P       RNCU   REPO   ODER       E            P O S T M O D E R N
P  TMOD RNCU  U EP S  ODER  ULTU E               C U L T U R E
P  TMODERNCU  UREPOS  ODER  ULTU E          an electronic journal
P  TMODERNCU  UREPOS  ODER       E           of interdisciplinary
Volume 11, Number 3 (May, 2001)                   ISSN: 1053-1920

Editors:                            Lisa Brawley
                                    James F. English

Editors Emeritus:                   Eyal Amiran
                                    Stuart Moulthrop
                                    John Unsworth

Review Editor:                      Paula Geyh

Managing Editor:                    Bill Albertini 

Research Assistants:                Elizabeth Bridgham
                                    Brian Glavey
				    Jordan Taylor

Editorial Board:                                           

     Michael Berube 		     Larysa Mykyta 
     Nahum Chandler 		     Chimalum Nwankwo
     Heesok Chang 		     Patrick O'Donnell
     J. Yellowlees Douglas 	     Elaine Orr
     Johanna Drucker 		     Bob Perelman
     Diane Gromala 		     Marjorie Perloff
     Graham Hammill 		     Fred Pfeil
     David Herman 		     Peggy Phelan
     Terry Harpold 		     David Porush
     Marcia Ian                      Mark Poster
     Michael Joyce 		     Judith Roof
     E. Ann Kaplan 		     Susan Schultz
     Matt Kirschenbaum 		     William Spanos
     Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett   Katie Stewart
     Neil Larsen                     Allucquere Roseanne Stone	
     Tan Lin 			     Gary Lee Stonum
     Saree Makdisi 		     Rei Terada
     Brian Massumi		     Darren Tofts
     Jerome McGann 		     Paul Trembath
     Adrian Miles 		     Greg Ulmer
     Jim Morrison 

    Sara L. Knox, "The Productive Power of Confessions of Cruelty" 
    Hanjo Berressem, "Serres Reads Pynchon / Pynchon Reads Serres"
    David Herman, "Sciences of the Text" 
    Lee Spinks, "Genesis and Structure and the Object of 
    Mark Mossman, "Acts of Becoming: Autobiography, Frankenstein, and
    the Postmodern Body"
                           Review Essay
    Joel Nickels, "Post-Avant-Gardism: Bob Perelman and the Dialectic
    of Futural Memory." A review of Bob Perelman, _The Future of 
    Memory_. New York: Roof Books, 1998. 
    Brian Finney, "Will Self's Transgressive Fictions." A review of 
    Will Self, _Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys_. London:
    Bloomsbury, 1998. 
    Robert S. Oventile, "Paul de Man, Now More than Ever?" A review
    of Tom Cohen, et al., eds., _Material Events: Paul de Man and the 
    Afterlife of Theory_. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2001. 
    Rebecca Rauve, "The Novel: Awash in Media Flows." A review of 
    John Johnston, _Information Multiplicity: American Fiction in the
    Age of Media Saturation_. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1998. 
    Lasse Thomassen, "The Politics of Lack." A review of Slavoj
    Zizek, _The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political 
    Ontology_.  London: Verso, 1999. 
                              Related Readings
     			 [WWW Version Only]
                              Bibliography of
                            and Critical Theory
     			 [WWW Version Only]
     			 [WWW Version Only]
                            Notes on Contributors
    Sara L. Knox, "The Productive Power of Confessions of Cruelty" 
        o Abstract: At a time when the law considers "that a 
          compelling claim of innocence is [not] alone grounds for 
          federal intervention,"  what mighthave been the extra-legal
          foundation for the commutation of serial killer Henry Lee 
          Lucas's death sentence? Lucas's florid claims to serial 
          killing continue to perform an ideological and 
          institutional function. His generic narrative of serial 
          murder literally and symbolically supports a law-and-order 
          discourse that translates private into public danger and 
          attempts to "fix"  dangerousness and vulnerability in 
          certain classes of persons. Lucas's tales of cruelty and 
          excessive violence are read here against Karla Faye 
          Tucker's damning early confession of sadism and her 
          attempted redemption through religious "witness." Although 
          Tucker inspired more widespread cries for clemency than 
          Lucas, her early boast to "thrill-killing" marked her out 
          (like Lucas) as a rare form of "monster"--in her case, the
          antithesis of respectable femininity and a possible 
          predictor of a new variety of feminine violence. A 
          comparison of Tucker and Lucas's confessions demonstrates 
          the power of narratives of violence to reinscribe and 
          re-gender the limits of the public and the private, and to 
          underwrite a powerfully punitive law-and-order 
    Hanjo Berressem, "Serres Reads Pynchon / Pynchon Reads Serres"
        o Abstract: This article aligns Michel Serres's book Genesis
           and Thomas Pynchon's novel Mason & Dixon. Rather than 
           noting their resonances within a single text, the article 
           provides two separate readings--one of Serres and one of 
           Pynchon--that are structured in a parallel fashion, so 
           that each passage of the Serres text can be read as a 
           commentary on the Pynchon text and vice versa. The single 
           passages of the respective texts are connected by 
           hypertextual links to allow switching from one text to the
           other [WWW Version Only]. Ultimately, each text is meant 
           to function as a commentary--or a series of extended 
           footnotes--on the other, although each text can also be 
           read as a text in and of itself. Main fields around which 
           the resonances between the two texts develop are chaos--or
           better, complexity--theory (in particular as it concerns 
           "multiplicity," "complexity," and the theory of 
           "fluxions"), trauma theory (especially as it concerns the 
           "cutting up" of both nature and culture with the scalpel 
           of rationality), and topology (in particular concepts of 
           unilaterality). In describing beginnings--in the case of 
           Serres that of the world, in the case of Pynchon that of 
           America--both texts reconstruct these as "sites of 
           multiplicity." From within different textual genres, both
           texts advocate a point-of-view that cherishes difference 
           and ambiguity over similarity and clarity. Ultimately, 
           both texts provide powerful rhetorics against "straight 
           lines" and against power structures and structures of 
           knowledge that are based on "linear" models.--hb
    David Herman, "Sciences of the Text" 
        o Abstract: This essay conducts a genealogical investigation 
          of the notion "science of the text" in the writings of 
          Roland Barthes. The author draws on recent developments in 
          linguistics--more specifically, the subfield of discourse 
          analysis--to argue that Barthes prematurely abandoned the 
          pursuit of textual science as regulative ideal. The essay 
          disputes the orthodox view that structuralist literary 
          theorists such as Barthes were engaged in a doomed attempt
          to scientize (the study of) literary art; instead, it 
          argues that Barthes and his fellow-travelers made an 
          important effort to redraw the map that had, in the years 
          preceding the rise of structuralism, fixed the positions of
          humanistic and scientific inquiry in cognitive and cultural 
          space.  Through an illustrative examination of a scene from
          Virginia Woolf's _To the Lighthouse_, the essay suggests 
          that structuralist approaches to textual analysis were 
          problematic not because they aspired to the status of 
          science, but because they mistook what any such science 
          would have to look like.--dh
    Lee Spinks, "Genesis and Structure and the Object of 
        o Abstract: This essay focuses on the incoherence of one of 
          the most influential descriptions of "postmodern" culture 
          in order to rethink the epistemological origins of several 
          contemporary intellectual formations. Why does Lyotard 
          distinguish, in _The Postmodern Condition_, between "the 
          postmodern" and postmodernism, and how can we reconcile his 
          genetic account of the origins of postmodernism as the 
          historical effect of a shift in the status of knowledge 
          with his structural account of the postmodern as the future 
          anterior of the modern? The essay argues that we should 
          accept the obliquity of Lyotard's account as symptomatic of
          the difficulty of thinking through a set of concepts--the 
          postmodern, modernity, and postmodernism--that are both 
          produced and brought to crisis by their radicalization of 
          the relationship between the historical "event" and the 
          discursive structures within which "history"  is 
          represented to us as an object of knowledge. The 
          "postmodern" should be understood in this sense as the 
          force of difference or historicity that constitutes and 
          exceeds every determinate structure. The essay employs this 
          insight to rethink the time of (post)modernity by 
          relocating the problem of genesis and structure within 
          three major epistemological movements: the structure of 
          Enlightenment critique advanced in the seventeenth and 
          eighteenth centuries; the emergence of historical and 
          philosophical "postmodernism" in the work of Dilthey and 
          Nietzsche; and the contemporary disciplinary formations of 
          post-structuralism and post-colonialism.--ls
    Mark Mossman, "Acts of Becoming: Autobiography, Frankenstein, and
    the Postmodern Body"
        o Abstract: This essay explores how disability is configured 
          in cultural practice.  The first section of the essay 
          consists of the author's own personal experience with 
          disability. This experience constitutes an example of 
          autobiography by disabled persons. Personal narratives 
          written by persons with disabilities are often acts of 
          self-volition; these narratives resist negative cultural 
          stereotype and instead allow for the individual to 
          "re-become" an "able"  person. The next stage of the essay 
          departs from this personal autobiography by focusing on a 
          work that is about disfigurement and resulting disability, 
          Mary Shelley's _Frankenstein_. After evaluating recent 
          critical work on the novel, the author links these readings
          with the larger thesis of his essay. In this context, the 
          creature "becomes" a monster. It tries to resist this tag 
          through a long personal narrative located at the heart of 
          the book. This narrative fails: its subject is unable to 
          understand itself through any term other than "monstrous"; 
          it is trapped within the identity given to it by its 
          creator, who names it "hideous."  This last point seems to
          undermine the larger position of the paper. The third 
          section of the essay, therefore, attempts to explain the 
          contradiction in the argument. The solution to this problem
          is the way bodies are being configured in postmodernity. 
          The postmodern body is a utopian site, a space for 
          self-definition and freedom. Examples used here are the 
          transplanted body of professional basketball player Sean 
          Elliott and the emerging technologies that allow once 
          extremely disabled individuals, like the author, to become
          volitional persons.--mm
Copyright (c) 2001 Postmodern Culture & Johns Hopkins University

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Last Modified: Monday, 05-Nov-2001 16:40:44 EDT