Rocky Mountain E-Review 
of Language and Literature

Volume 63, Number 2
FALL 2009


Reading Angeles Mastretta's Arráncame la vida 
Through the Lens of Mexico's Golden Age of Cinema

Cynthia Duncan 
University of Washington Tacoma

Angeles Mastretta's 1985 novel, Arráncame la vida [Tear This Heart Out] is important in terms of how it reconfigures Mexican national identity for women in the postrevolutionary era (1930s-'40s). The novel plays against the filmic traditions of Mexico's Golden Age of Cinema, deconstructing stereotypes and undermining the power of male discourse to shape feminine identity. Although some critics have dismissed Mastretta's work as "light literature," it successfully plots a space for women to insert themselves into nationalist narratives without glorifying the ideology of machismo.

Derrida on Kafka's "Before the Law"

Raphael Foshay 
Athabasca University

In "Tradition and the Individual Talent," T.S. Eliot gives a classic delineation of that central New Critical doctrine of the sovereignty of the text. Though deconstruction is ordinarily understood to be in direct opposition to such textual formalism, a close reading of Derrida's essay on Kafka's "Before the Law" reveals a subtle correspondence between a preoccupation with aesthetic form and a deconstructive response to it. While Derrida is impressed by the degree of reflexivity inherent in Kafka's parable, I argue that the parable itself thematizes a degree of self-awareness that can be argued to outdistance the reverse formalism of Derrida's reading.

Serial Killers, Literary Critics, and Süskind's Das Parfum

Damon O. Rarick 
University of Rhode Island

Das Parfum provides a beguiling foil for several forays into problems of genre, intertextuality, historiography, and narrativization, yet elicits a surprisingly limited number of responses to the commensurability of art and murder and the displaced logic of representing murder as art. This article examines the various critical responses in an attempt to make sense of why such a troubling and troubled novel became such a popular and critical phenomenon and to begin to locate and explore the ways in which murder, art, and public spectacle serve a societal function that the modern imagination both relies upon and turns from.

Davis Award Winners

Image-Texts in The Woman in White

Darcy Irvin 
University of California at Davis

The serial publication of The Woman in White (1859-1860) did not include the type of illustrations we associate with the major mid-Victorian novels. Collins' novel adhered to the text-only format of Dickens' family magazine All the Year Round. Collins did, however, experiment with the text typographically; he included stylized, pseudo-facsimile copies of Laura Fairlie's death certificate and tombstone inscription that function both as images and texts. These reproductions provide evidence beyond what the written word is capable of producing -- it is the representation of the copies, as much as the content, that will persuade the legal court and the reader of their legitimacy. The novel treats these "narratives" as images, rather than transcriptions, the inclusion of which affected the Victorian conception of the image-text and produced readers that actively engaged in narrative construction.

Innocence and the Child of Sex Tourism in Filipino/American Literature and Culture

Gladys Nubla 
University of California, Berkeley

Examination of the trope of childhood "innocence" in Maria Rosa Henson's memoir, Comfort Woman (1999), and Han Ong's novel, The Disinherited (2004), reveals and interrogates the simultaneous infantilization and sexualization of Filipinas/os that enable the sex tourism industry in the Philippines. Henson and Ong, as representatives of Filipina/o human rights and diasporic literary movements, respectively, deploy the trope of childhood innocence in largely dissimilar ways: the rhetorical power of Henson's text revolves around stolen sexual innocence and sexual violation, whereas Ong's text features the tension between pre-modern (sexual) innocence and precocious worldly knowledge. A non-postcolonial perspective comes in the form of the blog posts of a retired white American man living in the Philippines with his much younger Filipina girlfriend. Ironically, his depictions of an ideal childlike innocence and some Filipinas' betrayal of his ideal resemble those depictions found in Henson and Ong's texts.


In Support of a Visual Approach for Teaching My Ántonia

Cynthia Cavanaugh 
Kean University

The visual approach involves using illustrations, photographs, videos, Internet sites, and other media to capture the interest and the intellectual attention of university students who are accustomed to a multimedia world of stimulation. I explain this visual approach using my experience of teaching Willa Cather's novel My Ántonia to a general education, world literature class. Visuals that supplement discussions or visuals that supplement presentations concerning the characters, the historical time period, or the setting of the novel draw many students toward a deeper understanding of the attitudes and actions of the characters within the culture represented by the literary text.


Romanticism, Literature and Philosophy: Expressive Rationality in Rousseau, Kant, Wollstonecraft and Contemporary Theory, by Simon Swift 
Reviewer: David Tagnani

Romantic Readers: The Evidence of Marginalia, by H.J. Jackson 
Reviewer: John Schwiebert

The Notebooks of Joseph Joubert: A Selection, ed. Paul Auster 
Reviewer: John Schwiebert

The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture, by Lauren Berlant 
Reviewer: Heather D.S. Anderson

Death Becomes Her: Cultural Narratives of Femininity and Death in Nineteenth-Century America, ed. Elizabeth Dill and Sheri Weinstein 
Reviewer: Erin Clair

The Fin de Siècle Poem: English Literary Culture in the 1890s, ed. Joseph Bristow 
Reviewer: Anthony Flinn

The Return of Christian Humanism: Chesterton, Eliot, Tolkien, and the Romance of History, by Lee Oser 
Reviewer: Alan Blackstock

Theorists of Modernist Poetry: T.S. Eliot, T.E. Hulme, Ezra Pound, by Rebecca Beasley 
Reviewer: Craig Monk

Worldly Acts and Sentient Things: The Persistence of Agency from Stein to DeLillo, by Robert Chodat 
Reviewer: Geoffrey A. Wright

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, by Brad Gooch 
Reviewer: Marshall Bruce Gentry

Approaches to Teaching Grass's The Tin Drum, ed. Monika Shafi 
Reviewer: Daniel C. Villanueva

Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles, ed. Thomas Glave 
Reviewer: Débora Maldonado-DeOliveira

Jameson on Jameson: Conversations on Cultural Marxism, ed. Ian Buchanan 
Reviewer: Daniel Gustav Anderson

Postcolonial Theory and Autobiography, by David Huddart 
Reviewer: Ana Isabel Carballal

Mano en vuelo, by Alicia Kozameh 
Reviewer: Janis Breckenridge

The Last Word - The English Language: Opinions and Prejudices, by Laurence Urdang 
Reviewer: Felice Coles