In Black Women, Identity, and Cultural Theory, Kevin Everod Quashie explores the metaphor of the “girlfriend” as a new way of understanding three central concepts of cultural studies: self, memory, and language. He considers how the work of writers such as Toni Morrison, Ama Ata Aidoo, Dionne Brand, photographer Lorna Simpson, and many others, inform debates over the concept of identity. Quashie argues that these authors and artists replace the notion of a stable, singular identity with the concept of the self developing in a process both communal and perpetually fluid, a relationship that functions in much the same way that an adult woman negotiates with her girlfriend(s). He suggests that memory itself is corporeal, a literal body that is crucial to the process of becoming. Quashie also explores the problem language poses for the black woman artist and her commitment to a mastery that neither colonizes nor excludes.
The analysis throughout interacts with schools of thought such as psychoanalysis, postmodernism, and post-colonialism, but ultimately moves beyond these to propose a new cultural aesthetic, one that ultimately aims to center black women and their philosophies.
Winner, Modern Language Association Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies, 2006
Popular fiction, with its capacity for diversion, can mask important cultural observations within a framework that is often overlooked in the academic world. Works thought to be merely "escapist" can often be more seriously mined for revelations regarding the worlds they portray, especially those of the disenfranchised. As detective fiction has slowly earned critical respect, more authors from minority groups have chosen it as their medium. Chicana/o authors, previously reluctant to write in an underestimated genre that might further marginalize them, have only entered the world of detective fiction in the past two decades.
In this book, the first comprehensive study of Chicano/a detective fiction, Ralph E. Rodriguez examines the recent contributions to the genre by writers such as Rudolfo Anaya, Lucha Corpi, Rolando Hinojosa, Michael Nava, and Manuel Ramos. Their works reveal the struggles of Chicanas/os with feminism, homosexuality, familia, masculinity, mysticism, the nationalist subject, and U.S.-Mexico border relations. He maintains that their novels register crucial new discourses of identity, politics, and cultural citizenship that cannot be understood apart from the historical instability following the demise of the nationalist politics of the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In contrast to that time, when Chicanas/os sought a unified Chicano identity in order to effect social change, the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s have seen a disengagement from these nationalist politics and a new trend toward a heterogeneous sense of self. The detective novel and its traditional focus on questions of knowledge and identity turned out to be the perfect medium in which to examine this new self.
“A lively, lucid, and often extremely moving collection of essays.”—Sandra Gilbert, author of Wrongful Death: A Memoir
“Barolini’s essays moved me. Their commitment, their passion, their intelligence struck me very powerfully and made them among the most incisive essays on Italian-Americana, ethnicity, and diversity in literature that I have ever read.”—Fred Misurella, author of Understanding Milan Kundera: Public Events, Private Affairs and Short Time
Part memoir, part social commentary, and part literary criticism, Chiaroscuro is not only profoundly original but also of crucial importance in establishing the contours of an Italian-American tradition. Spanning a quarter century of work, the essays in Helen Barolini’s essays explore her personal search; literature as a formative influence; and the turning of the personal into the political. Included in Chiaroscuro is an updated re-introduction to Barolini’s American Book Award-winning collection, The Dream Book: An Anthology of Writings by Italian-American Women.
This dynamic, open-minded collection of essays responds to the issues raised by Werner Sollors when he argues against the rigidity of cultural pluralism, against the ethnic group-by-group segregation of American literature. Instead he calls for an openly transethinic recognition of cross-cultural interplays and connections among all so-called groups and their canons. In enthusiastic response to such issues, the contributors explore a variety of approaches to pluralism, multiculturalism, group identity, and the problematics of authenticity in literary texts and criticism both historically and currently.
The scholars in this civil, persuasive volume are at home in an international world that crosses linguistic, cultural, and national boundaries. They thus transcend the customary restrictions of earlier, relatively isolationist scholarship to form new, nonpolemical links among cultural identities. This relationship between oral modes of communal identity and writing in tribal cultures joins an examination of Houston Baker's discursive strategies. A consideration of ethnic humor in the writings of Zora Neale Hurston and Jerre Mangione and a discussion of Jean Toomer's racial persona offer striking contextualizations. Two contributors study discursive constructions of mestizaje in Chicano/a texts, followed by essays on cultural difference in Faulkner's Light in August and Roth's Call It Sleep.Finally, Werner Sollers's essay extends the interactions among all these energetic, nonjudgmental dialogues.
In this innovative analysis of canonical British novels, Campbell identifies a new literary device—the surrogate family—as a signal of cultural anxieties about young women’s changing relationship to matrimony across the long eighteenth century. By assembling chosen families rather than families of origin, Campbell convincingly argues, female protagonists in these works compensate for weak family ties, explore the world and themselves, prepare for idealized marriages, or sidestep marriage altogether. Tracing the evolution of this rich convention from the female characters in Defoe’s and Richardson’s fiction who are allowed some autonomy in choosing spouses, to the more explicitly feminist work of Haywood and Burney, in which connections between protagonists and their surrogate sisters and mothers can substitute for marriage itself, this book makes an ambitious intervention by upending a traditional trope—the model of the hierarchal family—ultimately offering a new lens through which to regard these familiar works.
When the hero of Defoe’s novel listens skeptically to this anecdote related by a French Roman Catholic priest, he little suspects that in less than a century the conversion of the Jews would become nothing short of a national project—not in France but in England. In this book, Michael Ragussis explores the phenomenon of Jewish conversion—the subject of popular enthusiasm, public scandal, national debate, and dubbed "the English madness" by its critics—in Protestant England from the 1790s through the 1870s.Moving beyond the familiar catalog of anti-Semitic stereotypes, Ragussis analyzes the rhetoric of conversion as it was reinvented by the English in sermons, stories for the young, histories of the Jews, memoirs by Jewish converts, and popular novels. Alongside these texts and the countertexts produced by English Jews, he situates such writers as Edgeworth, Scott, Disraeli, Arnold, Trollope, and Eliot within the debate over conversion and related issues of race, gender, and nation-formation. His work reveals how a powerful group of emergent cultural projects—including a revisionist tradition of the novel, the new science of ethnology, and the rewriting of European history—redefined English national identity in response to the ideology of conversion, the history of the Jews, and "the Jewish question."Figures of Conversion offers an entirely new way of regarding Jewish identity in nineteenth-century British culture and will be of importance not only to literary scholars but also to scholars of Judaic and religious studies, history, and cultural studies.
Taking on nothing less than the formation of modern genders and sexualities, Thomas A. King develops a history of the political and performative struggles that produced both normative and queer masculinities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The result is a major contribution to gender studies, gay studies, and theater and performance history.
The Gendering of Men, 1600–1750 traces the transition from a society based on alliance, which had subordinated all men, women, and boys to higher ranked males, to one founded in sexuality, through which men have embodied their claims to personal and political privacy. King proposes that the male body is a performative production marking men’s resistance to their subjection within patriarchy and sovereignty. Emphasizing that categories of gender must come under historical analysis, The Gendering of Men explores men’s particpation in an ongoing struggle for access to a universal manliness transcending other biological and social differentials.
This is volume one of two projected volumes.
This book of essays—carefully written by twenty-four authorities on their subjects—provides a deep understanding of and appreciation for the coherence, primacy, and importance of the search for identity in the divergent areas of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Bringing to the fore the voices of Maya authors and what their poetry tells us about resistance, sovereignty, trauma, and regeneration
In 1954, Guatemala suffered a coup d’etat, resulting in a decades-long civil war. During this period, Indigenous Mayans were subject to displacement, disappearance, and extrajudicial killing. Within the context of the armed conflict and the postwar period in Guatemala, K’iche’ Maya scholar Emil’ Keme identifies three historical phases of Indigenous Maya literary insurgency in which Maya authors use poetry to dignify their distinct cultural, political, gender, sexual, and linguistic identities.
Le Maya Q’atzij / Our Maya Word employs Indigenous and decolonial theoretical frameworks to critically analyze poetic works written by ten contemporary Maya writers from five different Maya nations in Iximulew/Guatemala. Similar to other Maya authors throughout colonial history, these authors and their poetry criticize, in their own creative ways, the continuing colonial assaults to their existence by the nation-state. Throughout, Keme displays the decolonial potentialities and shortcomings proposed by each Maya writer, establishing a new and productive way of understanding Maya living realities and their emancipatory challenges in Iximulew/Guatemala.
This innovative work shows how Indigenous Maya poetics carries out various processes of decolonization and, especially, how Maya literature offers diverse and heterogeneous perspectives about what it means to be Maya in the contemporary world.
The first in-depth analysis of some of the most important epic poems of the Spanish Golden Age, Myth and Identity in the Epic of Imperial Spain breathes new life into five of these long- neglected texts. Elizabeth Davis demonstrates that the epic must not be overlooked, for doing so creates a significant gap in one's ability to appraise not only the cultural practice of the imperial age, but also the purest expression of its ideology.
Davis's study focuses on heroic poetry written from 1569 to 1611, including Alonso de Ercilla's La Araucana, undeniably the most significant epic poem of its time. Also included are Diego de Hojeda's La Christiada, Juan Rufo's La Austriada,. Lope de Vega's Jerusalén Conquistada, and Cristóbal de Virués's Historia del Monserrate.
Examining these epics as the major site for the construction of cultural identities and Renaissance nationalist myths, Davis analyzes the means by which the epic constructs a Spanish sense of self. Because this sense of identity is not easily susceptible to direct representation, it is often derived in opposition to an "other," which serves to reaffirm Spanish cultural superiority. The Spanish Christian caballeros are almost always pitted against Amerindians, Muslims, Jews, or other adversaries portrayed as backward or heathen for their cultural and ethnic differences.
The pro-Castilian elite of sixteenth-century Spain faced the daunting task of constructing unity at home in the process of expansion and conquest abroad, yet ethnic and regional differences in the Iberian Peninsula made the creation of an imperial identity particularly difficult. The epic, as Davis shows, strains to convey the overriding image of a Spain that appears more unified than the Spanish empire ever truly was.
An important reexamination of the Golden Age canon, Myth and Identity in the Epic of Imperial Spain brings a new twist to the study of canon formation. While Davis does not ignore more traditional approaches to the literary text, she does apply recent theories, such as deconstruction and feminist criticism, to these poems, resulting in an innovative examination of the material.
Confronting such issues as canonicity, gender, the relationship between literature and Golden Age culture, and that between art and power, this publication offers scholars a new perspective for assessing Golden Age and Transatlantic studies.
Contributors. Martha Cutter, Katharine Nicholson Ings, Samira Kawash, Adrian Piper, Valerie Rohy, Marion Rust, Julia Stern, Gayle Wald, Ellen M. Weinauer, Elizabeth Young
The book revisits such iconic moments as Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s protest at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and Elizabeth Alexander’s reading at the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama. Quashie also examines such landmark texts as Gwendolyn Brooks’s Maud Martha, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Toni Morrison’s Sula to move beyond the emphasis on resistance, and to suggest that concepts like surrender, dreaming, and waiting can remind us of the wealth of black humanity.
Now in Paper!
As the most widely read Roman poem in antiquity, the Aeneid was indelibly burned into the memories of generations of Roman school children. In this book, author Yasmin Syed analyzes the formative influence the poem exerted on its broad audience of educated Romans. Syed analyzes Roman pedagogy and reading practices as well as ancient beliefs about the powerful influence of poetry. Her study considers these cultural components together with the aspects of identity that define the Aeneid’s characters. By doing so, Syed shows how Vergil’s ancient audiences saw themselves—their experiences, goals, and values—reflected in the poem and guided by it. In particular, Syed’s treatment of gender and ethnicity brings to light the key role of Vergil’s poem in the formation of Romanness.
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