challenges the illusion of a glorious Western past that never existed and at the same time supports racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.</p> Debbie Olson Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 93 117 10.18778/2083-2931.10.06 Representing Absence: Contemporary Ekphrasis in “Apesh-t” https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8662 <p>Traditionally, ekphrasis has been defined as the description and analysis of works of art in poetry, and so it has been understood as the verbalization of visual images (Sager Eidt). The article examines the concept in the light of contemporary definitions that include non-verbal media as targets (Cariboni Killander, Lutas and Strukelj; Sager Eidt; Bruhn; Pethö) in order to analyze its applicability to music videos.</p> <p>It concentrates in particular on “Apesh-t,” a video for a track by Beyoncé and Jay-Z from the album <em>Everything Is Love </em>(2018). The video is filmed in different interiors of the Louvre, where the singers appear, together with an ensemble of dancers, in front of selected artworks. The discussion focuses on an analysis of a single shot which presents an ekphrastic re-configuration of one particular work of European art, Jacques-Louis David’s <em>Portrait of Madame Récamier </em>(1800).</p> <p>The author argues that the use of ekphrasis in the video—through elaboration (close-ups and editing) and repurposing of the source material (painting)—plays an important role in the construction of the theme of “absence”: invoking not only what is represented, but what is <em>not </em>represented in David’s painting. It also foregrounds the potential of ekphrasis as a tool of political and cultural resistance, in the way it intervenes in the representation of the “other” in art and in the museum space.</p> Agata Handley Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 118 134 10.18778/2083-2931.10.07 Journeys of Becoming: Hair, the Blogosphere and Theopoetics in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8663 <p>Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel <em>Americanah </em>provides provocative reflections on intertextuality and becoming by exploring the potentially transformative power of “blog-writing.” Through a combined reading of Mayra Rivera’s <em>Poetics of the Flesh </em>and Adichie’s <em>Americanah</em>, this article details intersections between the virtual and the material; writing <em>in </em>the (imagined “other-wordly”) blogosphere <em>about </em>the organic matter of hair. The narrator of the novel, Ifemelu, establishes a blog after she shares her story to decide to stop using relaxants and to allow her hair to be natural, via an online chat-room; she refuses to go through ritual performances in order to succeed as a migrant in America. In this article I argue that Adichie’s detailing of Ifemelu’s relationship with her hair explores the way in which creative practice, or poetics, is intimately connected to the journey of our flesh; social history is marked on our bodies. The blog becomes a confessional which details the demeaning effect that social constructions of race have had on her body. But the blog ultimately becomes self-destructive. It is only when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria that she embodies the transformative and cathartic power of contemporary modes of story-telling, and where she is finally able to “spin herself into being.”</p> Fiona Darroch Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 135 150 10.18778/2083-2931.10.08 In the Universe of Cassandra: The Ancient Topos of Clairvoyance in the Futuristic World of Minority Report (2002) https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8664 <p>The figure of Cassandra is well-known from numerous representations in ancient and modern literature as an archetype of a woman who has the power to see the future, but whose visions are not believed. In ancient Greek literature, Cassandra was an important character serving as a prophet of an approaching catastrophe. In her modern adaptations, this figure became a metaphor in psychoanalytical research on human moral behaviour (Melanie Klein and the Cassandra complex) developed in feminist writing. Cassandra has also been of interest to filmmakers, with perhaps the best adaptation of the subject of Cassandra’s clairvoyance being Steven Spielberg’s film <em>Minority Report</em>. Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s 1956 short story <em>The Minority Report</em>, the plot presents a version of the Cassandra myth, in which a woman together with male twins operate as a group mind to predict future crimes. Their visions are used by the state to prevent the crimes and imprison the would-be criminals. This article offers a thorough analysis of all the ancient and modern features of the metaphor of Cassandra employed in this movie within the overarching framework of the central theme of free will vs. determinism. According to this approach, the central theme is examined with reference to ancient Aristotelian and Stoic moral philosophy, the modern feminist psychoanalysis of Melanie Klein, and the political philosophy and legal issues in the post-9/11 world.</p> Małgorzata Budzowska Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 151 165 10.18778/2083-2931.10.09 “No Direction Home”: The Life and Literature of Bob Dylan–From “Desolation Row” to the Nobel Prize https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8665 <p>Using the Nobel Prize as a prism through which to view the life and literature of a difficult-to-define artist, this article argues that Dylan’s output is one in which life and literature become, and have always been, indistinguishable. It is the life which has made the literature, through years lived in a particular niche of 1960s counter-cultural history; the lyrics gave voice to a man who was never at ease in the formalities of interview. For a supposed spokesman of a generation Dylan spoke very little except through his songs. So too in the more difficult-to-define later decades, little of his life was spoken of except through song, and some samplings of autobiography. Detailing the historically distinctive features of the Nobel Prize, the article shows how Bob Dylan has, through life and literature, broken down the boundaries between the literary and the popular. The article’s title is drawn, of course, from a famous line in Bob Dylan’s era-defining “Like a Rolling Stone,” one which Martin Scorsese used to title a full-length documentary on the life of Bob Dylan. Dylan here occupies the borderlands where art imitates life, and life imitates art. I argue, contrary to critical consensus, that there is a direction home. In Dylan’s lifetime of existentially staring death (political death, the death of romance) in the face, there is some glimpse of home. It is that glimpse which gives the poet’s lyrical output its endurance as literature.</p> Liam Gearon Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 166 181 10.18778/2083-2931.10.10 Billy Woods’s Literary Intertexts https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8667 <p>While—like all artistic forms—it allows for deviation from this standard rule, rap is heavily reliant on building blocks of sixteen bars and a refrain. In addition, rhyme plays a prominent role in structuring rap, which is why the form is also colloquially referred to as “rhyming.” In view of this, Billy Woods’s record <em>Today, I Wrote Nothing </em>was a considerable departure from the existing rap norm. On the record, Woods stylistically adapted a collection of works by Russian absurdist writer Daniil Kharms, which was also called <em>Today, I Wrote Nothing</em>. Kharms was known for writing short prose without any formal structure. Most of his stories deal with absurd situations and slapstick humour. The structure of the fragmented fiction is adapted into rap on Woods’s record. The long rap verses are replaced by short songs without any specific narrative. The record maintains the non-structure of Kharms’s writing, as well as its absurdity, but it abandons any semblance of traditional rap. The second important stylistic and structural choice made in Woods’s record was the integration of aspects of Flannery O’Connor’s writing, particularly its humour and darkness. The article will focus on how Billy Woods integrates intertextuality into his lyrics to give the songs additional layers of meaning.</p> Jožef Kolarič Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 182 193 10.18778/2083-2931.10.11 Stranger Than Fiction: Gothic Intertextuality in Shakespears Sister’s Music Videos https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8668 <p>The following article is going to focus on a selection of music videos by Shakespears Sister, a British indie pop band consisting of Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit, which rose to prominence in the late 1980s. This article scrutinizes five of the band’s music videos: “Goodbye Cruel World” (1991), “I Don’t Care” (1992), “Stay” (1992), “All the Queen’s Horses” (2019) and “When She Finds You” (2019; the last two filmed 26 years after the duo’s turbulent split), all of them displaying a strong affinity with Gothicism. Fahey and Detroit, together with director Sophie Muller, a long-time collaborator of the band, have created a fascinating world that skillfully merges references to their tempestuous personal background, Gothic imagery, Hollywood glamour and borrowings from Grande Dame Guignol, a popular 1960s subgenre of the horror film. Grande Dame Guignol is of major importance here as a genre dissecting female rivalry and, thus, reinterpreting a binary opposition of the damsel in distress and the tyrant, an integral element of Gothic fiction. Therefore, the aim of the article is not only to trace the Gothic references, both literary and cinematic, but also to demonstrate how Shakespears Sister’s music videos reformulate the conventional woman in peril-villain conflict.</p> Tomasz Fisiak Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 194 208 10.18778/2083-2931.10.12 Metanarratives and Storytelling in Contemporary Mainstream Popular Music: Romeo and Juliet in the Making of the Star Persona https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8672 <p>This article analyzes how mainstream artists respond to the dynamics of online fan communities, developing complex metanarratives that interrelate their songs and music videos with their “personal” activity on social media. Audiences analyze in depth and discuss each release, contributing to its viralization on the internet. However, these strategies need strong narratives that allow convincing developments and transmedia storytelling, and this is where literature becomes a significant source of inspiration. I argue that the assumption (or subversion) of popular literary characters and narratives contributes to a positioning of artists in the music scene and facilitates their “reading” by the audience. To illustrate this process, I analyze the references to <em>Romeo and Juliet </em>by mainstream pop artists in the last decade, paying special attention to Troye Sivan’s debut album <em>Blue Neighborhood </em>(2015), considered a homosexual version of Shakespeare’s drama, and to Halsey’s concept album <em>Hopeless Fountain Kingdom </em>(2017), understood as a queer version of the play. Both artists explained their personal reading of Shakespeare’s drama as a way of expressing their own feelings and experiences. These examples of metanarrative storytelling achieved their aim, and millions of fans engaged with both artists, discussing lyrics, photos and music videos related to <em>Romeo and Juliet </em>on social media.</p> Eduardo Viñuela Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 209 222 10.18778/2083-2931.10.13 Taking Horror as You Find It: From Found Manuscripts to Found Footage Aesthetics https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8673 <p>An authenticator of the story and a well-tested enhancer of immersion, the trope of the found manuscript has been a persistent presence in Gothic writing since the birth of the genre. The narrative frame offered by purported textual artifacts has always aligned well with the genre’s preoccupation with questions of literary integrity, veracity, authorial originality, ontological anxiety and agency. However, for some time now the application of the found manuscript convention to Gothic fiction has been reduced to a mere token of the genre, failing to gain impact or credibility. A revival of the convention appears to have taken place with the remediation and appropriation of the principally literary trope by the language of film, more specifically, the found footage horror subgenre.</p> <p>The article wishes to survey the common modes and purposes of the found manuscript device (by referring mostly to works of classical Gothic literature, such as <em>The Castle of Otranto</em>, <em>Dracula </em>and <em>Frankenstein</em>) to further utilize Dirk Delabastita’s theories on intersemiotic translation and investigate the gains and losses coming with transfiguring the device into the visual form. Found footage horrors have remained both exceptionally popular with audiences and successful at prolonging the convention by inventing a number of strategies related to performing authenticity. The three films considered for analysis, <em>The Blair Witch Project </em>(1999), <em>Paranormal Activity </em>(2007) and <em>REC </em>(2007), exhibit clear literary provenance, yet they also enhance purporting credibility respectively by rendering visual rawness, appealing to voyeuristic tastes, and exploiting susceptibility to conspiratorial thinking.</p> Tomasz Sawczuk Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 223 235 10.18778/2083-2931.10.14 The Consumptive Significance of Images and Interface Values in Cyberpunk Cities https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8674 <p>Cyberpunk is one of the latest genres in the development of science fiction. The genre emerged during the 80s and 90s, and in it the characters are confronted by an abundance of images and interface values. As a result, these images and values have become key identifying motifs of this genre. Referring to the theoretical conceptualizations of Adam Roberts about novum, and Lieven De Cauter on capsules and capsulization, the present study argues that the reason for the abundance of images and interface values is due to their facilitation of the consumption of novelties in cyberpunk cities. Within a scientific and rational discourse, images and interface values combine familiar and unfamiliar concepts and package them both as convenient commodities to be consumed by the characters of cyberpunk fiction. One of the key outcomes of such a combination, the study argues, is that the characters of cyberpunk fiction rely on the consumption of images and interface values as a convenient means to handle the overwhelming presence of technological and cybernetic advancements in the represented cities. This outcome turns the need to see and consume the cyberpunk world through images and interface values into an ideological necessity—or what can also be called a defense mechanism—for the characters against the technological shock of cybernetic advancements; a necessity whose qualities will be discussed in the study, as well.</p> Hossein Mohseni Kian Soheil Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 236 256 10.18778/2083-2931.10.15 The Death of Language: Listening to the Echoes (of Georges Bataille) in "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II—The Sith Lords" https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8675 <p>This article is, firstly, an analysis of Kreia, a character from the <em>Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II—The Sith Lords </em>video game, a character whose role in the game is pivotal: the conversations the player has with Kreia serve as the main narrative basis for the entire game experience. Secondly, on the basis of a collection of quotations from these conversations, this article juxtaposes Kreia and Georges Bataille. An intriguing variant of the blind seer trope is revealed in Kreia through studying the game’s poetics, in which a focus on the sense of hearing is discerned. Kreia and Bataille are compared in their understandings of the universe, and a similarity between their ulterior motives is discovered: both of them struggled against something which was considered to be an inextricable element of their respective universes.</p> Marcin Hanuszkiewicz Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 257 273 10.18778/2083-2931.10.16 Online Humour, Cartoons, Videos, Memes, Jokes and Laughter in the Epoch of the Coronavirus https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8676 <p>From the onset of the indefinite deferral of our previously taken-for-granted lives, an abundance of humorous online cartoons, jokes, memes, videos and other satirical material relating to the COVID-19 outbreak—and its consequences—has emerged. Humorous responses to this dire global pandemic proliferate irrespective of location, nationality, ethnicity, age, gender and/or socio-political affiliations. Against a background of enforced lockdowns, quarantine, and sometimes gross political ineptitude, with a mounting daily global death toll, humour referencing this scourge continues to blossom. This may seem counterintuitive or inappropriate at a time of heightened anxiety and fear apropos of an invisible killer-virus, known only in diagrammatic—and, ironically, aesthetically pleasing—visual form. Online humour evoking the COVID-19 crisis is expressed recursively via intertextuality referencing literary, visual, written, oral or other “texts.” Interpictoriality is evident with memes that reconfigure renowned visual artworks. The internet enables copious discourse related to the COVID-19 eruption/disruption.</p> <p>Embedded in this article are examples to support the article’s theoretical basis, with intertextuality its major focus. Discussion follows, with speculation as to why humour, absurdity and wit are able to prosper in an environment of radical uncertainty and why joking about our parlous global predicament acts as a vital coping mechanism.</p> Christine Nicholls Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 274 318 10.18778/2083-2931.10.17 Sensorial Aesthetics: Cross-Modal Stylistics in Modernist Fiction https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8677 <p>This article argues that modernist fiction pointedly involves all our senses as part of its reaction to the project of modernity and progress, as well as to Victorian realism; it is not just a response to a heighted sensibility towards new soundscapes, new perceptions of motion and new olfactory experiences in the aftermath of industrialization and modernization. This “rebellion” involves a shift of focus from outer, rational and objective reality to inner, irrational and subjective consciousness, which drives the emphasis on emotional and sensational experience. The article suggests that in light of recent important developments in cognitive, psychological and neurological research, as well as in affect studies and intermedial and multimodal studies, there is reason to revise modernist stylistics. This could predominantly be done within the theoretical field and taxonomy of intermediality, as proposed by Lars Elleström. The latter half of the article discusses some textual modernist samples to more convincingly establish a theory of modernist sensorial aesthetics.</p> Niklas Salmose Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 321 335 10.18778/2083-2931.10.18 Between Poetic Voice and Silence: Hart Crane, Yvor Winters, Metapoetics and Emily Dickinson’s Legacy https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8679 <p>The article is a comparative study of the ways in which two American modernist poets bound by a literary and human connection, Hart Crane and Yvor Winters, dealt with Emily Dickinson’s legacy in their own works. My study is an attempt to place Crane within the legacy of the American Renaissance as represented not by Walt Whitman, with whom he is customarily associated, but by Dickinson, and to examine the special place she holds in Crane’s poetry and in his thinking about poetry and the world at large. Crane’s poetic take on the Amherst poet is set against and complemented by his friend Yvor Winters’s ambiguous relationship with Dickinson’s heritage: troubled by an anxiety of influence, Winters, the poet-critic, vacillates between his reverence for the female poet and his skepticism about certain aspects of her <em>œuvre</em>. In the close readings of the poems in question undertaken in my study, the focus is on their metapoetic dimension. Particular emphasis is laid on the dialectics of silence, which plays a key role in both Crane’s and Winters’s works under discussion, as well as on the related themes of blankness and absence, poetic plenitude and perfection. Attention is also given to the problematics of death, time and timelessness. While Winters concentrates mostly on metapoetics in his exploration of the Dickinsonian tradition, Crane goes further, considering the fate of female artists and gender issues, thereby transcending poetic self-reflexiveness and addressing farther-reaching community concerns, with particular emphasis on anti-patriarchal and feminist ones.</p> Alicja Piechucka Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 336 363 10.18778/2083-2931.10.19 “Our Eyes Adjust to the Dark”: The Cosmic Sublime in Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8681 <p>The cosmic sublime, as the most spectacular manifestation of the natural sublime, offers rich stimuli for the literary imagination, as well as for various interactions between science, culture and art. In her book of poetry <em>Life on Mars </em>(2011), Tracy K. Smith uses tropes of cosmic perspective, scientific gaze and interplanetary travel to problematize the relationship between human finitude and the boundless unknown of the universe. Written after the death of her father, who was one of the engineers of the Hubble telescope, the volume links personal elegy and the work of mourning with philosophical questions about the relationship between the self and scientifically framed visions of the cosmos. The primary intention of my study is to examine the strategies and implications of the poet’s revisionary engagement with the aesthetics, rhetoric, popular mythology and mysticism of the spatial infinite. Smith employs the cosmic sublime not only as a spatial mode of perception but also as a metaphor of the emotional response to death. Her adaptation of the category expands the frame of reference for the purposes of an existential inquiry into the nature of humanity and transcendence. The celebration of imaginative freedom and modern science’s command of nature is further linked to constant apprehension about the human abuse of power and to anxieties triggered by the sublime mythology of transcendence, informed by a desire for dominating the other to the point of possession.</p> Paulina Ambroży Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 364 391 10.18778/2083-2931.10.20 “By [some] other means”: Talking (about) Racism and Race through Visual Arts in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. An American Lyric https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8682 <p>Claudia Rankine’s <em>Citizen. An American Lyric </em>is a perplexing work of literature both because of its original presentation of the issue of racism in the US today and the original formal ways through which its message is communicated. It is formally innovative and technically experimental in an unusual “average reader”-friendly manner, situating itself a world apart from postmodern “poetics of interruption and illegibility” (Davidson 602). Paradoxically, being almost a poem with a purpose, it expands existing categories. Its sociological orientation and emphasis on poetic language’s capacity to inform, instruct, emotionally move and morally engage the reader goes together with activating more experimental formal strategies, as it merges a variety of media: there are examples of spectacular instances of racism, represented by the photographs, and in a series of scripts for Situation videos made by the author in collaboration with her husband John Lucas. This article demonstrates how formal engagement with the visual arts may serve the purpose of stigmatizing racism and making poetry matter within the field of current public debate on important cultural, social and political problems discussed in historical contexts of racism-cum-race. The conceptualization of the issues discussed here is based on the notion of “seeing through race” (introduced into the field of study of the visual arts and literature by W. J. T. Mitchell in 2012), which has changed the perception of the relationship between race and racism.</p> Jerzy Kamionowski Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 392 407 10.18778/2083-2931.10.21 Frances Wright’s America: A 19th-Century Utopia https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8683 <p>Frances Wright, a British social reformer and feminist, published an account of her American travels: <em>Views of Society and Manners in America </em>in 1821. Wright founded an experimental community in Nashoba, Tennessee, whose aim was to buy black slaves, educate them, and then liberate them. Even though the enterprise turned out to be a failure, the author continued to fight for the cause of black emancipation.</p> <p>My paper examines Wright’s portrayal of America in <em>Views</em>, which, compared to most other early 19th-century British travel accounts, is surprisingly enthusiastic. Wright idealizes the young republic, seeing it as a perfect embodiment of her ideals. I argue that Wright’s vision of the young republic is utopian, and it prevents her from seeing any flaws in the American system. This is especially pronounced in the case of the central problem posed by British travelogues of the era, slavery, which troubles her not so much on moral grounds, but as a blemish on the character of the country of freedom and equality.</p> Justyna Fruzińska Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 408 422 10.18778/2083-2931.10.22 The Poetic Bliss of the Re-described Reality: Wallace Stevens: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Figurative Language https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8684 <p>The article addresses the issue of the intimate but troublesome liaison between philosophy and literature—referred to in scholarship as “the ancient quarrel between poets and philosophers.” Its aim is double-fold. First, it traces the interweaving paths of philosophical and literary discourse on the example of Wallace Stevens’s <em>oeuvre</em>. It demonstrates that this great American modernist advocates a clear distinction between poetry and philosophy on the one hand, but draws on and dramatizes philosophical ideas in his poems on the other. The vexing character of his poetic works exemplifies the convoluted and inescapable connections between philosophy and poetry. Second, it discusses various approaches to metaphor, highlighting Stevens’s inimitable take on it. The diverse ways of tackling metaphorical language cognize metaphor’s re-descriptive and reconfiguring character. They embrace e.g., Stevens’s concept of metaphor as <em>metamorphosis</em>, or as “resemblance rather than imitation.” The to date interpretations of Stevens’s poetry in the light of a whole host of philosophies yield important insights into the meaningful interconnections between poetry and philosophy. However, rather than offering another interpretation of his poems from a given philosophical angle, the versatile voices presented here interrogate what poetry consists in.</p> Małgorzata Hołda Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 423 432 10.18778/2083-2931.10.23 Systemic Intertextuality. A Morphogenetic Perspective https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8685 <p>If late modern literary production is structured by any principles rendering order to the otherwise nebular character of the process, this is the idea of intertextuality that paves the way for the dissolution of well entrenched structures, literary conventions and institutionalized canons. By fostering and facilitating the erosion of boundaries between elite and popular culture, mechanisms of intertextuality show that literature is not only a fixed collection of texts, but also a dynamic social system including structured practices of production and reception together with their institutional, cultural and technological determinants. The paper aims to provide a sociologically-oriented model of intertextual relations taking place within the social system of literature. In this context, circulation, dissemination, and recycling of literary motifs is viewed from a perspective of morphogenetic processes which result in the structural elaboration and systemic change due to the mobilization of social, cultural, and economic capitals in an effort to alter pre-existent practices of signification. Consequently, literature is discussed as an intertextual system <em>in statu nascendi</em>, a sphere of social practices that knows no sense of institutional boundaries or structural constraints.</p> Tomasz Burzyński Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 433 445 10.18778/2083-2931.10.24 “Sardoodledom” on the English Stage: T. W. Robertson and the Assimilation of Well-Made Play into the English Theatre https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/8686 <p>The article discusses a vital figure in the development of modern English theatre, Thomas William Robertson, in the context of his borrowings, inspirations, translations and adaptations of the French dramatic formula pièce bien faite (well-made play). The paper gives the definition and enumerates features of the formula created with great success by the French dramatist Eugène Scribe. Presenting the figure of Thomas William Robertson, the father of theatre management and realism in Victorian theatre, the focus is placed on his adaptations of French plays and his incorporation of the formula of the well-made play and its conventional dramatic devices into his original, and most successful, plays, Society and Caste. The paper also examines the critical response to the well-made play in England and dramatists who use its formula, especially from the point of view of George Bernard Shaw, who famously called the French plays of Scribe and Victorien Sardou—“Sardoodledom.”</p> Anna Prośniak Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 446 459 10.18778/2083-2931.10.25 Wartime Propaganda and Gender in Ahmad Mahmoud’s The Scorched Earth: A Dissident Reading https://czasopisma.uni.lodz.pl/textmatters/article/view/4982 <p>The Iran-Iraq War (1980–88) has been the subject of many aesthetic productions in contemporary Persian literature. The Iranian mass media during the war with Iraq described the armed conflict as holy and masculine, and propagated the replacement of the word “war” with “sacred defense” to urge authors to write within this established framework and reflect the ideals of the State. Opposed to such an ideological view of the war, the prominent Iranian novelist Ahmad Mahmoud began to express dissent in his works of fiction such as <em>The Scorched Earth </em>(1982). This study, therefore, analyzes Mahmoud’s scope of dissidence toward wartime propaganda and gender in the above mentioned novel to articulate how Mahmoud raises important questions regarding the State’s view of war and the established gender norms in Iran at war. It uses cultural materialist dissident reading and textual analysis to study Mahmoud’s contempt for wartime propaganda through the text’s portrayal of desperate people in Khorramshahr in the southwest of Iran caught between Iraqi airstrikes and artillery fires, and domestic problems including inflation, looting and mismanagement.</p> Ramin Farhadi Copyright (c) 2020 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-24 2020-11-24 10 460 476 10.18778/2083-2931.10.26