Literature and Theatre

William Burchell’s Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa
Matthew Shum

This chapter examines William Burchell’s Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa. It begins by examining Burchell’s status as a naturalist and argues that, though his observations were to be used by others for instrumental purposes, his understanding of the natural world was primarily guided by an ‘Orphic’ rather than a utilitarian approach. The bulk of the chapter then considers Burchell’s volatile relations with Indigenous people, in particular the San. Central to my consideration of these interactions is the fact that Burchell travelled mainly as a lone European, without any significant ability to impose his will on the people he encountered. He was thus acutely dependent on the degree of reciprocation he received from Indigenous people. To navigate this uncertain human territory, Burchell employs the literary registers of the ‘man of feeling’. The result is a revealing if uneven attempt at sympathetic interaction that opens up the possibility of transactional rather than hierarchical modes of relationship in the colonial context.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Nineteenth-century literary culture and the southern settler colonies

This collection brings together for the first time literary studies of British colonies in nineteenth-century Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Drawing on hemispheric studies, Indigenous studies, and southern theory to decentre British and other European metropoles, the collection offers a latitudinal challenge to national paradigms and traditional literary periodisations and canons by proposing a new literary history of the region that is predicated less on metropolitan turning points and more on southern cultural perspectives in multiple regional centres from Cape Town to Dunedin. With a focus on southern orientations, southern audiences, and southern modes of addressivity, Worlding the south foregrounds marginal, minor, and neglected writers and texts across a hemispheric complex of southern oceans and terrains. Drawing on an ontological tradition that tests the dominance of networked theories of globalisation, the collection also asks how we can better understand the dialectical relationship between the ‘real’ world in which a literary text or art object exists and the symbolic or conceptual world it shows or creates. By examining the literary processes of ‘worlding’, it demonstrates how art objects make legible homogenising imperial and colonial narratives, inequalities of linguistic power, textual and material violence, and literary and cultural resistance. With contributions from leading scholars in nineteenth-century literary and cultural studies, the collection revises literary histories of the ‘British world’ by arguing for the distinctiveness of settler colonialism in the southern hemisphere, and by incorporating Indigenous, diasporic, settler, and other southern perspectives.

Open Access (free)
David Brauner

A sketching out of two potential directions for future scholarship on Jacobson to take: an analysis of the importance of Manchester in and to Jacobson’s fiction; and an analysis of Jacobson as a transatlantic Jewish writer.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
Comedy, the anti-pastoral and literary politics
David Brauner

A detailed discussion of Jacobson’s comic novels, focusing on the development of his comic theory and practice in relation to the anti-pastoral tradition and in the context of literary politics.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
Philip Roth, antisemitism and the Holocaust
David Brauner

A detailed discussion of Jacobson’s representation of Jewishness, in relation to the work of Philip Roth and in the context of antisemitism and the legacy of the Holocaust in post-war Jewish fiction.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
Masculinity, mortaliity and sexual politics
David Brauner

A detailed discussion of Jacobson’s representation of masculinity, in relation to the theme of mortality and in the context of broader issues of sexual politics.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
Author:

This is a comprehensive and definitive study of the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist Howard Jacobson. It offers lucid, detailed and nuanced readings of each of Jacobson’s novels, and makes a powerful case for the importance of his work in the landscape of contemporary fiction. Focusing on the themes of comedy, masculinity and Jewishness, the book emphasises the richness and diversity of Jacobson’s work. Often described by others as ‘the English Philip Roth’ and by himself as ‘the Jewish Jane Austen’, Jacobson emerges here as a complex and often contradictory figure: a fearless novelist; a combative public intellectual; a polemical journalist; an unapologetic elitist and an irreverent outsider; an exuberant iconoclast and a sombre satirist. Never afraid of controversy, Jacobson tends to polarise readers; but, love him or hate him, he is difficult to ignore. This book gives him the thorough consideration and the balanced evaluation that he deserves.

Open Access (free)
David Brauner

An overview of Jacobson’s career, the critical reception of his novels, and the structure of the book, setting out the range of different roles that he performs: novelist; critic; journalist; and public intellectual.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
Food and Identity in His Life and Fiction
Emily Na

This article traces how the queer Black writer James Baldwin’s transnational palate and experiences influenced the ways he wrote about Black domestic spaces in the late twentieth century. In the 1960s and 1970s, while Black feminist cooks and writers like Edna Lewis, Jessica B. Harris, and Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor developed new theories of soul food in relation to the Black American community and broader American cuisine, Baldwin incorporated these philosophies and transnational tastes into his lifestyle and works. He traveled and worked around Europe, settling in places like Paris, Istanbul, and Saint-Paul de Vence for years at a time. In Saint-Paul de Vence, where he spent his last years, he set up his own welcome table, at which he hosted internationally renowned guests and shared his love of cuisine. Inevitably, Baldwin’s passion for cooking and hosting meals became a large, though scholarly neglected, component of his novels and essays. In his novels Another Country, which he finished in Istanbul and published in 1962, and Just Above My Head, which he finished in Saint-Paul de Vence and published in 1979, Baldwin’s depictions of food and Black kitchens take a queer turn. Instead of lingering on traditional Black family structures, these texts specifically present new formulations of intimate home life and reimagine relationships between food, kitchens, race, and sex in the late twentieth century.

James Baldwin Review
Between “Stranger in the Village” and I Am Not Your Negro
Jovita dos Santos Pinto
,
Noémi Michel
,
Patricia Purtschert
,
Paola Bacchetta
, and
Vanessa Naef

James Baldwin’s writing, his persona, as well as his public speeches, interviews, and discussions are undergoing a renewed reception in the arts, in queer and critical race studies, and in queer of color movements. Directed by Raoul Peck, the film I Am Not Your Negro decisively contributed to the rekindled circulation of Baldwin across the Atlantic. Since 2017, screenings and commentaries on the highly acclaimed film have prompted discussions about the persistent yet variously racialized temporospatial formations of Europe and the U.S. Stemming from a roundtable that followed a screening in Zurich in February 2018, this collective essay wanders between the audio-visual and textual matter of the film and Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in the Village,” which was also adapted into a film-essay directed by Pierre Koralnik, staging Baldwin in the Swiss village of Leukerbad. Privileging Black feminist, postcolonial, and queer of color perspectives, we identify three sites of Baldwin’s transatlantic reverberations: situated knowledge, controlling images, and everyday sexual racism. In conclusion, we reflect on the implications of racialized, sexualized politics for today’s Black feminist, queer, and trans of color movements located in continental Europe—especially in Switzerland and France.

James Baldwin Review