Communicational Criticism: Studies in literature as dialogue - Dialogue Studies 11 (Hardback)
  • Communicational Criticism: Studies in literature as dialogue - Dialogue Studies 11 (Hardback)
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Communicational Criticism: Studies in literature as dialogue - Dialogue Studies 11 (Hardback)

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£83.00
Hardback 404 Pages
Published: 17/08/2011
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Further developing the line of argument put forward in his Literature as Communication (2000) and Mediating Criticism (2001), Roger D. Sell now suggests that when so-called literary texts stand the test of time and appeal to a large and heterogeneous circle of admirers, this is because they are genuinely dialogical in spirit. Their writers, rather than telling other people what to do or think or feel, invite them to compare notes, and about topics which take on different nuances as seen from different points of view. So while such texts obviously reflect the taste and values of their widely various provenances, they also channel a certain respect for the human other to whom they are addressed. So much so, that they win a reciprocal respect from members of their audience. In Sell’s new book, this ethical interplay becomes the focus of a post-postmodern critique, which sees literary dialogicality as a possible catalyst to new, non-hegemonic kinds of globalization. The argument is illustrated with major reassessments of Shakespeare, Pope, Wordsworth, Dickens, Churchill, Orwell, and Pinter, and there are also studies of trauma literature for children, and of ethically oriented criticism itself.

Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Co
ISBN: 9789027210289
Number of pages: 404
Weight: 880 g
Dimensions: 245 x 164 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

This book is both fairminded and insightful, able to move through broad fields of knowledge without any loss of clarity and generous in argument. Roger Sell's analyses of theoretical and literary works are illuminating because he is committed to understanding the complex experience of dialogue between reader and text. - Gillian Beer,University of Cambridge

In combination with the fascinating and the, at present, by no means fully explored linkages between Sell’s approach to literature and contemporary communication and media theory, his humane readings are doing much to help literary culture make the transition into the new, and also as yet largely unknown, communicative disposition of our globalising world, where that culture, with all of its history, has such an important role to play. - Johan Siebers, University of Central Lancashire, in Language and Dialogue, Vol. 2:2 (2012)

Roger Sell’s book, both timely and sympathetic, seeks to rescue literature from the theoretical depredations of post-modernity and to re-awaken our sense of its capacity to make human contact. He offers, among many other things, a fine study of Wordsworth’s poetry of ‘friendly communion’ and the powerful social vision that animates it, in which community is no less meaningful because it embraces diverse points of view. It is a rich and stimulating study. - Seamus Perry, University of Oxford

This study is remarkable for its range alone, as Sell applies his critical theoretical approach to Shakespeare, Pope, Wordsworth, Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Winston Churchill, Orwell, Lynne Reid Banks, and Harold Pinter. The list, drawn from the accustomed English literary canon with perhaps a couple of surprises, reflects tenets central to communicational criticism, defined in contra-distinction to the 'communication criticism' of Rybacki and others: it attends to texts that readers have found pleasurable and lastingly valuable. These properties are, according to Sell, what constitute the potentiality for a text’s “communicational genuineness” and vicariously account for its widespread durability. Communicational criticism develops then a post-postmodern approach allied to literary appreciation but based fundamentally on the dialogic relationship between writers and readers and their ethical articulations. The critical goal lies in ameliorating that relationship through acts of mediation. Roger Sell has published widely in this critical area already and brings together in this magisterial study both a clear justification of his approach and an impressive array of instances of its application. - Pamela M. King, University of Bristol

Roger Sell's new book continues his remarkable series of explorations into the nature of 'literature as communication', an enquiry into the general principles of humanist dialogue which, like all the best theoretical thinking, is rooted in a deep knowledge of particular texts. His authors in Communicational Criticism range from Shakespeare to Pinter, and include Pope, Wordsworth, Dickens, T. S. Eliot and Orwell (as well as Winston Churchill!), a richly traditional canon which is everywhere open to the challenges of new texts and perspectives, and which takes in the postmodern as 'a condition to which we now look back.' Sell’s thoughtful learning and intellectual freshness, and his humane grasp of social and political issues, give this book its distinctive character and value. - Claude Rawson, Yale University

This important contribution to dialogue studies strikes me as a valuable and vigorous -- and surprisingly non-defensive -- defense of literature for our time. It manages to shun the hierarchies associated with the sacralization of literature by earlier ages, and redefines communication for whatever age we happen to call ours, finding tonic examples of the most 'genuine' forms of communication in texts that have become canonical not because they are universal in meaning but because they are insistently dialogical in spirit, both open to and helping to foster heterogeneity. - Jonathan Baldo, University of Rochester, in Modern Language Review Vol. 109(4), pag. 1062-1064

The implicit dialogue between writers and their readers fluctuates constantly as texts are read and re-read over the years. This dialogicality, not least as it arises with the plays of Shakespeare, when audiences and reader mindsets change so radically over time, is analysed in Roger Sell’s new book with quite exceptional acuteness. - Andrew Gurr, University of Reading

In a way, what Sell is advocating is a literary criticism with communicational potential almost as strong as the literature that is its subject. His Communicational Criticism, with its insightful and innovative analyses of much-discussed works, realizes this potential, practicing its own principles. - David Stromberg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Partial Answers, Vol. 11:2 (2013)

Roger Sell's is the humane voice in contemporary literary criticism. His new book - working with texts from the Wakefield Nativity Play to Harold Pinter's drama, taking in writers such as Shakespeare, Pope, Coleridge and Dickens en route - urges us to consider the ways in which literature can function as a means of opening up dialogue with and among its unnamed readers. The impulse of this communicational criticism is generous and tolerant; its purpose is to instill an ethics of respect in the community of readers. It deserves to succeed. - Helen Wilcox, Bangor University

Roger D. Sell’s brilliant study offers a corrective to the view of the literary process as power struggle. What it shows is that the critique with which literary texts respond to the ideas brought along to them can be synergetic rather than confrontational. Valorizing “communicational genuineness” as one of the necessary conditions for lasting artistic achievement, Sell demonstrates that major writing engages in dialogue with its readers, while maintaining respect for their intellectual freedom. - Leona Toker, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

In this inspiring book of 'post-postmodern' criticism, Roger Sell once again reminds us that literature does not exist in a vacuum, that it is a complex and ethically charged form of communication between authors and readers, and that without interaction with readers, literature would be pointless. This is an impressive piece of scholarship, itself opening a new dialogue between literature and its addressees, not least by fully recognizing that reading can be a pleasurable experience. - Maria Nikolayeva, University of Cambridge

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