The Robe of Samuel: Difficulty and Recalcitrance in Biblical Narrative
Like secular stories, Biblical narratives containdifficulties that can be overcome by reinterpreting the language,recontextualizing the social background or by reconfiguring the narrativeelements, but there are also narratives that resist being naturalized in theseways. My study discusses five Biblical narratives that are recalcitrantin five different ways, although all of them defy interpretation in ways thatseem to intentionally oppose the skill of the reader. A concludingchapter discusses the ways in which Biblical narratives, recalcitrant andotherwise, because of their assigned value within confessional religions, havebeen reinscribed so as to make tolerable for the reading societies the thematicweight and moral values of the stories. Recalcitrant and difficultnarratives—including narratives that present only minor difficulties–have beenadded to or subtracted from, or otherwise altered, refocused, reinscribed asallegory or fable, so as to keep the “eternal” truths of the Bibleconsistent with the social systems and ideology of the reading societies.
My teaching interests are (1) literary theory, especially theory of narrative; (2) literature of the “long eighteenth century” (1660-1832), particularly the novel; (3) narrative, with special interests in Biblical narrative, the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century, film narrative (both fictional and nonfictional), and issues pertaining to the adaptation of narrative texts across media (e.g., fiction into film or graphic novel).
The following is a list of selected publications.
Fable’s End: Completeness and Closure in RhetoricalFiction. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1974.
Narrative / Theory. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1996.
The Progress of Romance: Literary Historiography and theGothic Novel. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1996.
Ideology and Form in Eighteenth-Century Literature. Lubbock:Texas Tech University Press, 1999.
Falling into Theory: Conflicting Views on Reading Literature.Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2/e, 2000.
The Critical Tradition: Classical Texts and ContemporaryTrends. Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 3/e 2006.
Fact, Fiction and Form: Essays of Ralph Rader (ed., withJames Phelan). Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2011
Selected Recent (last 15 years) Articles and Book Chapters
“Midrash and Mashal: Difficulty in the Blessing ofEsau.” Narrative 5 (October 1996): 253-264.
“A Name by Any Other Rose: Umberto Eco and theSemiotics of Detection.” Reading Eco, ed. Rocco Paluzzi (Bloomington:Indiana University Press, 1996), 227-47. Reprinted in Contemporary LiteraryCriticism (Gale Cengage: 2008).
“Farewell My Concubine: The Difficult, the Stubborn,and the Outrage of Gibeah.” Agendas for Midrash Study in the 21st Century,ed. Marc Lee Raphael (Williamsburg, VA: William and Mary Press, 1999) 101-122.
“Narrativity and Stasis in Martin Rowson’s TristramShandy,” The Shandean 11 (1999-2000): 70-91.
“Monument or Tombstone,” Narrative 9, iii(October 2001) 346-351.
“Your Cheatin’ Art: Double Dealing in Cinematic Narrative.”Narrative 13:1 (January 2005): 11-28.
“Genre, Repetition, Temporal Ordering: Some Aspects ofBiblical Narratology,” The Blackwell Companion to Narrative Theory, ed. JamesPhelan and Peter Rabinowitz (New York and London: Blackwell, 2005), 285-98.Reprinted, translated into Mandarin, Beijing: Peking University Press, 2008.
“Keeping Company in Hollywood: Toward an Ethics of theNon-fiction Film,” in Narrative, 15:2 (May 2007): 140-66.
“Robert Alter and The Resistance to Theory” Expositions,2:2 (2008): 213-222.
“The Literary-Theoretical Contribution of Ralph W. Rader,”with James Phelan. Narrative 18:1 (January 2010), 73-90.
“The Chicago School.” The Wylie-BlackwellEncyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory, ed. Gregory Castle et al.New York and London: Blackwell, 2010, 108-118.
“The Novel,” in The Classical Tradition, ed. AnthonyGrafton, et al (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2010), 641-643.
“The Gothic Novel,” in The Oxford Handbook ofEighteenth-Century Fiction, ed. Alan Downey (New York and London: Oxford UP,forthcoming 2011.
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