Rocky Mountain E-Review 
of Language and Literature

Volume 55, Number 1
Spring 2001

From the Editors

Our profession as teachers and scholars of language and literature is in the midst of what many regard as a cataclysmic transition to a future that we can see but dimly. Most of our departments face changing, often decreasing, enrollments despite urgent demands for new courses; much of our research time is eaten up by various service-connected obstacles as well as retraining.

Some of our most important professional journals are participating in the debate that attempts to follow this transition. The January 2001 issue of PMLA, for example, highlights the "globalization" of literary studies (in several invited articles), as well as an alarming reduction in submitted articles to the journal (see, for example, Carlos J. Alonso, "Editor's Column: Lost Moorings -- PMLA and Its Audience"). The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a bombshell of an interview with the President of Drake University, who closed down the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and fired all its faculty, tenured or not. What ramifications may issues and events such as these have on other universities and their budget-weary administrators? We hope for "renewal" in the humanities, but seem to have to contend more with their systematic elimination.

We would like to hear how you interpret these pieces of news in our field, and/or what solutions you may suggest. We would welcome comments and discussion on these issues, and the Forum section of the Rocky Mountain Review is designated for just such dialogue on the current events or climate in our field of language and literature.


(Anti-)Semitism 1890s/1990s: Octave Mirbeau and E.M. Cioran

Aleksandra Gruzinska
Arizona State University

Mirbeau's voice thundered in Les Grimaces (1883-1884) against the Jewish segment of the French population. During the Dreyfus affair of the 1890s, he became nonetheless an ardent Dreyfusard who reversed his sympathies. To those who doubted his credibility as a journalist, Mirbeau responded with recantations or "Palinodies" (1898). A century later, E.M. Cioran's death in 1995 led French papers to reveal the nature of his writings of the 1930s. His "youthful extremism" did not augur well for the Jews, or his own glory. Having tasted exile, he became later in life an uncompromising skeptic. Exile taught Cioran to understand the Jews better. In "Un Peuple de solitaires" he replaced his youthful anti-Jewish stance with a penetrating essay on the Jewish nation. This article explores how two fin de siècle writers courageously tamed their anti-Semitism and reversed their sympathies in favor of the Jews.

Oedipus as Reader in Georges Rodenbach's La Vocation

Robert Ziegler
Montana Tech

Taking as its focus Georges Rodenbach's 1895 novel, La Vocation, this article examines both the Decadents' redefinition of relationships in the traditional Oedipal triangle and their resituation of the hero's role in enlightened male readers. Rodenbach's narrative may restage a familiar drama in which the child's parricidal fantasies are magically fulfilled, an absent father introjected as ego ideal becomes a god who punishes the son for coveting the mother, and religion instills the guilt incurred by violating the incest taboo. But while adopting the Oedipus story, Rodenbach shifts the focus away from the child's indulgence in forbidden desires and onto the mother's choreographing her son's enactment of impulses that chain him to the world and prevent him from escaping into religion. More importantly, Rodenbach's text constitutes its reader as the true hero whose lucidity enables him to gaze into the mirror of the novel and apprehend a truth to which the protagonist is blind.

La(s) representación(es) de la subjetividad femenina a través 
del palimpsesto en "La sunamita" y "Estío" de Inés Arredondo

María Alicia Garza
Boise State University

The late Mexican writer Inés Arredondo presents in "La sunamita," and "Estío" two examples of how the palimpsest can be used as a discursive strategy in order to subvert patriarchal texts such as Greek mythology and the Bible. In "La sunamita," the author reconstructs the story of King David's companion Abishag. In the biblical version, this woman is voiceless, whereas in Arredondo's revision, Luisa the protagonist criticizes the manner in which religion favors male domination over women. "Estío" is a transformed version of Euripides' tragedy Hippolytus. The misogynist element that is apparent in Euripides' play is absent in Arredondo's story since it is a female protagonist who controls the narration. The misguided Phedra is replaced by a woman character who avoids an incestuous relationship with her son at all costs. Although Arredondo has been quoted that she did not want to be considered a feminist writer, in these two stories she has provided two concrete examples of how a feminist subjectivity can used to subvert masculine discourse.

Brave New Girls: Female Archetypes, Border Crashing, and Utopia 
in Kate Braverman's Palm Latitudes

ShaunAnne Tangney
Minot State University

In Sexual Anarchy Elaine Showalter argues that there were several problematic female archetypes constructed by culture and in literature at the close of the nineteenth century. The archetypes, Showalter argues, were constructed in order to keep women "in their place," an action that the fear and uncertainty of a fin de siècle often produces. This article reads Kate Braverman's contemporary novel, Palm Latitudes, in terms of Showalter's archetypal constructions but argues that at the close of the twentieth century, Braverman is able to use archetypes to crash borders, rather than to maintain them. This notion of border crashing leads to an argument about utopia: that utopia is a place, both textual and geopolitical, that can be made by erasing rather than enforcing linguistic, cultural, gender, sexual, and textual borders. The discussion ends on a note of hope that in the national and cultural borderlands of the U.S. we might indeed make and inhabit that utopia.

The Uses of the Fantastic and the Deferment of Closure 
in American Literature on the Vietnam War

Steffen H. Hantke
Regis University

Increasingly, Vietnam writers must confront criticism about the historical relevance of their topic. In response, they problematize closure, continuously projecting it into a utopian future. Three fantastic texts -- Larry Heinemann's Paco's Story, Bruce McAllister's Dream Baby, and Lucius Shepard's "Shades" -- explore, dramatize, and reify this trope of perpetually deferred closure. Respectively, they challenge the common assertion that repeated articulation leads to therapeutic self-recognition. They enable the reader to perceive dominant narrative conventions as aesthetically rather than mimetically grounded and to recognize their implicit ideological agenda.


On the Crisis of Self-Definition in English Studies

Jeffrey Cain
Washington State University

The final decades of the twentieth century witnessed a profusion of books, journal articles, and conferences earnest and frequently dogmatic in their attempts to map, interpret, and define the ever untidy topography of English studies. Many such attempts imply that literary studies is in an uncharacteristic crisis of self-definition. Far from being uncharacteristic, the present crisis is typical of the nature of literary studies and reflects an ongoing concern over the value and purpose of literary education. Discord, contention, and crisis not only characterize the history of literary studies: when they are grounded in genuine academic freedom, they will ensure its viability. Complacency, rather than strife, is the bane of literary studies.


Life in Tudor Times, CD-ROM 
Reviewer: Mary L. Hjelm

Approaches to Teaching Shorter Elizabethan Poetry, ed. Patrick Cheney and Anne Lake Prescott 
Reviewer: Audrey Becker

Shakespeare on Love and Lust, by Maurice Charney 
Reviewer: Dowling G. Campbell

Misogynous Economies: The Business of Literature in Eighteenth-Century Britain, by Laura Mandell 
Reviewer: Marvin D.L. Lansverk

Romanticism at the End of History, by Jerome Christensen 
Reviewer: Kandi Tayebi

Hortense Allart: The Woman and the Novelist, by Helynne Hollstein Hansen 
Reviewer: Ruth B. Antosh

The Letters of George Henry Lewes, Vol. III, with New George Eliot Letters, ed. William Baker 
Reviewer: Carol A. Martin

Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities, CD-ROM 
Reviewer: Michael Kramp

A Historical Guide to Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Joel Myerson 
Reviewer: Cynthia A. Cavanaugh

Sentimental Collaborations: Mourning and Middle-Class Identity in Nineteenth-Century America, by Mary Louise Kete 
Reviewer: Elizabeth Dill

Publisher to the Decadents: Leonard Smithers in the Careers of Beardsley, Wilde, Dowson, by James G. Nelson 
Reviewer: Linda White

Staking Her Claim: The Life of Belinda Mulrooney, Klondike and Alaska Entrepreneur, by Melanie J. Mayer and Robert N. DeArmand 
Reviewer: Allene M. Parker

Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism, by Joan Acocella 
Reviewer: Paulette Scott

Birthing a Nation: Gender, Creativity, and the West in American Literature, by Susan J. Rosowski 
Reviewer: Laura Hamblin

West of the Border: The Multicultural Literature of the Western American Frontiers, by Noreen Groover Lape 
Reviewer: Peter L. Bayers

Coyote Kills John Wayne: Postmodernism and Contemporary Fictions of the Transcultural Frontier, by Carlton Smith 
Reviewer: Jennifer Lemberg

American Fiction, American Myth, by Philip Young 
Reviewer: Danielle A. Jones

Creatures of Darkness: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir, by Gene D. Phillips 
Reviewer: A. Mary Murphy

Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience, ed. Manning Marable 
Reviewer: Julie Barak

Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, by José Esteban Muñoz 
Reviewer: Curtis Wasson

Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit 
Reviewer: Susan M. Lucas

Critical Condition: Feminism at the Turn of the Century, by Susan Gubar 
Reviewer: Gwendolyn James