Formal Matters re-examines the postmodernist insistence that the body escapes signification by turning to an unexpected source: early and mid-century formalisms. Bringing together formalism’s endeavour to give shape to the ineffable with postmodernism’s discursive body, the book argues that embodiment—or the experience of the lived, corporeal body—is not what resists representation but what constitutes form.
Working at the intersection of formalist criticism, phenomenology, and body studies, Zoë Roth reassesses the relationship between embodiment and form in a range of modern European authors, including Primo Levi, Maurice Blanchot, Samuel Beckett, and Anne F. Garréta. Through close textual analysis, Formal Matters provides a new method for grasping embodied experience where it appears most attenuated and fragmented. It provides an original account of the body’s relationship to language and representation, while also reinvigorating formalist methods with political potential.
Roth, Z. (2022). Formal Matters: Embodied Experience in Modern Literature. Edinburgh University Press