The University Record, February 18, 1997

HOT OFF THE PRESS

Editor's Note: Hot off the Press features books published recently by the U-M Press.

 

A Visit to the Gallery, edited and with an introduction by Richard Tillinghast, professor of English, Department of English Language and Literature.

Thirty poets and fiction writers were recently invited to visit the Museum of Art on the occasion of its 50th anniversary to pick a work of art that appealed to them, and then to write a poem or prose piece in response. A Visit to the Gallery, where the written works are printed side-by-side with full color reproductions of the works of art, is the result of these encounters between the visual and literary arts.

A Visit to the Gallery takes its place in the long tradition of poets writing about painting. In the 20th century this tradition includes such well-known poems as "Musee des Beaux Arts" by W. H. Auden and "Why I Am Not A Painter" by Frank O'Hara, who was a curator at the Museum of Modern Art.

Award-winning poet Richard Tillinghast edited and wrote and introduction for the book. Included in the collection are some of Michigan's best known writers, including Diane Wakoski, Thomas Lynch, Charles Baxter, Conrad Hilberry, and MacArthur fellows Alice Fulton and Thylias Moss. Molly Peacock from New York, Robert Pinsky from Boston, and Mary O'Malley from Ireland also contributed to the project.

A Visit to the Gallery is published by the Museum of Art and distributed by the U-M Press.

 

Nineteenth-Century English, by Richard W. Bailey, professor of English, Department of English Language and Literature.

Jane Austen's English is far different from Virginia Woolf's, but historians of the English language have given scant attention to the ways in which English changed over the course of the 19th century. Nineteenth-century histories of English typically saw the distant past of the language very clearly while they were blind to its effects on contemporary usage. In Nineteenth-Century English, Bailey treads new ground by showing the extent to which the language has changed as cultural and economic transformations brought us into the modern world.

Six aspects of 19th-century English are treated in separate chapters: writing, sounds, words, slang, grammar and "voices." In each domain, innovation and obsolescence are discussed as they were observed by contemporary writers. Thus Bailey shows how linguistic details gained powerful social meaning in the emergent stratification by class, region, race and gender of the anglophone community. An abundance of quotations provides insight into the way English was used. Illustrations and drawings from 19th-century sources show how English looked and how people envisioned themselves using the language.

Nineteenth-Century English will be of interest to historians of English language and literature and scholars in cultural studies, anthropology and linguistics, as well as the general reader.

 

The Movies, edited by Laurence Goldstein, professor of English language and literature, and Ira Konigsberg, professor of English language and literature and of film and video studies.

The medium of film has entertained audiences for more than 100 years. It has also intrigued scholars. What qualities give a film the complexity and resonance of high art? What effects do films produce in spectators and in society? How is our appreciation of a film dependent on such different elements as the screen, the stars, the zeitgeist, and even the petty business deals in Hollywood studios? Goldstein and Konigsberg's collection, The Movies, seeks to answer these questions by bringing together writing and visual art that describe the history, aesthetics and technology of motion pictures in deep-focus detail.

 

Dickinson and Audience, edited by Martin Orzeck and Robert Weisbuch, professor of English language and literature.

An obsessively private writer, Emily Dickinson almost never submitted poems for publication, which she deemed "the Auction/Of the Mind." Yet over a century of criticism has established what readers of various sensibilities describe as a shockingly intimate relation between text and audience, making the question of whom the poems address a crucial element in interpreting them. This volume of essays is the first book exclusively focused on Dickinson's relation to audience---from the relatively few persons who received many of the poems to that vast, unseen, yet somehow specific "other" that any literary work addresses.

This collection boasts a wide variety of critical approaches to the poet and her works---from traditional biographical and historical analyses to deconstructionist, feminist and reader-response interpretations. It will interest not only scholars in these areas, but also anyone who wants to gain insight into Dickinson's creative genius.