"The book not only confirms the high ethical stakes in informed contemporary reading; it offers a rare readerly pleasure in . . . exploring the wider cultural significance of gender and the body and their narrative representation." —Henry Sussman, SUNY-Buffalo
Gabriele Schwab revitalizes debates about literature's cultural function by exploring literary experience as an encounter with otherness. Drawing on literary theory, anthropology, and psychoanalysis, Schwab contends that literature facilitates contact with cultures that may seem foreign to us. At the same time, literature can render the familiar strange, and foreground what a culture tends to repress. At its best, literature challenges the very boundaries of the culture from which it emerges.
Schwab's readings of writers such as Hawthorne, Faulkner, Joyce, Lewis Carroll, Djuna Barnes, Marguerite Duras, and John Cage demonstrate the centrality of aesthetics and the literary to studies of otherness and cultural contact.
I. The Otherness of Poetic Language
1. Reading, Otherness, and Cultural Contact
II. Nonsense, Dream, and Chaos: The Otherness of Literary Language
2. Nonsense and Metacommunication: Reflections on Lewis Carroll
3. Joyce, Cage, and Chaos: Finnegan's Wake, Roaratoria, and French Feminism
III. Witches, Mothers, and Male Fantasies: The Otherness of Woman
4. Seduced by Witches: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter in the Context of New England Witchcraft Fictions
5. The Multiple Lives of Addie Bundren's Dead Body: On William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying
IV. Trauma, Transgression, and Transference: The Otherness of Gender
6. Traversing Spaces of Otherness: Djuna Barnes's Nightwood
7. "While She Lives She Invites Murder": On Marguerite Duras's The Malady of Death