Strange Gourmets: Sophistication, Theory, and the Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

Theoretically sophisticated: How often has this term been used to distinguish a work of contemporary criticism, and what, exactly, does it mean? In Strange Gourmets, Joseph Litvak reclaims sophistication from its negative connotations and turns the spotlight on those who, even as they demonize sophistication, surreptitiously and extensively use it.
Though commonly thought of as a kind of worldliness at its best and an elitist snobbery at its worst, sophistication, Litvak reminds...
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Strange Gourmets: Sophistication, Theory, and the Novel

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Overview

Theoretically sophisticated: How often has this term been used to distinguish a work of contemporary criticism, and what, exactly, does it mean? In Strange Gourmets, Joseph Litvak reclaims sophistication from its negative connotations and turns the spotlight on those who, even as they demonize sophistication, surreptitiously and extensively use it.
Though commonly thought of as a kind of worldliness at its best and an elitist snobbery at its worst, sophistication, Litvak reminds us, remains tied to its earlier, if forgotten, meaning of "perversion"—a perversion whose avatars are the homosexual and the intellectual. Proceeding with his investigations from a specifically gay academic perspective, Litvak presents thoroughly inventive readings of novels by Austen, Thackeray, and Proust, and of theoretical works by Adorno and Barthes, each text epitomizing sophistication in one of its more familiar modes. Among the issues he explores are the ways in which these texts teach sophistication, the embarrassment that sophistication causes the sophisticated, and how the class politics of sophistication are inseparable from its sexual politics. Helping gay, queer, feminist, and other provocative critics to make the most of their bad publicity, Litvak mindfully celebrates sophistication’s economy of taste and pleasure.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Litvak has taken taste out of the closet and shows us why so many—especially those who consider themselves to be centered in cultural studies—do not like the taste of taste. This book is as smart as it is strangely delicious.”—Carol Mavor, author of Pleasures Taken

"One can hardly call Strange Gourmets a sophisticated book, since on the embarrassing subject of itself sophistication has always been too cool for words. No, one must call it a wildly sophisticated book, uncultivated enough, for all its fine intelligence, to speak whereof it knows. Like some brilliant chef who incorporates weeds into highly composed salads, the author means not to disown, but to parade the intimacy between sophistication (his own included) and rawer forms of taste, disgust, perversity. If his richly inventive cookery is more satisfying than sociological unmaskings that are as endless as they are futile, this is not least because, unlike them, it accords sophistication the respect owed to an appetite."—D. A. Miller

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822398233
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Series: Series Q
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 200
  • File size: 366 KB

Meet the Author

Joseph Litvak is Professor of English at Bowdoin College.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Delicacy and Disgust, Mourning and Melancholia, Privilege and Perversity: Pride and Prejudice 21
2 Bon Chic, Bon Genre: Sophistication and History in Northanger Abbey 33
3 Kiss Me, Stupid: Sophistication and Snobbery in Vanity Fair 55
4 Taste, Waste, Proust 77
5 Expensive Tastes: Adorno, Barthes, and Cultural Studies 112
Notes 151
Works Cited 171
Index 177
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