American History Cofer Essay

American History Cofer Essay-69
The historical crossing that creates the conceptual gap is recrossed by the individuated/socialized ‘I’ created in that process (Blasing 10).

The historical crossing that creates the conceptual gap is recrossed by the individuated/socialized ‘I’ created in that process (Blasing 10).

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Morris in this chapter offers interesting observations about the employment of the lyric trope, through a focus on a poem that “interrogates the lyric as a monologic vocalization of the embodied self” (106).

In a poem that “foregrounds the generic crisis of the status of the lyric voice” (131), the lyrical impulse, Morris seems to suggest, is at the origin of Bidart’s misrepresentation of rather mishearing, as it were, of West’s own lyric voice.

Morris suggests that Williams “Queering Time: Allen Ginsberg, ‘America’ and the Cold War,” the author argues that it is “Ginsberg’s conservatism” that “authorizes…a ‘queer’ form of lyric dialogue” (10-11).

Ginsberg’s “lyric encounter” with mainstream America and with the history of radicalism is, Morris suggests, put in the service of a cultural criticism that is at the same time undercut by an ironic attitude.

Overall, Morris’s book offers contextualised, attentive readings of individual poems where formal analysis combines with critical analysis of how context and cultural content are lyrically mediated.

The author offers compelling readings that inflect varieties of lyricism, without however spelling out more substantially distinct tonalities: in the Williams chapter for instance, lyricism is less a trope of composition than, as the author implies, a form of relatedness.The chapters that deal with “queer” dialogues do not engage with theorisations of “queerness” which might have led to a more sustained discussion of a “queer” lyricism.These observations aside, throughout this study, attentiveness to the poetic text is admirably combined with contextualisation in wider cultural discourses.The seventh chapter “Frank Bidart’s Voice and the Erasure of Jewish Difference in ‘Ellen West’” approaches a similar theme: Morris approaches Bidart’s poem as the ‘lyric monologue’ that is missing from the case study on which the poem is based.Morris convincingly argues that the lyrical reconstruction of West’s voice leads Bidart to an ‘irresponsible’ treatment of the source text: “instead of focusing on the anti-Semitic discourse that animates West’s body hatred, Bidart reads West’s devaluation of the body and her wish for its erasure as in line with German idealism and an aesthetic sublime” (101).Morris sets the two poems in dialogue and discusses how Lazarus and Cofer reimagine the space of the encounter between the exiled and the host culture.Morris in this chapter, examines how national belonging and ethnic identity can be lyrically inflected.In nine studies of individual poems that are implicitly or explicitly dialogical, Daniel Morris sets out to read lyricism as an interpersonal, communicative trope beyond what critics have established as the fundamentally “monological nature” of lyric poetry (1).Citing Helen Vendler as a case in point, Morris argues that critics who read lyricism as a trope of expression of private feelings posit a condition of empathy and/or implied identity between the writer and the reader that, Daniel Morris contends, interpretation of the relationship between self and other” (1).Ultimately, Morris’s studies are geared towards probing a distinction that, as he argues, is both sustained and transcended in works that employ the trope of lyricism: each individual chapter methodically examines the tension between lyricism as the form of expression of emotions and inner thoughts, and narrative as the vehicle of collective histories, memories and shared experiences.Morris’s study approaches individual emotions that can be shared alongside cultural representations and shared histories that are entwined with private experiences and lives. It is the site of a choice, an ethical ‘meta-phoring’ of the material language into meaning.


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