World Lit II - Class Notes for January 24, 2012


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World Lit II - Class Notes for January 24, 2012

  1. 1. World Literature II Renaissance to the Present Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina January 24, 2012
  2. 2. Daily Write <ul><li>Do you think of Rabelais ( Pantagruel ) as revolutionary or traditional (or both) (or neither) and why (or why not)? </li></ul>Please do your best to answer this question in one (or two) (nice, juicy) sentence(s).
  3. 3. Upcoming Assignments <ul><li>1/19 Rabelais, Pantagruel , pp. 1-50 </li></ul><ul><li>1/24 Rabelais, Pantagruel , pp. 50-145 </li></ul><ul><li>1/26 Rabelais, Pantagruel , pp. 145-164 </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rabelais, Gargantua , pp. 205-233 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>1/31 Shakespeare, Othello , Acts 1 & 2 </li></ul><ul><li>1/2 Shakespeare, Othello , Act 3 </li></ul><ul><li>2/7 Shakespeare, Othello , Acts 4 & 5 </li></ul>
  4. 4. Some Terms Previously Mentioned… <ul><li>Carnival </li></ul><ul><li>Grotesque realism </li></ul><ul><li>Bodily lower stratum </li></ul><ul><li>Abjection </li></ul>
  5. 5. Theory heads in the house? <ul><li>Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rabelais and His World (1965/1984) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Carnival and the Carnivalesque” in Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1984) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Julia Kristeva (b. 1941) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Word, Dialogue, and Novel” in Desire in Language (1969/1980) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1982) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Auerbach’s View of Rabelais <ul><li>“ The revolutionary thing about his way of thinking is not his opposition to Christianity, but the freedom of vision, feeling, and thought which his perpetual playing with things produces, and which invites the reader to deal directly with the world and its wealth of phenomena.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Eric Auerbach, Mimesis (1946) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Rabelais: Revolutionary? <ul><li>Auerbach says that Rabelais’ “freedom of vision, feeling, and thought” is “revolutionary” </li></ul><ul><li>Bakhtin’s argument quite different </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rabelais’ freedom is not revolutionary, but rather completely traditional, steeped in the folk culture of the Middle Ages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The “revolution” in literary taste that came after Rabelais was a loss of freedom , a demand for conformity with modern cultural expectations </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Bakhtin: A Controversial Life <ul><li>Exiled as a political subversive by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote his study of Rabelais as a doctoral dissertation in the 1940s, but it was rejected and he was denied his degree </li></ul><ul><li>Rabelais and His World was finally published in 1965 </li></ul><ul><li>First published in English in 1984 </li></ul>
  9. 9. Carnival <ul><li>“ A person of the Middle Ages lived, as it were, two lives : one that was the official life, monolithically serious and gloomy, subjugated to a strict hierarchical order, full of terror, dogmatism, reverence and piety; </li></ul><ul><li>“ the other was the life of the carnival square , free and unrestricted, full of ambivalent laughter, blasphemy, the profanation of everything sacred, full of debasing and obscenities, familiar contact with everyone and everything. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Both these lives were legitimate, but separated by strict temporal boundaries.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoyevsky’s Poetics , pp. 129-30 </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Manifestations of Carnival <ul><li>Ritual spectacles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Carnival pageants such as Twelfth Night, Shrovetide, and Mardi Gras </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Comic parodies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oral or written </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Latin or vernacular </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Billingsgate” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Coarse, abusive language used in the marketplaces of London, Paris, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comes from the Billingsgate Fish Market in London, known for the fish vendors’ saucy language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dr. Broder’s term for this: obscene invective </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Carnival and Pantagruel <ul><li>According to Bakhtin, Rabelais stirs all these ingredients into the cauldron of Gargantua and Pantagruel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The tradition of ritual spectacle such as Twelfth Night, Shrovetide, and Mardi Gras </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The tradition of comic parody in Latin, French, or other languages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The tradition of obscene invective used by ordinary people in the streets and marketplaces of European cities </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Carnival Laughter and Grotesque Realism <ul><li>Bakhtin calls this culture of folk humor carnival laughter </li></ul><ul><li>Grotesque realism is Bakhtin’s term for the literary use of carnival laughter, in all its forms, by Renaissance authors such as Boccaccio, Rabelais, Cervantes, and Shakespeare </li></ul>
  13. 13. Carnival Laughter and the Bodily Lower Stratum <ul><li>“ Laughter degrades and materializes </li></ul><ul><li>“ To degrade is to bury, to sow, and to kill simultaneously, in order to bring forth something more and better </li></ul><ul><li>“ To degrade also means to concern oneself with the lower stratum of the body , the life of the belly and the reproductive organs” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World , pp. 20-21 </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Degradation and Grotesque Realism <ul><li>“ The essential principle of grotesque realism is degradation , that is, the lowering of all that is high, spiritual, ideal, abstract; it is a transfer to the material level, to the sphere of earth and body in their indissoluble unity.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World , p. 19-20 </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Traditional, Not Revolutionary <ul><li>Was characteristic of the folk culture of the Middle Ages </li></ul><ul><li>Was employed in the Renaissance by authors including Rabelais, Boccaccio, Cervantes, and and Shakespeare </li></ul><ul><li>“ Differs sharply from the aesthetic concept of the following ages” (i.e., the modern era ) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World , p. 18 </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. “The aesthetic concept of the following ages…” <ul><li>After the Reformation, authorities of Church and State alike would increasingly demand that literature be sublime </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High (not low) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spiritual (not physical) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ideal (not real) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abstract (not concrete) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why do you think this happened? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Grotesque Realism: A Celebration of Life <ul><li>“ There is nothing grossly cynical in Rabelais’ scatological images, nor in the other images of grotesque realism: the slinging of dung, the drenching in urine, the volley of scatological abuse hurled at the old, dying, yet regenerating world. </li></ul><ul><li>“ All these images represent the gay funeral of this old world; they are (in the dimension of laughter) like handfuls of sod gently dropped into the open grave, like seeds sown in the earth’s bosom .” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World , p. 176 </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Controversial in the USSR <ul><li>Bakhtin posited grotesque realism as an alternative to socialist realism , the official aesthetic doctrine of the Soviet Union </li></ul><ul><li>After 1934, literature and art in the Soviet Union, by official state decree, were required to be </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proletarian = relevant to the workers and understandable to them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Typical = scenes of every day life of the people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Realistic = strictly representational of “real life” (no science fiction, fantasy, or supernatural elements) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partisan = supportive of the aims of the Soviet State and the Communist Party </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Controversial in the USA? <ul><li>What do you think your parents would say if you told them Dr. Broder was teaching you about literature that was degrading , that brought low all that is high , spiritual , or ideal , that emphasized the body and earthly pursuits and pleasures , including mockery of church and scripture and celebration of gluttony, drunkenness, pooping and farting? </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Is Rabelais revolutionary or traditional? </li></ul><ul><li>Do carnival laughter and grotesque realism threaten the authority of Church and State? </li></ul><ul><li>Are carnival laughter and grotesque realism present today in stories, poems, plays, graphic novels, TV shows, movies, and video games? </li></ul><ul><li>What value, if any, might carnival laughter and grotesque realism have for contemporary society, culture, and politics? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Daily Write <ul><li>What point do you remember most clearly from today’s class or think was most important, and why? </li></ul>
  22. 22. World Literature II Renaissance to the Present Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina January 24, 2012