[Mendele] Mendele Personal Notices & Announcements--New book by Marc Caplan

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Tue Sep 13 20:22:27 EDT 2011

Mendele Personal Notices & Announcements

September 13, 2011

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Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2011 00:20:54 -0400
From: Andrew M Caplan <amc2201 at nyu.edu>
Subject: New book publication, September 2011

Marc Caplan: How Strange the Change: Language, Temporality, and Narrative 
Form in Peripheral Modernisms

In this book, Marc Caplan argues that the literatures of ostensibly 
marginal modern cultures are key to understanding modernism. Caplan 
undertakes an unprecedented comparison of nineteenth-century Yiddish 
literature and twentieth-century Anglophone and Francophone African 
literature and reveals unexpected similarities between them. These 
literatures were created under imperial regimes that brought with them 
processes of modernization that were already well advanced elsewhere. 
Yiddish and African writers reacted to the liberating potential of 
modernity and the burdens of imperial authority by choosing similar 
narrative genres, typically reminiscent of early-modern European 
literatures: the picaresque, the pseudo-autobiography, satire, and the 
Bildungsroman. Both display analogous anxieties toward language, caught as 
they were between imperial, "global" languages and stigmatized native 
vernaculars, and between traditions of writing and orality. Through 
comparative readings of narratives by Reb Nakhman of Breslov, Amos 
Tutuola, Yisroel Aksenfeld, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Isaac Meyer Dik, Camara 
Laye, Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Wole Soyinka, Y. Y. Linetski, and Ahmadou 
Karouma, Caplan demonstrates that these literatures' "belated" 
relationship to modernization suggests their potential to anticipate 
subsequent crises in the modernity and post-modernity of metropolitan 
cultures. This, in turn, leads him to propose a new theoretical model, 
peripheral modernism, which incorporates both a new understanding of 
"periphery" and "center" in modernity and a new methodology for 
comparative literary criticism and theory.literary criticism and theory.

Marc Caplan is the Zelda and Myer Tandetnik Professor of Yiddish 
Literature, Language, and Culture in the Department of German and Romance 
Languages of the Johns Hopkins University.

For further information and ordering details please consult the Stanford 
University Press website or Google.Books

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