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Volume 69, Issue 4, Fall 2017

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Displaying: 1-5 of 5 documents

1. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 4
Annette Oxindine Resisting Dissolution: The Salvific Turn in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day
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While many recent readings of The Heat of the Day (1948) address Bowen’s indeterminate and unsettling prose style as a mirror or even an enactment of the destructive, nullifying forces at work in Blitz-weary London, this article posits that those same stylistic elements as well as the novel’s depictions of unstable subjectivities work against nullity to create complexly rendered regenerations, including two surreally conceived pregnancies. This article also suggests that the tensions often noted in Bowen’s negotiations between fictional realism and what critics have classified as the hallucinatory or surreal can be better understood by exploring Bowen’s spiritual beliefs, which she elucidates in numerous nonfiction pieces. The provocative liminality of the material and the spiritual in The Heat of the Day offers a compelling critical space from which to further explore Bowen’s prolific hybrid creations and the ontological, epistemological, and metaphysical mysteries they engender.
2. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 4
Christina Bieber Lake “I Don’t Want to Play Anymore”: Galatea 2.2, the Science Wars, and the Soul of Literary Studies
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In the novel Galatea 2.2, Richard Powers’ protagonist—a fictional Richard Powers—succeeds in creating artificial life that would seem to be the epitome of the posthuman. As N. Katherine Hayles defines it, we became posthuman by our assent to the definition of life as consisting primarily in information patterns, not embodiment. Powers brings to life “Helen,” a machine made for a unique Turing test: to see if it could perform on a Master’s examination in English literature in a way indistinguishable from a typical graduate student. Through new developments in neuroscience, this paper argues that Powers reframes the posthuman and the so-called Science Wars by writing speculative fiction that neither condemns technology nor valorizes it. Instead, he argues that what we should fear is not the development of artificial intelligence, but the failure of people to exercise their capacities for ethical responsibility to others. By making a machine who is more sensitive to others and to our need for right action than the people around it are, Powers fights for the traditional goals of the liberal arts.
3. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 4
Emily R. Brower “If I were in a book”: Language and Sacrament in Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter
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In The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene’s metafictional commentary (indicated by the relentless presence of language and literature in the content of the novel) runs parallel to his commentary on the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist. Strikingly, written language, due to its own physical reality and the way in which it is treated in the novel, takes on sacramental characteristics. Both written language and the Eucharist are physical, and both make truth present. Through his use of physical texts to indicate the true nature of each character and by aligning the written word with the Eucharist, Greene offers a complex exploration of the sacramental possibilities of literature and language, ultimately contending that language itself is sacramental.
4. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 4
Brett Beasley Oscar Wilde’s Humility: A Reassessment of The Ballad of Reading Gaol
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While Oscar Wilde's plays and his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, enjoy great attention and popularity among scholars and the general public alike, his final work, the 654-line poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol, remains under-appreciated, particularly as far as critics are concerned. One critic, for example, has dismissed the poem as “a manipulative emotional diatribe” in which Wilde “draws a singleminded, heavy-handed, linear sentimentality into every stanza.” While I acknowledge the ways in which the poem's humility of style and subject matter are uncharacteristic for Wilde, I reject the notion that Reading Gaol is simple, either in aesthetic or moral terms. Focusing on the poem's images of "filth," I show that Wilde's swan song is in fact a work of great power and subtlety that demands that we rethink key assumptions about Wilde and about the literary imagination itself.
5. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 4
Notes on Contributors
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