Arenas of Creative Contest

Edited by Janet Lungstrum & Elizabeth Sauer

Subjects: Aesthetics
Series: SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
Paperback : 9780791434123, 359 pages, September 1997
Hardcover : 9780791434116, 359 pages, September 1997

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Table of contents

Creative Agonistics: An Introduction

Janet Lungstrum and Elizabeth Sauer


Contests in Cultural Philosophy

Homer's Contest

Friedrich Nietzsche (translated by Jordan Dieterich and Janet Lungstrum)

Cultural Agonistics: Nietzsche, the Greeks, Eternal Recurrence

Benjamin C. Sax

Closing the Eye: Hegel, Derrida, and the Closure of Philosophy

Arkady Plotnitsky

Walter Benjamin: The Prophet's War against Prophecy

Marcus Paul Bullock


Psychoanalytic and Racial Conflicts

Interpretation Interminable: Agonistics in Psychoanalysis

Volney P. Gay

The Institutionalization of Conflict as an Interpretative Strategy in Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams

Lorna Martens

The Jewish Genius: Freud and the Jewishness of the Creative

Sander L. Gilman

Criminality and Poe's Orangutan: The Question of Race in Detection

Nancy A. Harrowitz


Agonal Aesthetics and Narrative Theory

"A Chain of Utmost Potency": On the Agon and the Creative Impulse

John A. McCarthy

The Partial Song of Satanic Anti-Creation: Milton's Discourses of the Divided Self

Elizabeth Sauer

The Penman and the Postal-Carrier: Preordained Rivalry in Joyce's Finnegans Wake

Andrew Schmitz

The Gender of Fiction: Henry James's "Backward Glance" at the Agon of Composition

Cecile Mazzucco-Than


Agons of Gender and the Body

The Muse Abused

Lisabeth Duringv The Sportive Agon in Ancient and Modern Times

John Hoberman

Baudrillard, After Hours , and the Postmodern Suppression of Socio-Sexual Conflict

Cynthia Willett

Agonal Politics in Space and Time: Arendt and Le Guin on World Creation

George A. Trey

Notes on Contributors


Focuses on a very significant psycho-cultural concept (that of "agonistics" or "contestatory creativity") with ramifications in several areas of the postmodern debate: cultural philosophy, psychologies of race, gender and the body, and narratology.


This book examines the ambiguities inherent in the concept of the agon as a motivating, conflictual force behind creative and social expression. The notion of agonistics extends far beyond the literary fame lent it by Harold Bloom to embrace all aspects of culture. The editors blend theoretical sophistication with an interdisciplinary approach and reposit the agon in a new, broad context for postmodern inquiry. Taking their inspiration from Friedrich Nietzsche's essay "Homer's Contest," Lungstrum and Sauer trace the evolution of the agon: from its vital function in ancient Greece, through modernity, and onward.

Janet Lungstrum is Assistant Professor of German Literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Elizabeth Sauer is Associate Professor of English Literature at Brock University. She is the author of Barbarous Dissonance and Images of Voice in Milton's Epics.


"The editors have staked out the domain of agonistics in their Introduction, tracing its various definitions from Nietzsche through Freud and Wittgenstein, to Derrida, Bloom, and Lyotard. They have also structured the individual analysis around four, well-balanced thematic focuses that broach agonistic creativity from a philosophic, psychoanalytic, narratological, and socio-sexual point of view. These focuses are to a large extent complementary, establishing a continous intertextual dialogue across the thematic separations. " — Marcel Cornis-Pope, Virginia Commonwealth University