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Fine Art for 39 Cents

Marjorie Garber: Tupperising America, 13 April 2000

Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America 
by Alison Clarke.
Smithsonian, 241 pp., £15.95, November 1999, 1 56098 827 4
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... Plastic! Plastic! The plastic – that frightful word gives me gooseflesh.’ This is Baudelaire, wickedly ventriloquising the neoclassical obsession with ‘the immoderate love of form’ in an essay called ‘The Pagan School’, published in 1852. ‘Plastic’ in this sense was a key criterion of formalist art: ‘plastic art’, ‘plastic merit’ and ‘plastic beauty’ were high compliments ...

Spitting, Sneezing, Smearing

Marjorie Garber: Messy Business, 10 August 2000

Cooking with Mud: The Idea of Mess in 19th-Century Art and Fiction 
by David Trotter.
Oxford, 340 pp., £35, February 2000, 0 19 818503 0
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... Once, recycling was a way of life, conducted without civic ordinances, highway beautification statutes, adopt-a-motorway programmes or special bins for paper, glass and metal. Until the mid-19th century, rag-pickers plied their trade in European and American cities. Quilts were made from clothing scraps; rugs (now, like the quilts, collectors’ items) were made from rags; soap was made at home from wood ashes and grease, tallow candles from animal fat, buttons (as well as dice and dominoes) from bones ...

I’ll be back

Marjorie Garber: Sequels, 19 August 1999

Part Two: Reflections on the Sequel 
edited by Paul Budra and Betty Schellenberg.
Toronto, 217 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 8020 0915 8
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... She would, if asked, tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of her people,’ Jane Austen’s nephew wrote in his Memoir of his aunt. In this traditionary way we learned that Miss Steele never succeeded in catching the Doctor; that Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary obtained nothing higher than one of her uncle Philips’ clerks, and was content to be considered a star in the society of Meriton; that the ‘considerable sum’ Mrs Norris gave William Price was one pound; that Mr Woodhouse survived his daughter’s marriage, and kept her and Mr Knightley from settling at Donwell, about two years; and that the letters placed by Frank Churchill before Jane Fairfax, which she swept away unread, contained the word ‘pardon ...

Heart and Hoof

Marjorie Garber: Seabiscuit, 4 October 2001

Seabiscuit: The Making of a Legend 
by Laura Hillenbrand.
Fourth Estate, 399 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 1 84115 091 6
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... Let us consider the names given to horses – not ordinary horses . . . but racehorses,’ writes Claude Lévi-Strauss, opening an excursus on equine onomastics in The Savage Mind. The names of thoroughbreds are ‘rigorously individualised’ and ‘rarely, if ever, describe them’. What counts is the way they can be seen to derive from the horse’s pedigree ...

Das Nuffa Dat and BigGloria3

Elaine Showalter: Up and Down the Academic Ladder, 1 November 2001

Academic Instincts 
by Marjorie Garber.
Princeton, 187 pp., £11.95, February 2001, 9780691049700
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Postmodern Pooh 
by Frederick Crews.
North Point, 175 pp., $22, October 2001, 0 86547 626 8
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... with professors ‘teaching the conflicts’ as they claw their way up the academic ladder. For Marjorie Garber, William R. Kenan Jr Professor of English at Harvard, the university, if not a utopia, is nonetheless a satisfying environment where intellectual controversy reigns. Garber believes that academic jargon is ...

Four in a Bed

Wendy Doniger, 8 February 1996

Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life 
by Marjorie Garber.
Hamish Hamilton, 608 pp., £25, January 1996, 9780241134481
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... for one person. At stake in the argument between these two definitions is the larger question, in Marjorie Garber’s words, ‘of whether any sexuality has reference to subject or object’, whether gender entails not merely an identification with one sex but the desire for someone of the other sex. The first, botanical sort of bisexuality is often ...

Having it both Ways

Adam Phillips, 5 November 1992

Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety 
by Marjorie Garber.
Routledge, 443 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 415 90072 7
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... sense and psychoanalysis tell us, what we think we know, what we imagine the signs are telling us. Marjorie Garber suggests, in this exhilarating book, that with the idea of fixed sexual identity, of being too knowingly male or female – terms, she remarks archly, ‘that overwhelmingly proclaim their own inadequacy’ – we may have got ourselves into ...

The Straight and the Bent

Elaine Showalter, 23 April 1992

Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault 
by Jonathan Dollimore.
Oxford, 388 pp., £35, August 1991, 0 19 811225 4
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Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories 
by Diana Fuss.
Routledge, 432 pp., £40, March 1992, 0 415 90236 3
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... and identity politics. Feminist theorists including Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Marjorie Garber and Diana Fuss have called for more fluid work on questions of sexual difference which will address what Butler calls ‘gender trouble’. A number of recent studies focus on the radical potential of figures or practices at the borders of ...

Toe-Lining

Frank Kermode, 22 January 1998

Shakespeare’s Troy: Drama, Politics and the Translation of Empire 
by Heather James.
Cambridge, 283 pp., £37.50, December 1997, 0 521 59223 2
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... author, among other adventurous works, of Sodometrics: Renaissance Texts, Modern Sexualities, Marjorie Garber, a celebrated, good-humoured and energetic advocate of bisexuality, and Jonathan Dollimore, an English critic who shares some of these interests. Volumes so far published in the series include Men in Women’s Clothing, Anxious ...

Menswear

Philip Booth, 20 July 1995

Drag: A History of Female Impersonation in the Performing Arts 
by Roger Baker.
Cassell, 284 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 304 32836 7
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... to criticise Baker and his team for leaving the theorising to cultural studies writers such as Marjorie Garber, but I believe that gay men have a particular contribution to make, and we shouldn’t be afraid of making it. In trying to bring us up to date with the latest undigested examples of cross-dressing, the book seems out of date already, with a ...

Icicles by Cynthia

Michael Wood: Ghosts, 2 January 2020

Romantic Shades and Shadows 
by Susan J. Wolfson.
Johns Hopkins, 272 pp., £50, August 2018, 978 1 4214 2554 2
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... and Wolfson evokes an interesting ambiguity in a remark by Paul de Man and its citation by Marjorie Garber. De Man writes of ‘making the death speak’, which in Garber’s quotation becomes ‘making the dead speak’. As Wolfson notes, the quotation has its logic and perhaps the original was a misprint. But ...

A Frog’s Life

James Wood: Coetzee’s Confessions, 23 October 2003

Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 233 pp., £14.99, September 2003, 0 436 20616 1
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... comes out of a desire to save my soul.’ Four scholars were invited to reply to Coetzee – Marjorie Garber, Peter Singer, Barbara Smuts and Wendy Doniger – and all of them struggled in different ways to read his meanings. Singer seemed to suggest that Coetzee’s device was fundamentally evasive. ‘It’s a marvellous device, really. Costello ...

Seizing the Senses

Derek Jarrett, 17 February 2000

Edmund Burke. Vol. I: 1730-84 
by F.P. Lock.
Oxford, 564 pp., £75, January 1999, 0 19 820676 3
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... the King into a condition which drew upon him the pity of the meanest peasant in his kingdom. What Marjorie Garber said last year in the LRB about sequels, that they sometimes have to undertake what Freud called ‘secondary revision’, a rearrangement of what we thought or imagined so that it fits what we now need to think and imagine, can equally well ...

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