Mocking Bird Technologies: The Poetics of Parroting, Mimicry, and Other Starling Tropes

Mocking Bird Technologies: The Poetics of Parroting, Mimicry, and Other Starling Tropes

Mocking Bird Technologies: The Poetics of Parroting, Mimicry, and Other Starling Tropes

Mocking Bird Technologies: The Poetics of Parroting, Mimicry, and Other Starling Tropes

Synopsis

Mocking Bird Technologies brings together a range of perspectives to offer an extended meditation on bird mimicry in literature: the way birds mimic humans, the way humans mimic birds, and the way mimicry of any kind involves technologies that extend across as well as beyond languages and species. The essays examine the historical, poetic, and semiotic problem of mimesis exemplified both by the imitative behavior of parrots, starlings, and other mocking birds, and by the poetic trope of such birds in a range of literary and philological traditions.

Drawing from a cross-section of traditional periods and fields in literary studies (18th-century studies, romantic studies, early American studies, 20th-century studies, and postcolonial studies), the collection offers new models for combining comparative and global studies of literature and culture.

Excerpt

This volume offers an extended meditation on bird mimicry. in a set of original essays on the comparative and global poetics of bird mimicry, illustrated by verbal and visual specimens, the collection embraces a range of theoretical and critical perspectives. the essays examine the historical, poetic, and semiotic problem of mimesis exemplified both by the imitative behavior of starlings, parrots, and other mocking birds and by the poetic trope of such birds in a range of literary and philological traditions. the volume has its origin in a series of talks and discussions organized for the 2013 meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association. the theme of the acla conference—“Global Positioning Systems”—playfully highlighted the increasing emphasis in literary and cultural studies on technology and on the “global,” as well as the interrelation between the two. At the heart of this theme lies a challenge to traditional comparative literature. With its disciplinary origins in nineteenth-century European comparative philology, traditional comparative literature aligned peoples with languages, and languages with nations. Contemporary “global” studies, by contrast, emphasize processes of migration, mobility, and circulation while turning away from human language to consider systems or networks across oceans, seas, and deserts, rather than between nations, continents, and civilizations. in responding to the new “global positioning” of comparative literature as a discipline, the panel discovered a literary topos that simultaneously embodies the new “global” turn and reaches back to the roots of the old comparative and linguistic disciplinary model. in further developing this topic to produce the current volume, we have sought to emphasize neither one nor the other of these poles—neither the bird’s-eye view of the global nor the area-specific poetics of literary birdsong—but rather to do justice to both by exploring their overlapping and interrelated relevance. Taken together, the essays offer new models for combining comparative and global studies of literature and culture.

Mocking Bird Technologies focuses on techniques of art, artifice, and paralinguistic performance in literary theory and practice. Each of the . . .

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