Volume 8, Numbers 1-2 ”Anthologies” Editor’s note


”World Literature Today: From the Old World to the Whole World”
David Damrosch (Columbia University)
”Future anthologies of world literature must find new and better ways to manage the tensions between the reader’s world and the worlds we read about. We will need to draw closer connections between here and there, then and now, while at the same time providing the historical and cultural information to hold ourselves off from an unthinking assimilation of the foreign work to our own norms, whether political or aesthetic: we gain as little by reading Milton as a democrat as we do by reading Paradise Lost as a novel.”

”Once More to the Essay: The Essay Canon and Textbook Anthologies”
Lynn Z. Bloom (University of Connecticut)
Using contemporary canon theory and an extensive analysis of textbooks, this paper will explain how the essay, a belletristic genre in the 18th and 19th centuries, became critically undermined in the 20th century as a consequence of pedagogy that emphasized its utilitarian rather than aesthetic and intellectual functions. I will then analyze the way in which the 20th century essay canon has evolved, and identify the possible changes that may occur in the 21st century as individual teachers compile their own anthologies from print-on-demand lists of essays.”

”Anthologizing Matters: The Poetry and Prose of Recovery Work”
Karen L. Kilcup (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
”Beyond gaining the satisfaction of ushering into print again such writers as Martha Wolfenstein and Onoto Watanna, I have been reminded that a number of nontrivial, non-intellectual realities help determine what can or cannot be accomplished in today’s corporatized academy and its affiliated publishing culture. I will touch here upon the role of power and privilege of varying sorts in recovery work and in the anthologizing and criticism that complement it.”

”Is There a Future for the Heath Anthology in the Neo-Liberal State?”
Richard S. Pressman (St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas)
”As has been widely observed, an anthology, rather than being a mere collection, is a statement of canonical authority, albeit in a given moment of history. However, in a postmodern age, in which we have become so accustomed to imagining the anti-authoritarian, it’s difficult to imagine on what basis an authority could be developed to unite a society not only so multicultural but so fluid in its multicultural identities.”

”Editing Postfeminist Fiction: Finding the Chic in Lit”
Cris Mazza (University of Illinois at Chicago)
”Why don’t do you an anthology for men only?” male students asked me. ”You mean there haven’t been any yet?” I answered. ”How about most of the anthologies since the beginning of time?”

”Retreating to English: Anthologies, Literature and Theory in Japan”
Terry Caesar (Mukogawa Women’s University (Japan)
”The burden of an anthology is different in a foreign country, where the teaching of literature is far more inseparable from the teaching of language, and where consideration of another country’s literary canon has less to do with intervening in the issues responsible for its very constitution than with providing for students some fundamental cultural literacy, if only in the form of names and dates.”

”Anthologies, Literary Theory and the Teaching of Literature: An Exchange”
Gerald Graff and Jeffrey R. Di Leo (University of Illinois at Chicago
”Anthologies tend to efface the mediating intervention of criticism in literary study by reducing criticism to its dullest common denominator—informational headnotes and footnotes, arbitrary questions for study, etc.—thereby propping up the illusion that responding vividly to a literary work is fundamentally a stripped down encounter of the student up close to the text, with the critical conversation about the text factored out or even seen as an unwelcome form of professional interference.”

”The ‘Mop-up’ Work of Theory Anthologies: Theorizing the Discipline and the Disciplining of Theory”
David B. Downing (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
”Every contemporary anthology of theory confronts an institutional double bind: they must inevitably do two things at once, both of which are mutually contradictory. On the one hand, many of the theoretical essays included in the anthology tend to challenge, cross, or disrupt disciplinary borders; on the other, anthologizing itself cannot avoid its essentially disciplinary function.”

”Anthologizing Contemporary Literature: Aesthetic, Cultural, Pedagogical, and Practical Considerations”
Robert L. McLaughlin (Illinois State University)
”Now, I certainly don’t mean to compare my experiences editing Innovations: An Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Fiction to Wallace’s writing Infinite Jest, but I do think Wallace articulates wonderfully the conflicting feelings any writer (or editor) can have, feelings about the distance between conception and actualization, about the combination of self-critical awareness of the piece’s flaws and the desire that others will love it, about the pride in one’s accomplishment subverted by the knowledge of how much of the accomplishment was really out of one’s control.”

”Confessions of an Anthology Editor”
Alan D. Schrift (Grinnell College)
”I’d like to recount my intentions with each of the anthologies I’ve edited, as well as some of the questions I’m wrestling with concerning my current, and biggest, anthology project. In so doing, I hope to expose some of the functions that an anthology might serve and some of the factors that a good anthologizer must consider.”

”Anthologizing Derrida”
Simon Wortham (University Of Portsmouth, England)
”Via the work of anthologization, does Derrida’s relationship to other thinkers and to various traditions of thought become far too malleable, with the frequent result that Derrida is presented rather abstractly, vaguely and sloppily as some sort of ‘postmodernist,’ rather than as a particular thinker emerging out of a more clearly determined or locatable intellectual milieu?”

”On Anthology Headnotes”
Vincent B. Leitch (University of Oklahoma)
”… while the headnote is a humble genre fulfilling a minor service function, it does cooperate with and further some larger ideological goals current in contemporary times.”

”Janus-Faced Blockbuster” (Review essay on Cary Nelson’s Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry)
Marjorie Perloff (Stanford University)
”For whom, one wonders, can this solemn, ideologically charged anthology conceivably be designed?”

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