The Case for the English Dolnik; or, How Not to Introduce Prosody
In the teaching and criticism of poetry, this essay argues, the dominant prosodic tradition, based on classical metrics, provides no way of analyzing and appreciating one of the longest-lasting and most effective verse forms in the English tradition. But using the beat prosody developed in the author’s earlier work makes it possible to capture the distinctiveness of this form that, borrowing a term from Russian prosody, may be called the dolnik. To demonstrate the failure of the traditional approach in dealing with dolnik verse, the essay titled "Versification" in the Norton Anthology of Poetry is tested against a number of poems in the anthology, and the treatment of dolnik verse in a number of poetry handbooks is considered. Finally, Langston Hughes’s "Song for a Dark Girl" is discussed as an example of how dolnik verse might be taught.
The Polysemy of Looking: Reading Ekphrasis alongside Images in Calvino's Castle of Crossed Destinies and Vargas Llosa's In Praise of the Stepmother
Ekphrastic texts are usually published separately from the visual representations they re-represent. The relation between the text and the image is one of substitution: the text replaces the image. But when an ekphrastic response and the image that inspires it are placed next to each other, the result is not redundancy. Rather, the juxtaposition draws attention to the polysemy of the image and to what I call the polysemy of looking. Ekphrasis that narrativizes, moreover, necessarily adds information to what is depicted, whereas ekphrasis that describes may add information but need not. If, as I assume, narrativizing is a typical cognitive response to scenes in our world as well as to represented scenes, an analysis of the additions in ekphrasis that narrativizes can help to explain why interpretations of events in our world can differ as much as they do. I draw examples from two novels that juxtapose images and ekphrastic responses, one in which individual images are narrativized (Vargas Llosa) and one in which sequences of images are narrativized (Calvino).
Narrative Humor (II): Exit Perspective
This is part II of a two-part essay on narrative humor. Part I appeared in Poetics Today 31:4; it explained Wright’s (2005) idea that both humor and narrative require audiences/readers to switch between "intentional perspectives," that is, between the cognitive-emotive states of mind of agents (participants). Second, it distinguished between humor and narrative: while narrative contains minimally two layers of intentionality (oriented to the action and its presentation), humor can but need not involve those two layers; inversely, while humor always requires subjects to perceive incongruity and feel superiority, narrative is not defined by incongruity and superiority, although it can produce them. Third, part I went on to redefine the composite concept "narrative humor," describing it as the production and/or exploitation of incongruity and superiority relations among the participants (agents, intentional perspectives) of narrative texts: author, narrator, reader/spectator, character. Fourth, it analyzed some types of narrative humor, mainly "metanarrative humor," "comic narrative suspense," and "comic narrative surprise." Part II surveys and compares other approaches to humor in/and narrative. In the philosophical and psychoanalytic study The Odd One In (2008), Zupancic suggests that comedies involving unhappiness deserve more attention than they have received. The idea
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