Maria Remarque

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“But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony?” –All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), Maria Remarque

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Bakhtin on laughter

“Everything that is truly great must include an element of laughter. Otherwise it becomes threatening, terrible, or pompous: in any case, it is limited. Laughter lifts the barrier and clears the path.”  -Mikhail Bakhtin

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Steven Greenblatt’s “Self-fashioning”

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Self-fashioning is a term coined by the literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt (1980) to describe how middle-class individuals in Renaissance England constructed and presented their selfhood through the manipulation of social standards, norms, and products. His analysis is based on the premise that “there is in the early modern period a change in the intellectual, social, psychological, and aesthetic structures that govern the generation of identities” (1980:1). According to Greenblatt, this change, in turn, produced “an increased self-consciousness about the fashioning of human identity as a manipulable, artful process” (1980:2). In his study of Renaissance self-fashioning, Greenblatt employs a methodology that includes both literary works and the ‘real’ lives of selected Renaissance cultural and political figures, arguing that 

social actions are themselves always embedded in systems of public signification, always grasped, even by their makers, in acts of interpretation, while the words that constitute the works of literature that we discuss here are by their very nature the manifest assurance of a similar embededness. (1980:5)