Northrop Frye 100: A Danubian Perspective
To honor Northrop Frye on the centenary of his birth, this conference was held in Budapest, 7–8 September 2012. It was sponsored by the Institute of English Studies, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, and the School of English and American Studies, Eötvös Loránd University. Participants heard papers by some thirty speakers, representing eight countries. In addition Milorad Krstić gave a video presentation of his extraordinary Das Anatomische Theater. Below are the English abstracts of the papers and the brief biographies of the participants. Only the names and titles are given for the papers and abstracts in Hungarian.
1. Bácskai-Atkári, Júlia
Frye Reading Byron
In his influential essay Archetypal Criticism, Northrop Frye interprets Byron’s Don Juan as a clear instance of satire, belonging to the “mythos of winter” (Frye 1957). As he points out, satire in Don Juan is to a large extent achieved by a strong self-parodying tendency and by constant digressions — both leading to the partial marginalization of the hero (Frye 1963). I will show that Frye’s analysis can be extended to the genre of the verse novel as such: first, it captures the chief differences from the mock epic, which is satire fundamentally lacking the two features in question. Second, the parody of other genres — which typically recall Frye’s “mythos of summer” — and self-mocking tone are present on a higher level too: the verse novel is a form which is by definition a literary response. As such, it is also self-responsive: verse novels after Byron tend not only to be self-reflexive as texts but they emphatically reflect on the genre itself, either by distancing themselves from (certain aspects of) previous verse novels, as did many Hungarian examples in the second half of the 19th century, or even by parodying previous ones, as does Térey’s Paulus with Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. With the appearance of contemporary instances of the genre (e.g. Byrne by Burgess), Frye’s analysis is very much of a current issue.
JÚLIA BÁCSKAI-ATKÁRI graduated from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest with an MA (hons) in English Language and Literature and in Hungarian Language and Literature. Currently, she is junior research fellow at the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and a PhD student at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest (PhD programmes in Romanticism and in English Linguistics). Her main research area is the narration of the 19th‑century novel in verse and of the postmodern development of the genre in Hungarian and English literature, with particular interest in Byron’s oeuvre and reception.
2. Bánki, Evá
A költészet születése—Samuel I. könyve alapján
[Paper, abstract, and bio in Hungarian]
3. Dancáková, Mária
Northrop Frye on the Metaphorical Language of the Bible
The paper focuses on Frye’s reading of the Biblical language which he defined, using Bultmann’s term, as kerygma, or proclamation, based on myth and metaphor, and showing affinities with the language of poetry and rhetoric. However, Frye never seemed to be satisfied with the definition and he struggled to find the exact wording for the biblical language and its literal meaning. Certain for him was its basis in myth and metaphor, as he believed that only such a language can detach people from the world of facts and logical propositions, and which has the power to transform their lives. Metaphor, as he explained, is the controlling mode of thought in the Bible and not only an ornament; its use is extended to the identification of a reader with what he reads in the Bible, arising especially from the centripetal relations among its words. Myth is the cornerstone of the biblical structure, and is not to be perceived as “not really true,” as the form of the biblical stories is more important than their historicity. The intention of the biblical writers was to tell a story, not to provide the readers with the accurate description of the era, or to tell them what they might have missed.
MÁRIA DANCÁKOVÁ (born on August 25, 1989 in Trebišov) currently lives in Presov. She attended the University of Presov in Presov, Faculty of Arts, in the study programme British and American Studies. In 2010 she obtained her bachelor’s degree and is currently in the last year of her master’s degree programme. The topic of her diploma thesis was Northrop Frye on the Metaphorical Language of the Bible. In the winter semester 2011, she spent four months at the University of Bolton, United Kingdom, as an Erasmus student.
4. Dávidházi, Péter
A Tribute to The Great Code: Voltaire’s Lisbon Poem, Mikes and the Book of Job
Being a tribute to Northrop Frye’s work on the Bible, the paper is meant to demonstrate how a present-day scholar may benefit from applying Frye’s insights and methods to a comparative analysis of two literary works with a common, if latent, biblical subtext. Both Voltaire’s “Poëme sur le désastre de Lisbonne ou examen de cet axiome: tout est bien” and Kelemen Mikes’s letter CXCVIII in his Letters from Turkey were prompted by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, both responded to the problems of theodicy, and both alluded to the book of Job. In constant dialogue with Frye’s ideas, the paper reveals these similarities, but only to highlight (and celebrate) some characteristic differences that are incompatible with the usual classification of Mikes’s work as a typical representative of early Enlightenment literature.
PÉTER DÁVIDHÁZI. Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is head of the Department of 19th-century Hungarian Literature at the Research Centre for the Humanities, and he is Professor of English Literature at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. As a visiting professor he taught at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Published in Hungary, England and the US, his books include The Romantic Cult of Shakespeare: Literary Reception in Anthropological Perspective (London: Macmillan, 1998). His latest book is Menj, vándor. Swift sírfelirata és a hagyományrétegzödes [Go, Traveller. Swift’s Epitaph and the Strata of a Tradition] (Pecs: Pro Pannonia, 2009). His recent work focuses on the uses of biblical allusions in modern English and Hungarian Poetry.
5. Denham, Robert. D.
The “Two Fryes”: The Aristotelian and the Longinian
This paper examines the question of whether or not there are two essential thrusts to Frye’s critical vision that are more or less incommensurate with each other and that therefore are not subject to Frye’s usual tendency of bringing together oppositions, such as Aristotle versus Longinus, by way of their interpenetration or their being subjected to the Hegelian Aufhebung. The question is approached by way of Frye’s commitment to both Aristotelian and Longinian perspectives. Denham concludes that Frye finally privileges Longinus over Aristotle.
ROBERT D. DENHAM is the Fishwick Professor of English, Emeritus, Roanoke College, Salem, VA. He was formerly Director of English Programs for the Modern Language Association. He has written and edited 26 volumes by or about Northrop Frye, including eleven volumes of The Collected Works of Northrop Frye. His most recent book is The Northrop Frye Handbook. This past summer he donated his extensive Frye collection to the Public Library in Moncton, New Brunswick, Frye’s hometown. The collection included books, articles, and other printed matter, amounting to 43 feet of shelf space; 38 videotapes and 65 audiotapes, Frye’s writing desk and chair, a bronze bust of Frye, oil paintings, several dozen original drawings and caricatures, 114 translations of Frye’s books into 25 languages, and numerous other Frygiana.
6. Dullo, Andrei
Application of Frye’s Analysis of Christian Symbols to Romanian Mythology
Northrop Frye is known as one of the greatest literary critics in the contemporary period. His approach can be applied to anything related to literature all over the world. His contribution to understanding cultural environment can be sensed even in the Danubian space. My aim in this paper is to apply Northrop Frye’s analysis of Christian symbols to Romanian mythology, especially to myths referring to the creation of the world. Our tradition is rich in mythological beings and stories that follow a pattern easily found in the Bible. Filtered by the ancient Romanian mentality, these myths consist of Christian motifs that emerge together with other kinds of influences at work in the Danubian region where adaptations of the Bible are widespread. Frye’s study of biblical symbols (in The Great Code: The Bible and Literature) can be successfully applied to our Christian mythology. Therefore, my paper is aimed at enriching the way in which Northrop Frye is perceived, both in Romania and in South-Eastern Europe, and providing an alternative interpretation of native mythological motifs.
ANDREI DULLO (born in Cluj-Napoca 1991) is a student in the bachelor second year at the Faculty of Letters of Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. He is vice-president of the writing circle held at the Students House of Culture, Cluj-Napoca Municipality (2008––present). He has published in Steaua cultural magazine of Cluj-Napoca, Bucovina Literară, cultural magazine of Suceava, Semn, cultural magazine of Cluj-Napoca, and in Avangarda Literara, cultural magazine of Galati.
7. Fabiny, Tibor
Northrop Frye and Béla Hamvas
The lecture wishes to focus on the common features, and especially one common motif, i.e. “transparence,” in the writings of the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye (1912–1991) and the Hungarian writer, thinker and philosopher of religion Béla Hamvas (1897–1968). Both of them were unusual, idiosyncratic thinkers whose works are not easy to classify; and their outstanding intellectual output in both cases has had a rather controversial reception.
Hamvas was a chief librarian and a prolific essayist in Budapest between the two world wars. On the eve of the Stalinist totalitarian takeover, Hamvas’s book on modern art was severely denounced as “modern snobbism” by George Lukács. Being employed as a physical worker for several decades, Hamvas’s works were prohibited to be published, but his manuscripts were copied and were circulated by his followers.
A common motif in the works of Hamvas and Frye is “transparence,” which, according to the dictionary, means “allowing light to pass through so that objects (or at least their outlines) behind can be distinctly seen.” In his most famous work Scientia Sacra Hamvas writes that “transparence” has got to do with aletheia, i.e. truth. For Northrop Frye “transparence” was a category he frequently used but never explicitly discussed. He adopted the term in two, not totally unrelated contexts: (a) as a principle of pedagogy, (b) as a principle of language. Biblical language, says Frye, is characterized by a kind of “transparence” as it can be “seen through”; it does not want to hide something as a hidden agenda. Both Hamvas and Frye advocated and adopted a language that is unusual in the context of discursive argument and logical discourse. Both of them, therefore, have chosen to be extravagant outsiders, if not necessary stumbling blocks, for their contemporaries.
TlBOR FABINY is Director of the Institute of English Studies and the Center for Hermeneutics at Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Budapest. He teaches early modern English literature and culture, including the works of William Tyndale, William Shakespeare and John Milton, literary theory, and the history of biblical interpretation. He is the author of several books in Hungarian; his book in English (The Lion and the Lamb. Figuralism and Fulfilment in the Bible, Art and Literature, London, Macmillan, 1992) on biblical typology and literature was inspired by Northrop Frye’s insights on the subject.
8. Feltracco, Daniela
Northrop Frye and the Neural Theory of Metaphor
[Daniela Feltracco had to cancel her participation.]
9. Ficová, Sylva
Northrop Frye, William Blake and the Art of Translation
Motto: I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Mans. As far as we know Northrop Frye did not study the theory of translation, nor did he practice it. It even seems he believed that the “translation” of ideas and concepts is quite impossible—that “an intellectual and cultural synthesis that gets everything in and reconciles everyone with everyone else is an attempt to build a Tower of Babel, and will lead to confusion of utterance.” Yet the interest in the history of literature and oriental culture inspired Northrop Frye and helped him understand and cultivate the art of interpretation and recreation of ideas, particularly in his study Fearful Symmetry. That is why I would like to discuss the importance of Frye’s work for the translation profession and how it influenced my translation of his Anatomy of Criticism and William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
SYLVA FICOVÁ is a freelance translator and editor. She studied English and Czech at the Faculty of Art, Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, and took part in exchange studies at the Faculty of Arts, University of Leeds, UK. She has translated more than ten books, including two theoretical works by Northrop Frye, fiction, poetry, and a comic book. As a freelance translator she also specializes in professional technical translation and subtitling. She has worked as an English teacher for several years and published a number of book reviews and articles. She lives with her daughter and partner in Brno, Czech Republic. Last autumn she read a paper on “Northrop Frye in the Czech Lands” at the conference Canada in Eight Tongues organized by the Central European Association for Canadian Studies and Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest.
10. Frank, Joseph William
American Laconic: Studies at the Crossroads of Spare Prose, Inarticulateness, and Realism
Drawing on Frye’s argument that pathos in low mimetic fiction is increased by the inarticulateness of the victim, by some ironic limitation or failure of expression whereby narrative says little––mimicking inarticulateness––while meaning much (Anatomy of Criticism 39, 40), my paper asks how falling short of eloquent communication effects and is effected by a narrative form defined by a poetics of limitedness: the short story—a form too often ignored, yet fit to host a study of limited articulation.
In “The Nature of Knowledge in Short Fiction,” Charles E. May states, in a point corroborated in Frye’s essay “On Fiction,” that “the short story precedes the long story as the most natural means of narrative communication” (The New Short Story Theories 131). Frye, Erich Auerbach, and Jorges Luis Borges, each theorize inarticulateness and limitedness—epistemological and expository—as the basis of narrative realism in terms lending to, but yet employed to elaborate, theories of the short story as a distinct form. My work considers how inarticulateness in low mimetic prose is composed by contemporary fictionists writing in the short form. I endeavor to expand Frye’s theory via a study of what Bill Buford calls Dirty Realism: the short fiction of writers like Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, and Amy Hempel, whose stories are “so insistently informed by a discomforting and sometimes elusive irony… [that] it is what’s not being said––the silences, the elisions, the omissions––that [seem] to speak most” (Granta 8), which Frye calls “concentrated desolation” (“On Fiction”). I posit that investigations into the intersection of inarticulateness and the short story, using Frye’s claim as a basis, usher scholars toward a new understanding of realism as the representation of human ignorance.
JOSEPH WILLIAM FRANK is a Doctoral Candidate of American Literature and Senior Tutor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Studying under the supervision of Northrop Frye scholars Dr. Joseph Adamson and Dr. Jeffery Donaldson, Joseph’s dissertation, titled American Laconic, studies the proliferation of laconic prose and the idea of limited knowledge as an essential element of literary realism in American short fiction after 1980. He has lectured on Edgar Allan Poe and John Barthes, presented at conferences in Canada and the United Kingdom, published fiction in Canada and the United States, and maintains scholarly blogs on American literature and pictorial narratives. He is a graduate of the University of Waterloo (BIS ’06) and the University of Toronto (MA CRW ’08) and expects to defend his doctoral thesis in 2013.
11. Fülöp, Jozsef
Northrop Frye és Rudolf Kassner
[Paper, abstract, and bio in Hungarian]
12. Gill, Glen Robert
The Dialectical Vision: Myth and Criticism as Cultural Theory in the Work of Northrop Frye
The twenty-first century has thus far seen an increasing marginalization of myth as an existential factor to populist, insular, and radical communities, which thrive but largely outside the mainstream of liberal intellectual culture. Over the course of his prolific fifty-year career, Northrop Frye consistently worked to recover myth from the rationalist and materialist perspectives that sponsor such dismissals, even as he theorized the function of such skeptical habits of mind in liberal society. A conventional overemphasis of one of these aspects of Frye’s work over the other, however, has led to a misapprehension of his intellectual project and legacy as Janus-faced, as dual if not bifurcated, establishing an identity for him as a theorist of myth on the one hand, and as a social and cultural critic on the other. A long-overdue coordinating of these two dimensions of Frye’s thought, as this paper shall endeavour, will demonstrate that they are interrelated and interdependent as dialectical phases or elements in a single, over-arching vision or theory of myth-as-cultural process. In this paper, I will argue that the chief contribution and essential legacy of Northrop Frye is his mythic theory of culture; his conception of society as proceeding dialectically from an essential, originary basis of mythic thought, which itself creates a necessary, countervailing phase of rational resistance, but ultimately enables, through the catalytic element of criticism, a mature consciousness of culture as consisting of variations and complexes of myth accommodated to yet fulfilled in the existential realities of human life.
GLEN ROBERT GILL is an Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Humanities at Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA. He is the author of Northrop Frye and the Phenomenology of Myth (University of Toronto Press, 2007), the editor of Northrop Frye on Twentieth-Century Literature for The Collected Works of Northrop Frye (University of Toronto Press, 2010), and has published essays on Frye, C. G. Jung, T. S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and R. R. Tolkien.
13. Graham, Brian Russell
Primary Identity in Literature: Frye-Inspired Reflections on Characters in Literature
In our times, literary criticism, as well as larger political and cultural developments, is characterized by identity politics, meaning that our discourses are structured around the notion of different socially identifiable populations in society. In relation to literature, this results in our viewing the characters in literature in terms of these political identities. Literature is consequently discussed in relation to political causes. Literary criticism is animated by the same causes, and is viewed as having a direct intervention in society in relation to them.
In this paper, I will discuss, in relation to Frye’s works, the idea that the primary identities of characters in literature were and, to a considerable extent, continue to be those of family-member identities. As such, literature should not be appropriated to a political context too readily. Whereas viewing characters in terms of, for example, social class affiliations leads to political literary criticism, viewing the same characters as first and foremost family members is, by and large, apolitical, relating rather to issues of human fulfillment or frustration rather than different kinds of justice. Literature, Frye tells us, expands in opposite directions towards the fulfillment of desire at one end of experience and a world of fear and despair at the other, and in relation to its notion of a better society, what interests literature is a society of contented families joined through the marriage of their adult children.
BRIAN RU.SSELL GRAHAM is assistant professor of literature, media and culture at Aalborg University in Denmark. His first monograph, The Necessary Unity of Opposites, is a study of Northrop Frye, particularly Frye’s dialectical thinking. He continues to work with literary and cultural theory, but has also begun original research on English poet William Blake. He also writes about popular culture—his latest research in this area deals with “Fictions of the Apocalypse.” Graham has also been venturing into fiction, 2011 seeing the publication of his first work of fiction.
14. Hódosy, Annamária
Frye Against Freud—on Revolution
Apart from their apparent themes, popular Hungarian national poetry in the 19th century and Hollywood films on heroic warfare have a peculiar feature in common. They can be rather easily interpreted as oedipal fantasies from a Freudian psychoanalytic perspective. Such a reading can be justified only if we consider the oedipal complex as an ahistorical psychological phenomenon, which is much doubted in current cultural criticism. This doubt is even more serious if we consider that such a Freudian reading, as usual, is possible only by rendering rather diverse elements under the same terms––as that of the mother-figure or the father-figure—which sometimes seems to be rather arbitrary. The problems of this interpretation, however, could be solved from a Frygian perspective: reading the (film-)texts as romances, the structure of this metagenre together with its “ritual analogies” can well explain the diversity of phenomena that may arise from the same root. This way the similarities between the works mentioned do not have to be seen as anachronistic and their differences can be viewed as historical variations. The preoccupation with oedipal themes in Hungarian national poetry and drama might be explained by the prevalence of the “romantic myth” theorized by Frye, while the return of this theme in such a Hollywood film as Armageddon can be seen as a manifestation of the mother-centred myth conceptualized by Frye that might gain renewed importance in the late 20th century due to the emergence of green movements and theories like eco-feminism and evolutionary sociology. What is more, following the critique of Deleuze and Guattari, the Oedipus-complex itself can be interpreted as a specific romance substructure emerging with the rise of capitalism demonstrated by novels of the Hungarian writer Mór Jókai propagating bourgeois development and films explicating the theme of the revolution like Drums along the Mohawk by John Ford (1939).
ANNAMÁRIA HÓDOSY teaches as senior assistant professor at the Visual Culture and Literary Theory Department of the University of Szeged. She wrote her PhD thesis on the metafiction in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Her main fields of interest are metafiction, feminist and queer literary and film theory.
15. Horváth, Csaba
Kettös tükrök — Tükörszerkezetek és biblikus olvasatok a kortárs magyar irodalomban (Esterházy: Harmonia Caelestis, Bodor Ádam: Sinistra körzet, Verhovina madarai.)
[Paper, abstract, and bio in Hungarian]
16. Kelemen, Zoltan
Mítosz és irodalom––Northrop Frye mítoszkonstrukciójának kritikai megközelitése
[Paper, abstract, and bio in Hungarian]
17. Kenyeres, János
Northrop Frye as Creative Writer
Northrop Frye’s works have been examined from a wide range of perspectives; his multifaceted output has been analyzed from the viewpoint of such divergent fields as literary theory, Biblical scholarship and cultural and social studies. However, Frye was not only a literary critic, social theorist and cultural thinker but a creative writer as well. Most of his eight pieces of short fiction were published between 1936 and 1941 in Acta Victoriana and The Canadian Forum; in addition, Frye is also the author of an unfinished novel. This paper is intended to examine Frye as a creative writer and trace some connections between his fiction and scholarship.
JÁNOS KENYERES is Director of Research and Associate Professor in the School of English and American Studies at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, where he teaches English and Canadian literature, Canadian cinema, and literary theory. He has several publications in these fields, including the book Revolving around the Bible: A Study of Northrop Frye (2003). From 2005 to 2008 he was Visiting Professor of Hungarian at the University of Toronto. He is currently president of the Central European Association for Canadian Studies, head of the Canadian Studies Centre in the School of English and American Studies at Eötvös Loránd University, and co-editor of The AnaChronisT.
18. Klapcsik, Sándor
Scapegoat and Liminality in the Country House: A Mythical and Anthropological Approach to Detective Fiction
Based on Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism, I intend to demonstrate in my presentation that detective fiction is strongly connected to myth and rituals, especially the ritual of scapegoat (pharmakos), Victor Turner’s rites of passage and liminality. In the classical detective story, usually a powerful man, the head of the family, is murdered and so an established world order and seemingly rightful power structure is ended. The new order, however, cannot commence before the guilty party is found. The culprit does not have to be the actual murderer, merely a suitable scapegoat for the family. Analogously, Frye emphasizes that the basic formula of detective fiction presents “how a man-hunter locates a pharmakos and gets rid of him.” Frye associates detective fiction with comedy, which is centered on the (re)birth or “the integration of the society,” a state that “the audience has recognized all along to be the proper and desirable state of affairs.” The suspects need to go through a liminal phase: the English country house represents seclusion, the characters lose their identity, the family’s former harmony and structure is suspended and its hierarchy is turned upside down during the investigation. Eventually, however, after the characters endure the ordeal, the ritual of liminality and that of the pharmakos, they can regain a stable identity and power structure. A new social order is created and a stabilized social life can commence, in a way similar to traditional comedies. Thus, the genre manifests Turner’s arguments that emphasize the temporary and re-constitutive nature of liminality: the liminal phases “invert but do not usually subvert the status quo, the structural form, of society; reversal underlines to the members of the community that chaos is the alternative to cosmos, so they’d better stick to cosmos, i.e., the traditional order of culture.”
SÁNDOR KLAPCSIK is a part-time senior lecturer at Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Budapest, Hungary. He earned his PhD at the Cultural Studies Department of the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, in 2010. He was a Fulbright-Zoltai Fellow at the University of Minnesota and did a long-term research at the science fiction archives of the University of Liverpool. His essays were published in Extrapolation, Foundation, and Journal of the Fantastic in Arts, and he received the Jamie Bishop Memorial Award from IAFA for an essay in Hungarian on Philip K. Dick as well as the Mary Kay Bray Award from SFRA for his review on Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. His book Liminality in Fantastic Fiction: A Poststructuralist Approach was published by McFarland in 2012.
19. Kocić-Zámbó, Larisa
Frye and the Musical Poet
It is a well-known fact that Frye was a lover of music to the point that he considered it an “alternative career.” Yet, the role of music has been left largely unexplored in the conceptual framework of his literary theory (Bogdan). Perhaps for the same reason, his preoccupation with Milton had never enjoyed such eminence as his writings on Blake, for it is in terms of music and od the musical poet that the importance of Milton to Frye stands out (Fletcher). Hence, my aim is to explore how Frye’s knowledge of music, and his theoretical use of musical form––particularly in his exposition on epos—sheds new light on Milton’s Paradise Lost and can therefore contribute to the recently rekindled debate among Milton scholars about the oral/aural significance of Milton’s poem.
LARISA KOCIĆ‑ZÁMBÓ is an assistant lecturer at the University of Szeged. She wrote her dissertation on the protean use of language in Erasmus and Milton She has been teaching classes on Renaissance representations of death and angelology, as well as on aspects of popular culture like fandom and comics. She is also web designer of the TNT (Gender Research Group) and the technical editor of the TNTeF, the Interdisciplinary ejournal of Gender Studies.
20. Kovács, Árpad
Northrop Frye idöszerüsége: a trópustól az egzisztcnciális metaforáig
[Paper, abstract, and bio in Hungarian]
21. Kürtösi, Katalin
Northrop Frye about Canadian Modernism
This paper investigates Northrop Frye’s views about contemporary Canadian culture and about the “modern” and “Modernism.” In his eyes, “[p]ainting is by far the most interesting art in Canada up to about 1960.” His reviews about poetry anthologies and volumes in the 1940s and 1950s played a decisive role in establishing the “canon” of this genre in Canada. As one critic said, “Canadian literature […] became an important testing-ground for the fully developed critical principles set forth in the Anatomy.”
For him, “modern” means the previous hundred years: in The Modern Century, he elaborates on the major social and cultural changes that had taken place in Canada between 1867 and 1967. In his view, the “modern world” started to take shape in the late 1860s, and its most significant differentia specified are self-reflection and fragmentation, focusing more on the process than on the product. Among the dominant features of Modernism, the issues of “centre” and “margin” will also be highlighted. We will cite criticism about Frye by disciples and other theorists.
KATALIN KÜRTÖSI (Dr. habil.) is associate professor at the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Szeged, specializing in Canadian and theatre studies. She was editor-in-chief of the Central European Journal of Canadian Studies (2001–09), authored two monographs in her research fields and is coordinator of a regional project about the translations of Canadian literature into the languages of the Central European region.
22. Lawson, Todd
Teaching Frye and the Qur’an
This presentation is in the nature of a report from the front. I will share the form and contents of my courses on the Qur’an, both undergraduate and graduate, as this relates to using the thought of Northrop Frye as an approach to the Qur’an. What students of the Qur’an at University of Toronto find stimulating and challenging when asked to read what Frye has to say, mainly about the Bible, and then to apply this to our own directed reading of the Qur’an. Frye’s insights together with what appear to be his own cultural biases also are expressed in his work in direct reference to the Qur’an and Islam. How such incongruities seem to lead students to an impressive appreciation of the literary qualities of the Qur’an text will be illustrated through reference to some of the more thoughtful graduate student papers produced over the last five years. These papers deal with a variety of interrelated topics, such as time, narrative, apocalypse, repetition and signs/interpenetration. The presentation ends with thoughts on how further research in the Frye archive, especially his personal annotated copies of the Qur’an, might be useful in structuring future course syllabi.
TODD LAWSON is Associate Professor of Islamic Thought at the University of Toronto. He has published widely in Quranic studies including problems in classical exegesis (tafsir), later Shi’i exegesis and the development of scriptural commentary in both the Babi and the Baha’i religions. His two most recent books are The Crucifixion and the Qur’an: A Study in the History of Muslim Thought (2009,) and Gnostic Apocalypse and Islam: Qur’an, Tafsir, Messianism and the Literary Origins of the Bahi Religion (2011). He is co-editor, with Sebastian Günther, of a two-volume anthology of new scholarship on Islamic eschatology entitled, Roads to Paradise (in progress). He is now working on the epic and apocalyptic literary dynamics of the Qur’an.
23. Le Fustec, Claude
The Kerygmatic Mode in the Fiction from the United States
The aim of this contribution is to use Frye’s notion of “the kerygmatic” as a critical tool in the study of literature. The project itself seems amply supported by Frye’s own vision of the responsibility of the critic. In O’Grady’s terms, Frye seems to have envisioned “a role for the critic in connection with kerygma.” In “The Responsibilities of the Critic” he focused on the prophetic authority of literature and suggested that the critic’s task was to identify it. In this paper we will investigate US fiction via the study of three canonical novels: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1988). Indeed, each of these novels seems to manifest what might arguably be termed three “aspects” of “kerygma.”
As critics have pointed out, kerygma is a particularly elusive concept when it comes to its being applied to literature. Northrop Frye himself seems to have been hesitant about applying it to secular works, though he did come to recognize that “every work of art is a possible medium for kerygma.” Concerning US fiction, the considerable power that Puritan imagination has wielded over it makes it a particularly interesting field of study. When considered in a sequence, the afore-mentioned novels reveal an increasingly internalized relationship to kerygma. In the process of studying this evolution, we shall discuss the romantic dramatization of kerygma in The Scarlet Letter, prophecy in The Grapes of Wrath and the principle of interpenetration in Beloved as three manifestations of the “kerygmatic mode” in US fiction. Our hope is to shed light on the multifaceted aspects of what remains the essential mystery of man’s relationship to transcendence, referred to as “kerygma.”
CLAUDE LE FUSTEC is Assistant Professor in (Afro-) American Literature at Rennes 2 University (France) and has conducted research oriented by her interest in literature and spirituality. After her PhD thesis on Toni Cade Bambara’s and Toni Morrison’s fiction, she published a monograph on Toni Cade Bambara (Toni Cade Bambara: entre militantisme et fiction, Paris, Belin, 2003) as well as several contributions bearing both on American and African American fiction. Her latest publications include a volume on Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath (Claude Le Fustec, (ed.), Lectures de Steinbeck, Les raisins de la colère. Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2007) as well as one dealing with gender in the literature and arts of the English speaking world (Claude Le Fustec and Sophie Marret, (eds), La fabrique du genre, (dé)constrnctions du féminin et du masculin dans les arts et la littérature anglophones, PUR, January 2009). She is currently working on a book using Northrop Frye’s theory to examine US fiction and its relationship to transcendence.
24. Mitocaru, Ana-Magdalena
Northrop Frye in Romania. Translations and Critical Studies
This paper aims at giving a Romanian overview on the Canadian scholar’s work in terms of his reception by means of translations and critical studies. We will include both communist and post-communist perspectives and see whether the criticism on Northrop Frye published during the totalitarian regime was marked by Marxist grids or not. Also, we will try to account for the translations from Frye since communist years to the present day and the possible criteria that might have operated in the selection of his works for translation. Moreover, we will have in view the author’s reception in the Romanian academic world and the extent to which he is included in the university curriculum.
[Ana-Magdalena Mitocaru had to cancel her presentation]
ANA-MAGDALHNA MITOCARU holds a PhD on a Canadian-related topic (The English Canadian Novel in Romania. Translations and Critical Studies) awarded in 2011 by “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, Romania. During her doctoral studies she participated in a SSHRC-based project (The Contribution of Literary Translation to Intercultural Understanding: Developing a Model for Reciprocal Exchange) and disseminated the results of her research at national and international conferences on British and American Studies, in general and Canadian Studies in particular.
25. Nagy, Judit
Canadian-American Relations in the Light of Northrop Frye’s “Sharing the Continent”
In his essay entitled “Sharing the Continent” (1982), Northrop Frye comments on Canadian-American relations, a factor which is crucial to the understanding of Canada’s contemporary context. The current paper serves a double purpose. First, it aims at highlighting Frye’s most important observations concerning Canadian-American relations while also attempting to estimate to what extent these premises may be valid today. Second, it will be demonstrated that, in his essay, Frye anticipated some elements of the “continentalism versus nationhood” discourse which became increasingly important in Canadian Studies a decade later.
JUDIT NAGY is a full time adjunct professor at the Department of English Linguistics of the Budapest-based Károli Gáspár University of the Hungarian Reformed Church, where she has been teaching courses in Canadian Studies and applied linguistics. She defended her PhD dissertation entitled But a few Acres of Snow?—Weather Images in Canadian Short Prose (1945–2000) at Eötvös Loránd University in early 2009. Her current fields of research include metaphors in an interdisciplinary approach as well as curriculum and teaching material development in Canadian Studies and in applied linguistics.
26. Nyilasy, Balazs
Northrop Frye és a romance
[The paper, abstract, and bio in Hungarian]
27. Sinding, Michael
The Shaping Spirit: Literary Cosmology, Cognition and Culture
Frye’s approach to culture integrates bodily, cognitive, semiotic, social, and historical factors. Yet productive dialogue with other approaches is challenging: sympathizers may get stuck “inside” his capacious thinking, while skeptics remain “outside”—today, typically emphasizing contextual factors shaping cultural texts (e.g., ideology). I explore an integrative approach via Frye’s account of the inversion of the axis mundi.
Frye’s principle that thought and meaning are structured by metaphor and narrative is central to cognitive science today (Lakoff and Johnson, Turner, Hogan). Studies of cultural and cognitive change and stability (e.g. Greenblatt, Zunshine) can therefore profit from his vision of intertwined imaginative-cultural processes.
Frye sees early cultures as rooted in mythologies (canonical narratives addressing “primary concerns”), which mentally crystallize into cosmologies. These world-pictures are organized by spatial metaphors based on the orientation of the human body (e.g. the axis mundi). Cosmologies become frameworks for later literary and theoretical structures.
Changes in cosmology, then, affect all of human experience. The most profound change in Western cultural history was the 18th-century inversion of the axis mundi, the locus of value and power shifted from God (above and outside) to humanity (below and within). To develop this account, I examine how cosmological structures inform Rousseau’s revolutionary early Discourses (Words 239-43), and therein mediate historical change. I identify key spatial metaphors and myths, and assess how they embody and manipulate the “image-schemas” of vertical scale (up/down) and container (in/out). Preliminary analysis suggests that Rousseau highlights interiorizing more than inverting processes.
MICHAEL SINDING is a Marie Curie Fellow in the Department of Language and Communication at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His current project “Framing the World: Genre as Worldview” is a study of how metaphor and narrative interact in structuring moral and political worldviews, particularly during the formation of modern liberalism and conservatism in the 18th‑century debate over the French Revolution. He also studies cognitive approaches to literary and cultural forms, including genre, narrative, metaphor, and allegory, especially genre mixture as conceptual blending. He received his PhD from McMaster University and has held postdoctoral fellowships in Canada and Germany. He has published articles and reviews in the Wallace Stevens Journal, Genre, New Literary History, SubStance, Style, Poetics Today, Postmodern Culture, Cognitive Linguistics, and the Journal of Literary Theory, and in edited collections Northrop Frye: New Directions from Old, Beyond Cognitive Metaphor Theory, The Cognition of Literature, and Blending and Narrative. His book Body of Vision: Northrop Frye and the Poetics of Mind will be published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012.
28. Sinka, Judit Erzsebet
A “balladisztikus novella” mint archaikus tapasztalatok megjelenitöje a modemségben—a ”balladisztikus novella” a frye-i tengelyen
[The paper, abstract, and bio in Hungarian]
29. Takács, Miklos
Northrop Frye’s Theory on Linguistic Modes and Recent Media Theories
The paper seeks to demonstrate that the three linguistic modes introduced in The Great Code, to which one more has been added in Words with Power, show relevant parallelisms with recent media theories. This assumption also entails that Frye has foreseen the vast impact of electric media on culture—even before the dawn of the digital age, from a much more limited horizon. Although he explicitly admits the influence of Walter J. Ong in the foreword of the first book, he does not articulate the link between the linguistic modes and the eras of media history. However, the metaphoric linguistic mode is parallel to primary orality, the metonymic mode corresponds to the first period of literacy, while the descriptive mode shows similarities with the typographic age. As for the self-understanding of our own era, it is crucial that the last, rhetorical mode can be regarded as the linguistic aspect of today’s secondary orality. Aleida Assmann’s term referring to the same period, “the culture of attention” is even more closely related to Frye’s concepts. Furthermore, Frye’s ideas are also related to the works of authors who are much-cited abroad just as well as in Hungary, such as Friedrich A. Kittler, Ludwig K. Pfeiffer and Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht. It does not imply that Frye had any kind of direct impact on these media theories, but the paper has no ambition of mapping a possible reception history either. It rather aims to highlight that notwithstanding the altered medial horizons, Frye’s work can still be applied as a valid theoretical framework.
MIKLÓS TAKÁCS is Assistant Professor of the Institute of Hungarian and Comparative Literature and Culture at the University of Debrecen. He also majored here in History and Hungarian literature and received his degree in 1999. He defended his doctoral dissertation in 2006, which was published in 2011 under the title Adj, a korai Rilke és az “istenes vers” [Ady, the Early Rilke and Their Religious Poetry] by the Debrecen University Press. His wider field of interest being literary theory and contemporary literature, he is currently working on a monograph that focuses on the relationship of trauma and literature.
30. Tóth, Sára
The Paradisal Pole: A Frygian Perspective on European Irony: The Example of
the Danish Film Green Butchers
In my paper I will apply Frye’s perspective on one decisive feature of European elite culture, namely, the presence of extreme irony, or rather, the tendency of interpretation to overlook textual data pointing away from irony. Influential thinkers of the 20th century such as Paul de Man or Jacques Lacan tend to essentialize irony by turning it into the ultimate condition of human existence. In contrast, Northrop Frye is known to be a critic with a preference for comedy and romance as opposed to tragedy and irony. In his vision of the whole of literature, Frye relativizes the mythos of irony and satire by turning it into one of the four pregeneric narratives and by opposing its demonic imagery to the paradisal or apocalyptic group of images. In his strongest statement on the relativity of irony Frye, associating it with hell, states that “it is the paradisal pole that gives us a perspective on the hell world […] provides the norm that makes irony ironic” (WP 88). This means that a narrative of the most extreme tragical or ironical descent can conjure up its opposite, the comic assent, thus echoing the entire U‑shaped story of loss and recovery, of alienation and redemption. In a brief discussion of Anders Thomas Jensen’s film, my aim is to apply Frye’s archetypal perspective and show that while the majority of online reviews essentialize the murderously dark satire of the two cannibal butchers who sacrifice others to feed themselves, they overlook strong visual and narrative hints of the opposite, paradisal pole, an Eucharistic vision of love nurtured by sacrifice.
SARA TOTH (1967) teaches courses in English literature, religion studies, and translation studies at Károli Gáspár University. Her main interest is the interplay between Christianity and the arts, particularly literature and Christian belief, literature and the Bible. She completed her doctorate in 2003 with a dissertation on the religious aspects of the work of Northrop Frye. She has published papers on Northrop Frye in English (in the volume New Directions from Old published by University of Ottawa Press, and in the journal English Studies in Canada) as well as in Hungarian (Pannonhalmi Szemle, Holmi among others). Her first book, so far the only book-length study of Northrop Frye in the Hungarian language, was published in September 2012.
31. Zwanzig, Rebekah
Anagnorisis in Northrop Frye and the Qur’an
In the Introduction to Worth with Power Frye states that a large portion of his critical thinking has revolved around the double meaning of the Aristotelian term anagnorisis. The paper will explore the Quranic imagery of mountains, specifically Mt. ‘Arafat, and the etymological connection to the Arabic verb ‘arafa (to recognize, to know) as the framework for understanding a larger Quranic narrative of recognition. This narrative begins on the Day of the Covenant (Q7:172 ), continues with the Quranic imperative to recognize the signs of God, and culminates on the Day of Judgment. The play between the double meaning of ‘recognition’ and ‘discovery’ can be found throughout Fryc’s work, and is perhaps most apparent in his articulation of the interplay between identity and metaphor starting in The Great Code and carrying through to The Double Vision. Frye’s concept of the existential metaphor hinges on the reader’s discovery of and subsequent recognition of a “that’s for me” element in the text. The paper will explore this framework in Frye’s reading of the Qur’an by analyzing some of the annotations in two Qur’ans from his personal collection. It will look at the annotations related to mountain imagery and the concepts associated with recognition in his Qur’ans and how they can be understood in the context of Frye’s broader inquiry into anagnorisis.
REBEKAH ZWANZIG is a Research Assistant at the University of Toronto. Her current research interests focus on studying the Qur’an as literature and the creative and transformative effects reading has on the individual. She holds a M.A. in Religion from the University of Toronto and a M.A. in Philosophy from Brock University. Her previous research focused on the French philosopher and Islamic Studies scholar Henry Corbin’s concept of philosophy, and the role of the Perfect Human (al-isan al-kamil) in Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought.
MILORAD KRSTIĆ is a Central European artist born in the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia, in 1952. He took a degree in law. Since 1989 he has lived and worked in Budapest, Hungary, as a painter and multimedia artist. He tried himself in different fields of visual art, including painting, drawing and sculpture, animation, documentary film, stage design, set design, photography, interactive CD-ROM, picture books for children, and comics.