Rocky Mountain Review 
of Language and Literature

Volume 65, Number 2 
Fall 2011


The Threat of the Gothic Patriarchy in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds

Kyle William Bishop 
Southern Utah University

Most scholars focus on the ambiguous meaning of the birds in Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film The Birds, but this avian threat is little more than a MacGuffin, a catalyst used to further the film's real narrative. Rather than being a supernatural thriller, The Birdsactually represents a dark exploration of the modern American Gothic: although the birds indeed prove a physical danger to Melanie's safety, she is ultimately destroyed as an independent subject by the imposing power of the  Brenner family, a patriarchal structure metonymically represented by the ancestral house and its looming portrait of Frank Brenner.

"Strange" Foods, Taboos, and German Tastes

Heike Henderson 
Boise State University

This article examines three contemporary German reports of encounters with "strange" and "taboo' food: a newspaper article about the perils of eating in China, a biographical essay in which contemporary German novelist Birgit Vanderbeke discusses historical changes in the culinary habits of postwar Germany, and a rather unusual cookbook by the same author. These texts provide a snapshot of contemporary German sensibilities regarding food, and they allow us to gain insights about the cultural specificity of taste, historical shifts in our culinary value judgments, and the impact of culinary globalization.

From Body Composition to Body Revision 
in First-Year Composition Classrooms

Deborah Harris-Moore 
University of California, Santa Barbara

The field of writing and rhetoric has, for a long time, been engaged in pedagogical practices that reject the ancient link between mind and body as a matter of legacy; even the terms writing and rhetoric are often, like mind and body, considered separate fields in the academy. This article argues that in composition class, where students are introduced to academic discourse, analysis, and research methods, the body can serve as a starting point for discussing various critical topics relevant to every student in the class. In the curricular space of a first-year composition class, instructors have the freedom to focus more generally on bodies as an analytic category instead of as highly specialized categories of identity, which serves as a less threatening and equally effective approach for many students. Bodies naturally initiate discussions of multiple identities, and a body-focused composition classroom enhances the freshman composition project of preparing students for the critical thinking and writing required by other disciplines.

The Evaluative Function as Part of the Hidden Pragmatic Meaning 
of Expressions in English and Spanish

Laura Alba-Juez 
National Distance Education University (Madrid) 
Elena Martínez-Caro 
Universidad Complutense de Madrid

In an attempt to demonstrate that a corpus-based analysis can reveal aspects of the evaluative function that native speakers' intuitions most often fail to pick up, we analyze the pragmatic meaning that is associated with the use of the expressions "No wonder" and "I wouldn't be surprised (if/to)" in English and their Spanish equivalents: "No me extraña (que)" and "No me sorprendería (que) / No me extrañaría (que)." Previous studies have pointed out that a given word or expression can take on an association with the positive or the negative, and that this association can be exploited by the users of the language in question to express evaluative meaning covertly, a phenomenon which has been given the name of "semantic prosody" by some authors. Following these scholars, we examine the evaluative function of these five expressions in English and Spanish and argue that even when -- from the strictly semantic point of view -- they do not have an inherent negative connotation, they occur most frequently in the context of other words or phrases that are predominantly negative in their evaluative orientation.

Davis Award

Mary Shelley's Mathilda and the Struggle 
for Female Narrative Subjectivity

Melina Moore 
City University of New York

This article departs from the psychobiographical approach to Mary Shelley's dark incest novella Mathilda, engaging with recent feminist readings that interpret Shelley's heroine as a self-constructed actress who feigns passivity to gain empowerment. This interpretation of Mathilda as powerful actress instead of a helpless victim attempts to recuperate her as a positive figure of female agency. However, while Mathilda illuminates obstacles to female self-expression, it also critiques the ideology of a society that rewards contrivance and female passivity. Through readings of Mathilda's narrative voice and the individuals who threaten it, the article examines the heroine not as a biographical representation of Shelley, but as a carefully constructed character who allows us to discern the author's uneasiness about the sacrifices necessary to secure female narrative autonomy in her society.


Teaching Chicana/o Literature in Community College 
with Ana Castillo's So Far from God

Danizete Martínez 
University of New Mexico, Valencia

This article explores the importance of teaching ethnic literature at community colleges, and considers the social importance of Ana Castillo's So Far From God (1993) to Southwest learners. In a time when minority education programs are being threatened by budget cuts and are rapidly being displaced/replaced by more fiscally "lucrative" certificates and departments, Castillo's novel demonstrates the contemporary relevance and cultural currency of traditional folklore to small communities.


Catlin's Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny, and the Ethics of Nature, by John Hausdoerffer 
Reviewer: Susan Savage Lee

Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives, ed. Susan Sleeper-Smith 
Reviewer: Susan Lee

For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front, by Celia Malone Kingsbury 
Reviewer: Julianne Newmark

Representing Atrocity in Taiwan: The 2/28 Incident and White Terror in Fiction and Film, by Silvia Lin 
Reviewer: Christopher Lupke

Lost Homelands: Ruin and Reconstruction in the 20th-Century Southwest, by Audrey Goodman 
Reviewer: Theda Wrede

Welcome to the Suck: Narrating the American Soldier's Experience in Iraq, by Stacey Peebles 
Reviewer: Geoffrey A. Wright

Global Matters: The Transnational Turn and Literary Studies, by Paul Jay 
Reviewer: Ana Isabel Carballal

Puisque mon coeur est mort, by Maïssa Bey 
Reviewer: Florina Matu