Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.59.13 PMAuthoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre

Political ideologies often informed early twentieth-century French novels, creating a hybrid genre that is both “realist” and didactic: the roman a thèse. In this ground-breaking and critically acclaimed work, Susan Suleiman looks beyond the politics of novels by such authors as Malraux, Mauriac, Sartre, and Aragon, and examines their shared formal and generic features. Although the genre itself is considered antimodern, the critical and interpretive problems it raises are central to an understanding of both realist and modernist writing. (Description from Get the Book


Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.59.41 PMSubversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Garde

In this important book, noted Harvard scholar Susan Suleiman explores the politics as well as the aesthetics of modern and postmodern writing and art, from Dada and Surrealism to the present. Through her detailed readings of works by avant-garde writers and artists like André Breton, Georges Bataille, Roland Barthes, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst, Suleiman demonstrates the central role of the female body in the male artistic imagination and the extent to which masculinist assumptions have shaped modern art and theory. She asks: What place do women artists and writers have in the avant-garde? Suleiman discusses works by Hélène Cixous, Marguerite Duras, Monique Wittig, Angela Carter, Jeanette Winterson, Leonora Carrington, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman and others, showing how feminist avant-garde art provides a powerful, often humorous or parodic critique of patriarchal ideologies. Central to Suleiman’s revisionary theory of the avant-garde is the figure of the playful, laughing mother. True to the radically irreverent spirit of the historical avant-gardes and their postmodernist successors, Suleiman’s laughing mother embodies one possible link between symbolic innovation and political and social change.(Description from Get the Book


Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 7.00.08 PMRisking Who One Is: Encounters with Contemporary Art and Literature

To write about your contemporaries, whose work is enmeshed in the stuff of your life, is risky business. But as Susan Suleiman demonstrates in this lively and personal book, that risk is what makes such a critical encounter worthwhile. “Risking Who One Is” shows how the process of self-recognition in the reading or viewing of contemporary work can lead to larger considerations about culture and society–to increased historical awareness and collective action. Through subtle and incisive readings of Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Gordon, Julia Kristeva, Richard Rorty, Helene Cixous, Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst, Angela Carter, Elie Wiesel, and others, Suleiman engages in a fascinating dialogue with those who have shared her place and time, and whose preoccupations meet her own. Through Suleiman’s encounter with them, these writers and artists enter an exchange with each other, and with us as readers. These encounters open new perspectives on motherhood and its conflicts, on creativity and love, on the intersections of history, memory, and autobiography, and on the politics and poetics of postmodernism. In “Risking Who One Is,” Suleiman offers us a new way of looking at issues that are both personal and historical, defining the life of our times.(Description from Get the Book


Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 7.00.34 PMBudapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook

Can you forget the place you once called home? What does it take to make you recapture it? In this moving memoir, Susan Rubin Suleiman describes her returns to the city of her birth—where she speaks the language like a native but with an accent. Suleiman left Budapest in 1949 as a young child with her parents, fleeing communism; thirty-five years later, she returned with her two sons from a brief vacation and began to remember her childhood. Her earliest memories, of Nazi persecution in the final year of World War II, came back to her in fragments, as did memories of her first school years after the war of the stormy marriage between her father, a brilliant Talmudic scholar, and her mother, a cosmopolitan woman from a more secular Jewish family.

In 1993, after the fall of communism and the death of her mother, Suleiman returned to Budapest for six-month stay. She recounts her ongoing quest for personal history, interweaving it with the stories of present-day Hungarians struggling to make sense of the changes in their individual and collective lives. Suleiman’s search for documents relating to her childhood, the lives of her parents and their families, and the Jewish communities of Hungary and Poland takes her on a series of fascinating journeys within and outside Budapest.

Emerging from this eloquent, often suspenseful diary is the portrait of an intellectual who recaptures her past and comes into contact with the vital, troubling world of contemporary Eastern Europe. Suleiman’s vivid descriptions of her encounters with a proud, old city and its people in a time of historical change remind us that every life story is at once unique and part of a larger history.(Description from Get the Book


Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 7.00.57 PMCrises of Memory and the Second World War

In this acclaimed book, renowned Harvard scholar Susan Rubin Suleiman discusses individual and collective memories of World War II, as reflected in literary memoirs, autobiographical novels, works of history and philosophy, and films. Suleiman argues that memories of World War II transcend national boundaries, due not only to the global nature of the war but also to the increasingly global presence of the Holocaust as a site of collective memory. Among the works she discusses are Jean-Paul Sartre’s essays on the Occupation and Resistance in France; Marcel Ophuls’s innovative documentary on the Nazi interrogator Klaus Barbie, who was tried for crimes against humanity in 1987; István Szabó’s film “Sunshine,” a chronicle of Jewish identity in central Europe; literary memoirs by Jorge Semprun and Elie Wiesel; and experimental writing by child survivors of the Holocaust, Georges Perec and Raymond Federman.(Description from Get the Book


Edited Volumes

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 1.43.28 PMThe Female Body in Western Culture: Contemporary Perspectives, editor and contributor SRS

The female body has occupied a central place in the Western imagination, its images pervading poetry and story, mythology and religious doctrine, the visual arts, and scientific treatises. It has inspired both attraction and fear, been perceived as beautiful and unclean, alluring and dangerous, a source of pleasure and nurturing but also a source of evil and destruction.

In The Female Body in Western Culture, twenty-three internationally noted scholars and critics, in specially commissioned essays, explore these representations and their consequences for contemporary art and culture. Ranging from Genesis to Gertrude Stein and Angela Carter, from ancient Greek ritual to the Victorian sleeping cure, from images of the Madonna to modern film and Surrealist art, the essays cover a wide spectrum of approaches and subject mailer. They all converge, however, around questions of power and powerlessness, voice and silence, subjecthood and objectification. And they point the way to the new possibilities and displacements of traditional male-female oppositions. Androgyny in a new key? This book demonstrates that a blurring of gender boundaries does not have to deny difference. (Description from  Get the Book


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Exile and Creativity: Signposts, Travelers, Outsiders, Backward Glances, editor and contributor SRS

A major historical phenomenon of our century, exile has been a focal point for reflections about individual and cultural identity and problems of nationalism, racism, and war. Whether emigrés, exiles, expatriates, refugees, or nomads, these people all experience a distance from their homes and often their native languages. Exile and Creativity brings together the widely varied perspectives of nineteen distinguished European and American scholars and cultural critics to ask: Is exile a falling away from a source of creativity associated with the wholeness of home and one’s own language, or is it a spur to creativity?
In essays that range chronologically from the Renaissance to the 1990s, geographically from the Danube to the Andes, and historically from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, the complexities and tensions of exile and the diversity of its experiences are examined. Recognizing exile as an interior experience as much as a physical displacement, this collection discusses such varied topics as intellectual exile and seventeenth-century French literature; different versions of home and of the novel in the writings of Bakhtin and Lukács; the displacement of James Joyce and Clarice Lispector; a young journalist’s meeting with James Baldwin in the south of France; Jean Renoir’s Hollywood years; and reflections by the descendents of European emigrés. Strikingly, many of the essays are themselves the work of exiles, bearing out once more the power of the personal voice in scholarship.
With the exception of the contribution by Henry Louis Gates Jr., these essays were originally published in a special double issue of Poetics Today in 1996. Exile and Creativity will engage a range of readers from those whose specific interests include the problems of displacement and diaspora and the European Holocaust to those whose broad interests include art, literary and cultural studies, history, film, and the nature of human creativity. (Description from Get the Book


Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 1.44.22 PMFrench Global: A New Approach to Literary History, co-editor SRS

Recasting French literary history in terms of the cultures and peoples that interacted within and outside of France’s national boundaries, this volume offers a new way of looking at the history of a national literature, along with a truly global and contemporary understanding of language, literature, and culture.

The relationship between France’s national territory and other regions of the world where French is spoken and written (most of them former colonies) has long been central to discussions of “Francophonie.” Boldly expanding such discussions to the whole range of French literature, the essays in this volume explore spaces, mobilities, and multiplicities from the Middle Ages to today. They rethink literary history not in terms of national boundaries, as traditional literary histories have done, but in terms of a global paradigm that emphasizes border crossings and encounters with “others.” Contributors offer new ways of reading canonical texts and considering other texts that are not part of the traditional canon. By emphasizing diverse conceptions of language, text, space, and nation, these essays establish a model approach that remains sensitive to the specificities of time and place and to the theoretical concerns informing the study of national literatures in the twenty-first century. Get the Book