Crossing the Threshold: The Ethics of Literary Transgression in the Unedited Raymond Carver

Humble, Catherine. 2012. Crossing the Threshold: The Ethics of Literary Transgression in the Unedited Raymond Carver. In: Aspasia Stephanou; Matt Foley and Neil McRobert, eds. Transgression and its Limits. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 133-144. ISBN 978-1443837293 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Transgression and Its Limits is a long overdue collection that reads the complex relationship between artistic transgressions and the limits of law and the subject. In mid-twentieth century theoretical understandings of transgressive culture it is the existence of the limit that guarantees the possibility and success of the transgression. While the limit calls for obedience, it also tempts with the possibility of violation. To breach the limits of the acceptable is to simultaneously define them. However, this classical understanding of transgression may no longer apply under the conditions of post-modernity, late-capitalism, and the simulated or empty transgressions that this period of the simulacra encourages. Context becomes paramount in reading the myriad forms of transgression that encompass politics, aesthetics and the ethics of the obscene; while a range of theoretical perspectives are employed in order to elucidate the economies at work underneath the seemingly transgressive act. The essays selected include explorations of transgression in cinema, photography, art, law, music, philosophy, technology, and both classical and contemporary literature and drama. Professor Fred Botting's (co-author of Bataille and The Tarantinian Ethics) analysis of transgression from Bataille, to Baudrillard and Ballard compliments the collection's concerns about the status of transgression. Aside from fourteen critical essays on topics such as early-modern drama, George Bataille, J.G. Ballard, the female necrophilic, 'torture-porn' cinema, and the art of Robert Mapplethorpe and Salvador Dali, there is also a new discussion of transgression between novelist Iain Banks and Professor Roderick Watson (Emeritus at the University of Stirling). With its focus on the paradoxical nature of the impulse to transgress, as well at its wide-ranging historical and artistic concerns, Transgression and Its Limits is a landmark book in a rapidly developing scholarly field.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature



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Date Deposited:

07 Sep 2015 09:33

Last Modified:

19 Apr 2016 16:42


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