Defining and Defiling the Black Messiah

Modernism/Modernity, Sept. 2013   PDF

“If the traditional equation of modernism and secularism has kept us from fully registering the rhetorical thrust of The New Negro, writers such as Richard Bruce Nugent and Wallace Thurman saw it clearly and responded in kind—contesting not only the prevailing pieties of their time but also the perceived wisdom of our own.”

Rhys Matters: New Critical Perspectives (Palgrave, 2013; New Caribbean Studies)  PDF

“But where, finally, does Jean Rhys’s fiction stand on the God question? Is He dead, as Nietzsche claimed; ‘indifferent,’ as Antoinette asserts in Wide Sargasso Sea; or just ‘very far away,’ as Rhys suggests in Smile Please?”

Jazz, Democracy, and the Sacred

African American Review, Spring–Summer 2011  PDF

“In what follows, I argue that the novels and essays of Ralph Ellison engage fruitfully and almost incessantly with such resonant tensions between the sacred and the profane, and that jazz serves, on the strength of those tensions—principally in its big-band, dancehall, Ellingtonian incarnation, though also as its spirit irrupts into the music and preaching of the black church—as the exemplary model for Ellison’s ambitious democratic vision.”

Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood”

Studies in the Novel, Winter 2011  PDF

“O’Connor was no political radical, of course, but she had as little patience for her country’s deifications of capital and consumption as for its secular commodifications of Christianity. She must not, then, have had such Protestants as Barth and Tillich in mind when she spoke of directing the satire of her first novel, Wise Blood (1952), ’against this Protestant world or against the society that reads the Bible and the Sears Roebuck catalogue wrong.’”

Journal of Modern Literature, Fall 2009  PDF

“Their story screams its silence against a deadening conspiracy of denials: the walls and locked door of a simulated nursery, the prudent elisions of a pair of mothers, the amnesia of a father, and even the narrative withholdings of an author.”

The Explicator, Winter 2009  PDF

“For children, it seems, little poems emerge of their own accord like bubbles from the bottoms of saucepans. The Waves, Woolf’s ‘playpoem,’ accordingly proceeds with a kind of childlike wonder to recreate the newness of language as it must have sounded in a lost state of linguistic—and erotic—innocence.”

“Ulysses” and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Hypermedia Joyce Studies, Spring 2007  online

“Early twentieth-century writers, then, had to contend not only with the new uncertainties of their epoch but also with a portentous and widely-accepted law of physics—one that can only have contributed forcefully to modernity’s crisis of meaning.

Profaning the Communion Table

Mina Loy and the Modernist Poetics of Blasphemy

Paideuma, Winter 2006

“Pound derived the term logopoeia from the twin meanings of logos as ‘word’ and ‘reason’; I think we can increase the concept’s usefulness by taking into account the biblical sense of Logos as the word of the Father made incarnate in the Son. Indeed, we might think of Christ—the Word become flesh—as the site of convergence of three of Loy’s predominant concerns: Christianity, language, and the body.”

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© 2019 by Steve Pinkerton