Difference: Reading with Barbara Johnson

An issue of: differences

Journal Issue Pages: 220 Volume 17, Number 3 Published: 2006 An issue of differences
This special issue of differences celebrates the work of the contemporary feminist literary critic and theorist Barbara Johnson, whose work has been revolutionary in foregrounding concepts of “difference.” Johnson’s is a unique method of literary reading in which literature becomes, in her words, “a mode of cultural work, the work of giving-to-read those impossible contradictions that cannot yet be spoken.”

The contributors to this issue recognize that one of Johnson’s primary gifts to literary studies is her ability to teach theoretical insights, not in a pedagogically prescriptive or didactic way, but through her exquisitely close readings of texts that illustrate the force of theory and language in practice. The first half of the issue comprises essays in which scholars influenced by Johnson offer close readings of texts ranging from Sandra Cisneros’s Carmelo to Edith Wharton’s “Roman Fever” to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Each of the remaining essays is marked by the intimate voice of its author offering a reflective tribute to Johnson’s thought and teaching.

Contributors. Lauren Berlant, Rachel Bowlby, Bill Brown, Mary Wilson Carpenter, Pamela Caughie, Lee Edelman, Jane Gallop, Bill Johnson González, Deborah Jenson, Lili Porten, Avital Ronell, Mary Helen Washington


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Table of Contents Back to Top

1. Editors’ Note–Elizabeth Weed

2. The Politics of Translation in Sandra Cisneros’s Caramelo–Bill Johnson Gonzalez

3. Cruel Optimism–Lauren Berlant

4. “I Had Barbara”: Women’s Ties and Wharton’s “Roman Fever”–Rachel Bowlby

5. Blinding the Hero–Mary Wilson Carpenter

6. The Metamorphosis of Commodities in Shaw’s Pygmalion–Lili Porten

7. Object Relations in an Expanded Field–Bill Brown

8. The Persons and Things School: Parrots, Peasants, and Pariahs in “Un Coeur Simple” and La Chaumiere indienne–Deborah Jenson

Barbara Johnson

9. Surrender and Ethically Binding Signature: On Johnson’s Reparative Process–Avital Ronell

10. Reading Johnson as a “as a”: Yes and No–Jane Gallop

11. Barbara Johnson, African Americanist: The Critic as Insider/Outsider–Mary Helen Washington

12. The Example of Barbara Johnson–Pamela L. Caughie

13. The Student Metaphor–Lee Edelman

Additional InformationBack to Top
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-8223-6657-7