Volume 43 Number 2

San Diego Bakhtin Circle (Ed.)

Bakhtin and the Nation

194 pages
ISBN 0838754473
Bucknell Review

The end of the twentieth century is marked by historic changes in the nation-states and in the concepts of the nation and of nationalism. The ten essays in this volume give to the reader an inquiry into the problem of the nation with, and sometimes surpassing, the help of Russian philosopher Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin. Why Bakhtin, who is best known as a theorist of communication, and as a reader of carnival in Rabelais and of speech genres in the novel? Bakhtin has produced a theory of language which moves beyond Russian formalism to a more materialist consideration of the stratification of speech. Bakhtin's concept of dialogism is a humanistic project that acknowledges the exchange of contestatory voices in a specific cultural or political space. Although Bakhtin has been challenged in his celebration of popular culture, he does give a reading of carnivalesque which perhaps criticizes dominant ideologies and which certainly questions the production of a single national identify. Scholarship may approach these questions of the nation through Bakhtin's own relationship to Russia, thus acknowledging Bakhtin's biography as a complement to his theoretical work. The ten essays in this issue of Bucknell Review extend a wide geographical reach: Russia and the United States; England; the Caribbean; the Philippines; Algeria; Scotland; Canada; and the Indian subcontinent. And the essays move in time from the era of Victorian nationalist epics and theorists of Russian empire in the late nineteenth century to recent issues of globalization and transnational capital. The essays employ and extend Bakhtinian key terms, notably dialogue/monologue, carnival, chronotype, epic, novel, superaddressee, and heteroglossia. Three of these studies concern the epic as a historical-national genre. One study, Peter Hitchcock's on gender and nation in Algeria, directly confronts women's issues and women's writing. The introduction by the San Diego Bakhtin Circle presents the case for studying the nation and Bakhtin together. Dale E. Peterson writes on double-voicing in Dostoevsky and James Weldon Johnson. Galin Tihanov discusses the Russian Eurasian movement in Nikolai Trubetzkoy and Petr Savitsky. Simon Dentith studies the language of Victorian epics. Colin Graham's subject is dialogue/monologue in English epics of empire. Mara Scanlon's focus is Derek Walcott's Caribbean epic, Omeros (1990). E. San Juan Jr. considers how Bakhtin's superaddressee can shed light on nation, with examples from Cuba and the Filipino-American War. Peter Hitchcock concentrates on the multivocal fiction in Algerian writer Assia Djebar. J. C. Bittenbender explores Skaz-writing in Scotish storyteller James Kelman. Anthony Wall writes on the chronotypes of Canadian nationhood. And Robert Bennett considers the transnational, with examples of Salman Rushdie. In addition to this range of geographies and terms and topics, Bakhtin and the Nation will give to the reader up-to-date references to new scholarship on both sides of the volume's title.

Contributors: Dale E. Peterson, Galin Tihanov, Simon Dentith, Colin Graham, Mara Scanlon, E. San Juan Jr., Peter Hitchcock, J. C. Bittenbender, Anthony Wall, and Robert Bennett.

About the editor:

The San Diego Bakhtin Circle includes Barry A. Brown, Christopher Conway, Rhett Gambol, Susan Kalter, Laura E. Ruberto, Tomas F. Taraborrelli, and Donald Wesling.


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