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Afrindian Fictions
Diaspora, Race, and National Desire in South Africa
Pallavi Rastogi
The Ohio State University Press, 2008
In the first published book-length study of Indian fiction in South Africa, Pallavi Rastogi demonstrates that Indians desire South African citizenship in the fullest sense of the word, a longing for inclusion that is asserted through an “Afrindian” identity. Afrindian Fictions: Diaspora, Race, and National Desire in South Africa examines Afrindian identity and blurs the racial binary of black and white interaction in South African studies as well as unsettles the East-West paradigm of migration dominant in South Asian diaspora studies.
 
While offering incisive analyses of the work of the most important South African Indian writers today—Ahmed Essop, Farida Karodia, Achmat Dangor, Imraan Coovadia, and Praba Moodley among others—the author also places South African Indian fiction within broader literary traditions. Rastogi’s project of recovery shines a light on the rich but neglected literature by South African Indians. The book closes with interviews conducted with six key South African Indian writers. Here the authors not only reflect on their own writing but also comment on many of the issues raised in the book itself, particularly the role of Indians in South Africa today, and the status of South African Indian writing.
 
Afrindian Fictions is a valuable introduction to South African Indian literature as well as a major interrogation of some of the foundational notions of post-colonial literary studies.
 
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The American Counterfeit
Authenticity and Identity in American Literature and Culture
Mary McAleer Balkun
University of Alabama Press, 2006
Fakery, authenticity, and identity in American literature and culture at the turn of the 20th century
 
Focusing on texts written between 1880 and 1930, Mary McAleer Balkun explores the concept of the “counterfeit,” both in terms of material goods and invented identities, and the ways that the acquisition of objects came to define individuals in American culture and literature. Counterfeiting is, in one sense, about the creation of something that appears authentic—an invented self, a museum display, a forged work of art. But the counterfeit can also be a means by which the authentic is measured, thereby creating our conception of the true or real.
 
When counterfeiting is applied to individual identities, it fosters fluidity in social boundaries and the games of social climbing and passing that have come to be representative of American culture: the Horatio Alger story, the con man or huckster, the social climber, the ethnically ambiguous.
 
Balkun provides new readings of traditional texts such as The Great Gatsby, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The House of Mirth, as well as readings of less-studied texts, such as Walt Whitman’s Specimen Days and Nella Larsen’s Passing. In each of these texts, Balkun locates the presence of manufactured identities and counterfeit figures, demonstrating that where authenticity and consumerism intersect, the self becomes but another commodity to be promoted, sold, and eventually consumed.
 
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Beyond the Binary
Reconstructing Cultural Identity In a Multicultural Context
Powell, Timothy
Rutgers University Press, 1999

"Beyond the Binary offers a coherently presented collection of uniformly strong essays that speak to what is perhaps the most widely discussed, contested and conflicted topic in the study of US culture. It joins the growing body of work that seeks to move beyond identity politics and racial essentialism to formulate racial identity as a more complex series of social, cultural and political gestures." -Priscilla Wald, author of Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form and Constituting Americans

Cultural studies have reached a theoretical impasse. As scholars continue to topple the previously entrenched concept of Eurocentrism, this field has fragmented into works covering many separate cultural enclaves. In the first wave of this "post-Eurocentric" scholarship, a binary model ensued, using the designations of "Self" and "Other:" i.e., black/white, gay/straight. This model, however, also has found disfavor. As a result, recent scholarship has focused on a single group studied in isolation.

What is needed is a new critical phase of reconstruction that will bring discussion of these disparate cultural enclaves back into a more organized, critical sphere. Researchers must have the necessary conceptual tools so they can study the ways in which cultures overlap, intersect, or else violently conflict with one another.

Beyond the Binary: Reconstructing Cultural Identity in a Multicultural Context addresses this theoretical impasse by proposing new critical models that fully engage the dilemmas posed by multiculturalism. Rather than becoming entangled in the polarizing rhetoric of the culture wars, these essays are firmly grounded in the lived perplexities of specific historical moments. One piece, for example, considers the cultural identity of "freaks" exhibited in P. T. Barnum's circus, the contested place of hemophiliacs within Queer Nation, and "white" working-class musicians who proudly proclaim themselves to be "black lesbians."

Beyond the Binary is meant to be read in its entirety as a many-voiced narrative dedicated to bringing the divisions within cultural studies back into contact with one another. By doing so, Powell ushers in a new era of multicultural analysis that recognizes the historical existence of racism, yet also acknowledges the dynamic fluidity of cultural identity.

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Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being
Kevin Quashie
Duke University Press, 2021
In Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being, Kevin Quashie imagines a Black world in which one encounters Black being as it is rather than only as it exists in the shadow of anti-Black violence. As such, he makes a case for Black aliveness even in the face of the persistence of death in Black life and Black study. Centrally, Quashie theorizes aliveness through the aesthetics of poetry, reading poetic inhabitance in Black feminist literary texts by Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Toni Morrison, and Evie Shockley, among others, showing how their philosophical and creative thinking constitutes worldmaking. This worldmaking conceptualizes Blackness as capacious, relational beyond the normative terms of recognition—Blackness as a condition of oneness. Reading for poetic aliveness, then, becomes a means of exploring Black being rather than nonbeing and animates the ethical question “how to be.” In this way, Quashie offers a Black feminist philosophy of being, which is nothing less than a philosophy of the becoming of the Black world.
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Black Women, Identity, and Cultural Theory
(Un)Becoming the Subject
Kevin Everod Quashie
Rutgers University Press, 2004

 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.

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Blood Lines
Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature
By Sheila Marie Contreras
University of Texas Press, 2008

2009 — Runner-up, Modern Language Association Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies

Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature examines a broad array of texts that have contributed to the formation of an indigenous strand of Chicano cultural politics. In particular, this book exposes the ethnographic and poetic discourses that shaped the aesthetics and stylistics of Chicano nationalism and Chicana feminism. Contreras offers original perspectives on writers ranging from Alurista and Gloria Anzaldúa to Lorna Dee Cervantes and Alma Luz Villanueva, effectively marking the invocation of a Chicano indigeneity whose foundations and formulations can be linked to U.S. and British modernist writing.

By highlighting intertextualities such as those between Anzaldúa and D. H. Lawrence, Contreras critiques the resilience of primitivism in the Mexican borderlands. She questions established cultural perspectives on "the native," which paradoxically challenge and reaffirm racialized representations of Indians in the Americas. In doing so, Blood Lines brings a new understanding to the contradictory and richly textured literary relationship that links the projects of European modernism and Anglo-American authors, on the one hand, and the imaginary of the post-revolutionary Mexican state and Chicano/a writers, on the other hand.

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Blood Narrative
Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts
Chadwick Allen
Duke University Press, 2002
Blood Narrative is a comparative literary and cultural study of post-World War II literary and activist texts by New Zealand Maori and American Indians—groups who share much in their responses to European settler colonialism. Chadwick Allen reveals the complex narrative tactics employed by writers and activists in these societies that enabled them to realize unprecedented practical power in making both their voices and their own sense of indigeneity heard.
Allen shows how both Maori and Native Americans resisted the assimilationist tide rising out of World War II and how, in the 1960s and 1970s, they each experienced a renaissance of political and cultural activism and literary production that culminated in the formation of the first general assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. He focuses his comparison on two fronts: first, the blood/land/memory complex that refers to these groups' struggles to define indigeneity and to be freed from the definitions of authenticity imposed by dominant settler cultures. Allen's second focus is on the discourse of treaties between American Indians and the U.S. government and between Maori and Great Britain, which he contends offers strong legal and moral bases from which these indigenous minorities can argue land and resource rights as well as cultural and identity politics.
With its implicit critique of multiculturalism and of postcolonial studies that have tended to neglect the colonized status of indigenous First World minorities, Blood Narrative will appeal to students and scholars of literature, American and European history, multiculturalism, postcolonialism, and comparative cultural studies.
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Borrowed Voices
Writing and Racial Ventriloquism in the Jewish American Imagination
Glaser, Jennifer
Rutgers University Press, 2016
In the decades following World War II, many American Jews sought to downplay their difference, as a means of assimilating into Middle America. Yet a significant minority, including many prominent Jewish writers and intellectuals, clung to their ethnic difference, using it to register dissent with the status quo and act as spokespeople for non-white America. 
 
In this provocative book, Jennifer Glaser examines how racial ventriloquism became a hallmark of Jewish-American fiction, as Jewish writers asserted that their own ethnicity enabled them to speak for other minorities. Rather than simply condemning this racial ventriloquism as a form of cultural appropriation or commending it as an act of empathic imagination, Borrowed Voices offers a nuanced analysis of the technique, judiciously assessing both its limitations and its potential benefits.  Glaser considers how the practice of racial ventriloquism has changed over time, examining the books of many well-known writers, including Bernard Malamud, Cynthia Ozick, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon, Saul Bellow, and many others.  
 
Bringing Jewish studies into conversation with critical race theory, Glaser also opens up a dialogue between Jewish-American literature and other forms of media, including films, magazines, and graphic novels. Moreover, she demonstrates how Jewish-American fiction can help us understand the larger anxieties about ethnic identity, authenticity, and authorial voice that emerged in the wake of the civil rights movement.
 
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Chica Lit
Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century
Tace Hedrick
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015
Winner, 2016 ALA-Choice Outstanding Academic Title

In Chica Lit: Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century, Tace Hedrick illuminates how discourses of Americanization, ethnicity, gender, class, and commodification shape the genre of “chica lit,” popular fiction written by Latina authors with Latina characters. She argues that chica lit is produced and marketed in the same ways as contemporary romance and chick lit fiction, and aimed at an audience of twenty- to thirty-something upwardly mobile Latina readers. Its stories about young women’s ethnic class mobility and gendered romantic success tend to celebrate twenty-first century neoliberal narratives about Americanization, hard work, and individual success. However, Hedrick emphasizes, its focus on Latina characters necessarily inflects this celebratory mode: the elusiveness of meaning in its use of the very term “Latina” empties out the differences among and between Latina/o and Chicano/a groups in the United States. Of necessity, chica lit also struggles with questions about the actual social and economic “place” of Latinas and Chicanas in this same neoliberal landscape; these questions unsettle its reliance on the tried-and-true formulas of chick lit and romance writing. Looking at chica lit’s market-driven representations of difference, poverty, and Americanization, Hedrick shows how this writing functions within the larger arena of struggles over popular representation of Latinas and Chicanas.
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Come Buy, Come Buy
Shopping and the Culture of Consumption in Victorian Women’s Writing
Krista Lysack
Ohio University Press, 2008

From the 1860s through the early twentieth century, Great Britain saw the rise of the department store and the institutionalization of a gendered sphere of consumption. Come Buy, Come Buy considers representations of the female shopper in British women’s writing and demonstrates how women’s shopping practices are materialized as forms of narrative, poetic, and cultural inscription, showing how women writers emphasize consumerism as productive of pleasure rather than the condition of seduction or loss. Krista Lysack examines works by Christina Rossetti, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, George Eliot, and Michael Field, as well as the suffragette newspaper Votes for Women, in order to challenge the dominant construction of Victorian femininity as characterized by self-renunciation and the regulation of appetite.

Come Buy, Come Buy considers not only literary works, but also a variety of archival sources (shopping guides, women’s fashion magazines, household management guides, newspapers, and advertisements) and cultural practices (department store shopping, shoplifting and kleptomania, domestic economy, and suffragette shopkeeping). With this wealth of sources, Lysack traces a genealogy of the woman shopper from dissident domestic spender to aesthetic connoisseur, from curious shop-gazer to political radical.

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Conspicuous Bodies
Provincial Belief and the Making of Joyce and Rushdie
Jean Kane
The Ohio State University Press, 2014
In Conspicuous Bodies: Provincial Belief and the Making of Joyce and Rushdie, Jean Kane re-examines the literature of James Joyce and Salman Rushdie from a post-secularist perspective, arguing that their respective religions hold critical importance in their works. Though Joyce and Rushdie were initially received as cosmopolitans, both authors subsequently reframed their public images and aligned themselves instead with a provincial religious identity, which emphasized the interconnections between religious devotion and embodiment. At the same time, both Joyce and Rushdie managed to resist the doctrinal content of their religions.
 
Conspicuous Bodies presents Joyce as a founder and Rushdie as an inheritor of a distinctive discourse of belief about the importance of physical bodies and knowledge in religious practice. In doing so, it moves the reception of Joyce and Rushdie away from what previous critics have emphasized—away from questions of aesthetics and from  a narrow understanding of belief—and instead questions the assumption that belief should be segregated from matters of physicality and knowledge. Kane reintroduces the concept of spiritual embodiment in order to expand our understanding of what counts as spiritual agency in non-western and minority literatures.
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Creating Identity in the Victorian Fictional Autobiography
Heidi L. Pennington
University of Missouri Press, 2018
This is the first book-length study of the fictional autobiography, a subgenre that is at once widely recognizable and rarely examined as a literary form with its own history and dynamics of interpretation. Heidi L. Pennington shows that the narrative form and genre expectations associated with the fictional autobiography in the Victorian period engages readers in a sustained meditation on the fictional processes that construct selfhood both in and beyond the text. Through close readings of Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, and other well-known examples of the subgenre, Pennington shows how the Victorian fictional autobiography subtly but persistently illustrates that all identities are fictions.

Despite the subgenre’s radical implications regarding the nature of personal identity, fictional autobiographies were popular in their own time and continue to inspire devotion in readers. This study sheds new light on what makes this subgenre so compelling, up to and including in the present historical moment of precipitous social and technological change. As we continue to grapple with the existential question of what determines “who we really are,” this book explores the risks and rewards of embracing conscious acts of fictional self-production in an unstable world.
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Crossing Cultures
Creating Identity in Chinese and Jewish American Literature
Judith Oster
University of Missouri Press, 2003
In this important new study, Judith Oster looks at the literature of Chinese Americans and Jewish Americans in relation to each other. Examining what is most at issue for both groups as they live between two cultures, languages, and environments, Oster focuses on the struggles of protagonists to form identities that are necessarily bicultural and always in process. Recognizing what poststructuralism has demonstrated regarding the instability of the subject and the impossibility of a unitary identity, Oster contends that the writers of these works are attempting to shore up the fragments, to construct, through their texts, some sort of wholeness and to answer at least partially the questions Who am I? and Where do I belong?
            Oster also examines the relationship of the reader to these texts. When encountering texts written by and about “others,” readers enter a world different from their own, only to find that the book has become mirrorlike, reflecting aspects of themselves: they encounter identity struggles that are familiar but writ large, more dramatic, and set in alien environments.
            Among the figures Oster considers are writers of autobiographical works like Maxine Hong Kingston and Eva Hoffman and writers of fiction: Amy Tan, Anzia Yezierska, Henry Roth, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Lan Samantha Chang, and Frank Chin. In explicating their work, Oster uses Lacan’s idea of the “mirror stage,” research in language acquisition and bilingualism, the reader-response theories of Iser and Wimmers, and the identity theories of Charles Taylor, Emile Benveniste, and others.
            Oster provides detailed analyses of mirrors and doubling in bicultural texts; the relationships between language and identity and between language and culture; and code-switching and interlanguage (English expressed in a foreign syntax). She discusses food and hunger as metaphors that express the urgent need to hear and tell stories on the part of those forging a bicultural identity. She also shows how American schooling can undermine the home culture’s deepest values, exacerbating children’s conflicts within their families and within themselves. In a chapter on theories of autobiography, Oster looks at the act of writing and how the page becomes a home that bicultural writers create for themselves. Written in an engaging, readable style, this is a valuable contribution to the field of multicultural literary criticism.
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The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry
Race, Identity, and the Performance of Popular Verse in America
Susan B. A. Somers-Willett
University of Michigan Press, 2010

"For a lucid and thorough 'real-world' analysis of the movement from the ground-up--including its history, aesthetics, and culture, there is surely no better place to start than Somers-Willett's trailblazing book."
--- Jerome Sala, Pleiades

"Finally, a clear, accurate, and thoroughly researched examination of slam poetry, a movement begun in 1984 by a mixed bag of nobody poets in Chicago. At conception, slam poetry espoused universal humanistic ideals and a broad spectrum of participants, and especially welcome is the book's analysis of how commercial marketing forces succeeded in narrowing public perception of slam to the factionalized politics of race and identity. The author's knowledge of American slam at the national level is solid and more authentic than many of the slammers who claim to be."
---Marc Kelly Smith, founder/creator of the International Poetry Slam movement

The cultural phenomenon known as slam poetry was born some twenty years ago in white working-class Chicago barrooms. Since then, the raucous competitions have spread internationally, launching a number of annual tournaments, inspiring a generation of young poets, and spawning a commercial empire in which poetry and hip-hop merge.

The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry is the first critical book to take an in-depth look at slam, shedding light on the relationships that slam poets build with their audiences through race and identity performance and revealing how poets come to celebrate (and at times exploit) the politics of difference in American culture.

With a special focus on African American poets, Susan B. A. Somers-Willett explores the pros and cons of identity representation in the commercial arena of spoken word poetry and, in doing so, situates slam within a history of verse performance, from blackface minstrelsy to Def Poetry. What's revealed is a race-based dynamic of authenticity lying at the heart of American culture. Rather than being mere reflections of culture, Somers-Willett argues, slams are culture---sites where identities and political values get publicly refigured and exchanged between poets and audiences.

Susan B. A. Somers-Willett is a decade-long veteran of slam and teaches creative writing and poetics as an Assistant Professor of English at Montclair State University. She is the author of two books of poetry, Quiver and Roam. Visit the author's website at: http://www.susansw.com/.

Photo by Jennifer Lacy.

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Dangerous Intimacies
Toward a Sapphic History of the British Novel
Lisa L. Moore
Duke University Press, 1997
Refuting commonly held beliefs within women’s and lesbian history, feminist theory, and histories of the novel, Dangerous Intimacies challenges the idea that sex between women was unimaginable in British culture before the late nineteenth century. Lisa L. Moore argues that literary representations of female sexual agency—and in particular "sapphic" relationships between women—were central to eighteenth-century debates over English national identity. Moore shows how the novel’s representation of women’s "romantic friendships"—both platonic and sexual—were encoded within wider social concerns regarding race, nation, and colonialist ventures.
Moore demonstrates that intimacy between women was vividly imagined in the British eighteenth century as not only chaste and virtuous, but also insistently and inevitably sexual. She looks at instances of sapphism in such novels as Millenium Hall, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Belinda, and Emma and analyzes how the new literary form of the novel made the bourgeois heroine’s successful negotiation of female friendship central to the establishment of her virtue. Moore also examines representations of sapphism through the sweeping economic and political changes of the period and claims that middle-class readers’ identifications with the heroine’s virtue helped the novel’s bourgeois audience justify the violent bases of their new prosperity, including slavery, colonialism, and bloody national rivalry.
In revealing the struggle over sapphism at the heart of these novels of female friendship—and at the heart of England’s national identity—Moore shows how feminine sexual agency emerged as an important cultural force in post-Enlightenment England
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Dark Twins
Imposture and Identity in Mark Twain's America
Susan Gillman
University of Chicago Press, 1989
"Many persons have such a horror of being taken in," wrote P. T. Barnum, "that they believe themselves to be a sham and are continually humbugging themselves." Mark Twain enjoyed trading on that horror, as the many confidence men, assumed identities, and disguised characters in his fiction attest. In Dark Twins, Susan Gillman challenges the widely held assumption that Twain's concern with identity is purely biographical and argues that what has been regarded as a problem of individual psychology must be located instead within American society around the turn of the century. Drawing on Twain's whole writing career, but focusing on the controversial late period of social "pessimism" and literary "incoherence," Gillman situates Twain and his work in historical context, demonstrating the complex interplay between his most intimate personal and authorial identity and the public attitudes toward race, gender, and science.

Gillman shows that laws regulating race classification, paternity, and rape cases underwrite Twain's critical exploration of racial and sexual difference in the writings of the 1890s and after, most strikingly in the little-known manuscripts that Gillman calls the "tales of transvestism." The "pseudoscience" of spiritualism and the "science" of psychology provide the cultural vocabularies essential to Twain's fantasy and science fiction writings of his last two decades. Twain stands forth finally as a representative man, not only a child of his culture, but also as one implicated in a continuing American anxiety about freedom, race, and identity.
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Displacement and the Somatics of Postcolonial Culture
Douglas Robinson
The Ohio State University Press, 2013
Displacement and the Somatics of Postcolonial Culture is Douglas Robinson’s study of postcolonial affect—specifically, of the breakdown of the normative (regulatory) circulation of affect in the refugee experience and the colonial encounter, the restructuring of that regulatory circulation in colonization, and the persistence of that restructuring in decolonization and intergenerational trauma. Robinson defines “somatics” as a cultural construction of “reality” and “identity” through the regulatory circulation of evaluative affect.
This book is divided into three essays covering the refugee experience, colonization and decolonization, and intergenerational trauma. Each essay contains a review of empirical studies of its main topic, a study of literary representations of that topic, and a study of postcolonial theoretical spins. The literary representations in the refugee essay are a novel and short story by the Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat; in the colonization essay a short film by Javier Fesser and a novella by Mahasweta Devi (translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak); and in the intergenerational trauma essay novels by James Welch and Toni Morrison and a short story by Percival Everett. The first essay’s theoretical spins include Deleuze and Guattari on nomad thought and Iain Chambers on migrancy; the second’s, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals and theories of postcolonial affect in Bhabha and Spivak; the third’s, work on historical trauma by Cathy Caruth and Dominic LaCapra.
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Domestic Negotiations
Gender, Nation, and Self-Fashioning in US Mexicana and Chicana Literature and Art
McMahon, Marci R
Rutgers University Press, 2013
Winner of the 2014 NACCS Tejas Non-Fiction Book Award

This interdisciplinary study explores how US Mexicana and Chicana authors and artists across different historical periods and regions use domestic space to actively claim their own histories. Through “negotiation”—a concept that accounts for artistic practices outside the duality of resistance/accommodation—and “self-fashioning,” Marci R. McMahon demonstrates how the very sites of domesticity are used to engage the many political and recurring debates about race, gender, and immigration affecting Mexicanas and Chicanas from the early twentieth century to today.

Domestic Negotiations covers a range of archival sources and cultural productions, including the self-fashioning of the “chili queens” of San Antonio, Texas, Jovita González’s romance novel Caballero, the home economics career and cookbooks of Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Sandra Cisneros’s “purple house controversy” and her acclaimed text The House on Mango Street, Patssi Valdez’s self-fashioning and performance of domestic space in Asco and as a solo artist, Diane Rodríguez’s performance of domesticity in Hollywood television and direction of domestic roles in theater, and Alma López’s digital prints of domestic labor in Los Angeles. With intimate close readings, McMahon shows how Mexicanas and Chicanas shape domestic space to construct identities outside of gendered, racialized, and xenophobic rhetoric.
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Echo Chambers
Figuring Voice In Narrative
Patrick O'Donnell
University of Iowa Press, 1992

 Echo Chambers provides an illuminating discussion of the representation of “voice” in novels by Dickens, Joyce, Faulkner, Lowry, and Gaddis. Focusing on the paradoxes of “voice” as an indication of how different authors understand the contradictions of “identity,” O'Donnell charts the recent history of subjectivity as reflected in the development of modern fiction. With strong theoretical underpinning—O'Donnell skillfully utilizes the theories formulated by Bakhtin, Derrida, Bersani, De Man, Deleuze, and Guattari, among others, and the semiotics of voice put forth by Julia Kristeva—Echo Chambers shows how identity is inherently contradictory, conflicted, and multiple.

This insightful volume compellingly demonstrates that “voice” is a revealing (because contradictory and heterogeneous) site where language, the body, culture, and subjectivity meet. Echo Chambers makes an important contribution to the study of modern literature, the semiotics of identity, and cultural poetics as they are informed by the projections of voice in modern narrativ

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Everybody's Autonomy
Connective Reading and Collective Identity
Juliana Spahr
University of Alabama Press, 2001
Experimental texts empower the reader by encouraging self-governing approaches to reading and by placing the reader on equal footing with the author. Everybody's Autonomy is about reading and identity.
 
Contemporary avant garde writing has often been overlooked by those who study literature and identity. Such writing has been perceived as unrelated, as disrespectful of subjectivity. But Everybody's Autonomy instead locates within avant garde literature models of identity that are communal, connective, and racially concerned. Everybody's Autonomy, as it tackles literary criticism's central question of what sort of selves do works create, looks at works that encourage connection, works that present and engage with large, public worlds that are in turn shared with readers. With this intent, it aligns the iconoclastic work of Gertrude Stein with foreign, immigrant Englishes and their accompanying subjectivities. It examines the critique of white individualism and privilege in the work of language writers Lyn Hejinian and Bruce Andrews. It looks at how Harryette Mullen mixes language writing's open text with the distinctivesness of African-American culture to propose a communal, yet still racially conscious identity. And it examines Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's use of broken English and French to unsettle readers' fluencies and assimilating comprehensions, to decolonize reading. Such works, the book argues, well represent and expand changing notions of the public, of everybody. 
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Fear, Loathing, and Victorian Xenophobia
Marlene Tromp, Maria Bachman, and Heidi Kaufman
The Ohio State University Press, 2013
In this groundbreaking collection, scholars explore Victorian xenophobia as a rhetorical strategy that transforms “foreign” people, bodies, and objects into perceived invaders with the dangerous power to alter the social fabric of the nation and the identity of the English. Essays in the collected edition look across the cultural landscape of the nineteenth century to trace the myriad tensions that gave rise to fear and loathing of immigrants, aliens, and ethnic/racial/religious others. This volume introduces new ways of reading the fear and loathing of all that was foreign in nineteenth-century British culture, and, in doing so, it captures nuances that often fall beyond the scope of current theoretical models. “Xenophobia” not only offers a distinctive theoretical lens through which to read the nineteenth century; it also advances and enriches our understanding of other critical approaches to the study of difference. Bringing together scholarship from art history, history, literary studies, cultural studies, women’s studies, Jewish studies, and postcolonial studies, Fear, Loathing, and Victorian Xenophobia seeks to open a rich and provocative dialogue on the global dimensions of xenophobia during the nineteenth century.
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The Fluency of Light
Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
University of Iowa Press, 2013
In these intertwined essays on art, music, and identity, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, the daughter of African American and Italian American parents, examines the experience of her mixed-race identity. Embracing the far-ranging stimuli of her media-obsessed upbringing, she grasps at news clippings, visual fragments, and lyrics from past and present in order to weave together a world of sense.
Art in all forms guides the author toward understanding concepts like blackness, jazz, mortality, riots, space, time, self, and other without falling prey to the myth that all things must exist within a system of binaries. Recalling her awkward attempts at coolness during her childhood, Sabatini Sloan evokes Thelonious Monk’s stage persona as a metaphor for blackness. Through the conceptual art of Adrian Piper, the author is able to understand what is so quietly menacing about the sharp, clean lines of an art gallery where she works as an assistant. The result is a compelling meditation on identity and representation. 
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Fragments for a History of a Vanishing Humanism
Myra Seaman and Eileen A. Joy
The Ohio State University Press, 2016
Fragments for a History of a Vanishing Humanism brings together scholars working in prehistoric, classical, medieval, and early modern studies who are developing, from longer and slower historical perspectives, critical post/humanisms that explore: 1) the significance (historical, sociocultural, psychic, etc.) of human expression and affectivity; 2) the impact of technology and new sciences on what it means to be a human self; 3) the importance of art and literature in defining and enacting human selves; 4) the importance of history in defining the human; 5) the artistic plasticity of the human; 6) the question of a human collectivity—what is the value, and peril, of “being human” or “being post/human” together?; and finally, 7) the constructive, and destructive, relations (aesthetic, historical, and philosophical) of the human to the nonhuman.
 
This volume, edited by Myra Seaman and Eileen A. Joy, insists on the always provisional and contingent formations of the human, and of various humanisms, over time, while also aiming to demonstrate the different ways these formations emerge (and also disappear) in different times and places, from the most ancient past to the most contemporary present. The essays are offered as “fragments” because the authors do not believe there can ever be a “total history” of either the human or the post/human as they play themselves out in differing historical contexts. At the same time, the volume as a whole argues that defining what “the human” (or “post/human”) is has always been an ongoing, never finished cultural project.
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Framing Fan Fiction
Literary and Social Practices in Fan Fiction Communities
Kristina Busse
University of Iowa Press, 2017
Gathering some of Kristina Busse’s essential essays on fan fiction together with new work, Framing Fan Fiction argues that understanding media fandom requires combining literary theory with cultural studies because fan artifacts are both artistic works and cultural documents. Drawing examples from a multitude of fan communities and texts, Busse frames fan fiction in three key ways: as individual and collective erotic engagement; as a shared interpretive practice in which tropes constitute shared creative markers and illustrate the complexity of fan creations; and as a point of contention around which community conflicts over ethics play out. Moving between close readings of individual texts and fannish tropes on the one hand, and the highly intertextual embeddedness of these communal creations on the other, the book demonstrates that fan fiction is simultaneously a literary and a social practice.

Framing Fan Fiction deploys personal history and the interpretations of specific stories to contextualize fan fiction culture and its particular forms of intertextuality and performativity. In doing so, it highlights the way fans use fan fiction’s reimagining of the source material to explore issues of identities and peformativities, gender and sexualities, within a community of like-minded people. In contrast to the celebration of originality in many other areas of artistic endeavor, fan fiction celebrates repetition, especially the collective creation and circulation of tropes.

An essential resource for scholars, Framing Fan Fiction is also an ideal starting point for those new to the study of fan fiction and its communities of writers. 
 
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Framing the Polish Home
Postwar Cultural Constructions of Hearth, Nation, and Self
Bozena Shallcross
Ohio University Press, 2002

As the subject of ideological, aesthetic, and existential manipulations, the Polish home and its representation is an ever-changing phenomenon that absorbs new tendencies and, at the same time, retains its centrality to Polish literature, whether written in Poland or abroad. Framing the Polish Home is a pioneering work that explores the idea of home as fundamental to the question of cultural and national identity within Poland's recent history and its tradition.

In this inaugural volume of the
Polish and Polish-American Studies Series, the Polish home emerges in its rich verbal and visual representations and multiple material embodiments, as the discussion moves from the loss of the home during wartime to the Sovietized politics of housing and from the exilic strategies of having a home to the the idyllic evocation of the abodes of the past.

Although, as Bożena Shallcross notes in her introduction, “few concepts seem to have such universal appeal as the notion of the home,” this area of study is still seriously underdeveloped. In essays from sixteen scholars, Framing the Polish Home takes a significant step to correct that oversight, covering a broad range of issues pertinent to the discourse on the home and demonstrating the complexity of the home in Polish literature and culture.

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From Domestic Women to Sensitive Young Men
Translating the Individual in Early Colonial Korea
Yoon Sun Yang
Harvard University Press, 2017

The notion of the individual was initially translated into Korean near the end of the nineteenth century and took root during the early years of Japanese colonial influence. Yoon Sun Yang argues that the first literary iterations of the Korean individual were prototypically female figures appearing in the early colonial domestic novel—a genre developed by reform-minded male writers—as schoolgirls, housewives, female ghosts, femmes fatales, and female same-sex partners. Such female figures have long been viewed as lacking in modernity because, unlike numerous male characters in Korean literature after the late 1910s, they did not assert their own modernity, or that of the nation, by exploring their interiority. Yang, however, shows that no reading of Korean modernity can ignore these figures, because the early colonial domestic novel cast them as individuals in terms of their usefulness or relevance to the nation, whether model citizens or iconoclasts.

By including these earlier narratives within modern Korean literary history and positing that they too were engaged in the translation of individuality into Korean, Yang’s study not only disrupts the canonical account of a non-gendered, linear progress toward modern Korean selfhood but also expands our understanding of the role played by translation in Korea’s construction of modern gender roles.

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The Holocaust of Texts
Genocide, Literature, and Personification
Amy Hungerford
University of Chicago Press, 2002
Why do we so often speak of books as living, flourishing, and dying? And what is at stake when we do so? This habit of treating books as people, or personifying texts, is rampant in postwar American culture. In this bracing study, Amy Hungerford argues that such personification has become pivotal to our contemporary understanding of both literature and genocide. Personified texts, she contends, play a particularly powerful role in works where the systematic destruction of entire ethnic groups is at issue.

Hungerford examines the implications of conflating texts with people in a broad range of texts: Art Spiegelman's Maus; Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451; the poetry of Sylvia Plath; Binjamin Wilkomirski's fake Holocaust memoir Fragments; and the fiction of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Don DeLillo. She considers the ethical consequences of this trend in the work of recent and contemporary theorists and literary critics as well, including Cathy Caruth, Jacqueline Rose, Jacques Derrida, and Paul de Man. What she uncovers are fundamentally flawed ideas about representation that underwrite and thus undermine powerful and commonly accepted claims about literature and identity. According to Hungerford, the personification of texts is ethically corrosive and theoretically unsound. When we exalt the literary as personal and construe genocide as less a destruction of human life than of culture, we esteem memory over learning, short-circuit debates about cultural change, lend credence to the illusion or metaphysics of presence, and limit our conception of literature and its purpose.

Ultimately, The Holocaust of Texts asks us to think more deeply about the relationship between reading, experience, and memorialization. Why, for instance, is it more important to remember acts of genocide than simply to learn about them? If literary works are truly the bearers of ontology, then what must be our conduct toward them? Considering difficult questions such as these with fresh logic, Hungerford offers us an invigorating work, one that will not only interest scholars of American and postwar literature, but students of the Holocaust and critical theory as well.
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A Home Elsewhere
Reading African American Classics in the Age of Obama
Robert B. Stepto
Harvard University Press, 2010

In this series of interlocking essays, which had their start as lectures inspired by the presidency of Barack Obama, Robert Burns Stepto sets canonical works of African American literature in conversation with Obama’s Dreams from My Father. The elegant readings that result shed surprising light on unexamined angles of works ranging from Frederick Douglass’s Narrative to W. E. B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk to Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon.

Stepto draws our attention to the concerns that recur in the books he takes up: how protagonists raise themselves, often without one or both parents; how black boys invent black manhood, often with no models before them; how protagonists seek and find a home elsewhere; and how they create personalities that can deal with the pain of abandonment. These are age-old themes in African American literature that, Stepto shows, gain a special poignancy and importance because our president has lived through these situations and circumstances and has written about them in a way that refreshes our understanding of the whole of African American literature.

Stepto amplifies these themes in four additional essays, which investigate Douglass’s correspondence with Harriet Beecher Stowe; Willard Savoy’s novel Alien Land and its interracial protagonist; the writer’s understanding of the reader in African American literature; and Stepto’s account of his own schoolhouse lessons, with their echoes of Douglass’ and Obama’s experiences.

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Imagination, Emblems, and Expressions
Essays on Latin American, Carribean, and Continental Culture and Identity
Helen Ryan-Ranson
University of Wisconsin Press, 1993

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.

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Imagining Monsters
Miscreations of the Self in Eighteenth-Century England
Dennis Todd
University of Chicago Press, 1995
In 1726, an illiterate woman from Surrey named Mary Toft announced that she had given birth to seventeen rabbits. Deceiving respected physicians and citizens alike, she created a hoax that held England spellbound for months. In Imagining Monsters, Dennis Todd tells the story of this bizarre incident and shows how it illuminates eighteenth-century beliefs about the power of imagination and the problems of personal identity.

Mary Toft's outrageous claim was accepted because of a common belief that the imagination of a pregnant woman could deform her fetus, creating a monster within her. Drawing on largely unexamined material from medicine, embryology, philosophy, and popular "monster" exhibitions, Todd shows that such ideas about monstrous births expressed a fear central to scientific, literary, and philosophical thinking: that the imagination could transgress the barrier between mind and body.

In his analysis of the Toft case, Todd exposes deep anxieties about the threat this transgressive imagination posed to the idea of the self as stable, coherent, and autonomous. Major works of Pope and Swift reveal that they, too, were concerned with these issues, and Imagining Monsters provides detailed discussions of Gulliver's Travels and The Dunciad illustrating how these writers used images of monstrosity to explore the problematic nature of human identity. It also includes a provocative analysis of Pope's later work that takes into account his physical deformity and his need to defend himself in a society that linked a deformed body with a deformed character.
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Impersonality
Seven Essays
Sharon Cameron
University of Chicago Press, 2007
Philosophers have long debated the subjects of person and personhood. Sharon Cameron ushers this debate into the literary realm by considering impersonality in the works of major American writers and figures of international modernism—writers for whom personal identity is inconsequential and even imaginary. In essays on William Empson, Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, T. S. Eliot, and Simone Weil, Cameron examines the impulse to hollow out the core of human distinctiveness, to construct a voice that is no one’s voice, to fashion a character without meaningful attributes, a being that is virtually anonymous.

“To consent to being anonymous,” Weil wrote, “is to bear witness to the truth. But how is this compatible with social life and its labels?” Throughout these essays Cameron examines the friction, even violence, set in motion from such incompatibility—from a “truth” that has no social foundation. Impersonality investigates the uncompromising nature of writing that suspends, eclipses, and even destroys the person as a social, political, or individual entity, of writing that engages with personal identity at the moment when its usual markers vanish or dissolve.

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In Visible Movement
Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam
Urayoan Noel
University of Iowa Press, 2014
Since the 1960s, Nuyorican poets have explored and performed Puerto Rican identity both on and off the page. Emerging within and alongside the civil rights movements of the 1960s, the foundational Nuyorican writers sought to counter the ethnic/racial and institutional invisibility of New York City Puerto Ricans by documenting the reality of their communities in innovative and sometimes challenging ways. Since then, Nuyorican poetry has entered the U.S. Latino literary canon and has gained prominence in light of the spoken-word revival of the past two decades, a movement spearheaded by the Nuyorican Poetry Slams of the 1990s. Today, Nuyorican poetry engages with contemporary social issues such as the commodification of the body, the institutionalization of poetry, the gentrification of the barrio, and the national and global marketing of identity. What has not changed is a continued shared investment in a poetics that links the written word and the performing body.

The first book-length study specifically devoted to Nuyorican poetry, In Visible Movement is unique in its historical and formal breadth, ranging from the foundational poets of the 1960s and 1970s to a variety of contemporary poets emerging in and around the Nuyorican Poets Cafe “slam” scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. It also unearths a largely unknown corpus of poetry performances, reading over forty years of Nuyorican poetry at the intersection of the printed and performed word, underscoring the poetry’s links to vernacular and Afro-Puerto Rican performance cultures, from the island’s oral poets to the New York sounds and rhythms of Latin boogaloo, salsa, and hip-hop. With depth and insight, Urayoán Noel analyzes various canonical Nuyorican poems by poets such as Pedro Pietri, Victor Hernández Cruz, Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Sandra María Esteves, and Tato Laviera. He discusses historically overlooked poets such as Lorraine Sutton, innovative poets typically read outside the Nuyorican tradition such as Frank Lima and Edwin Torres, and a younger generation of Nuyorican-identified poets including Willie Perdomo, María Teresa Mariposa Fernández, and Emanuel Xavier, whose work has received only limited critical consideration. The result is a stunning reflection of how New York Puerto Rican poets have addressed the complexity of identity amid diaspora for over forty years.
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Latin American Identity and Constructions of Difference
Amaryll Chanady
University of Minnesota Press, 1993

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Lives in Two Languages
An Exploration of Identity and Culture
Linda Watkins-Goffman
University of Michigan Press, 2001
Lives in Two Languages explores identity and multiculturalism through readings that aim to help teachers-in-training gain better insight into their students' lives.
Lives in Two Languages focuses on the experience of multicultural authors--like Richard Rodriguez, Amy Tan, Eva Hoffman, Chang-rae Lee, and Julia Alvarez--whose experiences can be related to anyone who has moved from one culture or subculture to another. As such, this text is an excellent comprehensive introduction to the multicultural experience for teachers and educators in all disciplines, as well as of interest to anyone interested in language culture and psychological process of identity.
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Lyric Poetry and Social Identity in Archaic Greece
Jessica M. Romney
University of Michigan Press, 2020
Lyric Poetry and Social Identity in Archaic Greece examines how Greek men presented themselves and their social groups to one another. The author examines identity rhetoric in sympotic lyric: how Greek poets constructed images of self for their groups, focusing in turn on the construction of identity in martial-themed poetry, the protection of group identities in the face of political exile, and the negotiation between individual and group as seen in political lyric. By conducting a close reading of six poems and then a broad survey of martial lyric, exile poetry, political lyric, and sympotic lyric as a whole, Jessica Romney demonstrates that sympotic lyric focuses on the same basic behaviors and values to construct social identities regardless of the content or subgenre of the poems in question. The volume also argues that the performance of identity depends on the context as well as the material of performance. Furthermore, the book demonstrates that sympotic lyric overwhelmingly prefers to use identity rhetoric that insists on the inherent sameness of group members.

All non-English text and quotes are translated, with the original languages given alongside the translation or in the endnotes.
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Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson
Race, Conflict and Culture
Susan Gillman and Forrest Robinson, eds.
Duke University Press, 1990
This collection seeks to place Pudd’nhead Wilson—a neglected, textually fragmented work of Mark Twain’s—in the context of contemporary critical approaches to literary studies. The editors’ introduction argues the virtues of using Pudd’nhead Wilson as a teaching text, a case study in many of the issues presently occupying literary criticism: issues of history and the uses of history, of canon formation, of textual problematics, and finally of race, class, and gender.

In a variety of ways the essays build arguments out of, not in spite of, the anomalies, inconsistencies, and dead ends in the text itself. Such wrinkles and gaps, the authors find, are the symptoms of an inconclusive, even evasive, but culturally illuminating struggle to confront and resolve difficult questions bearing on race and sex. Such fresh, intellectually enriching perspectives on the novel arise directly from the broad-based interdisciplinary foundations provided by the participating scholars. Drawing on a wide variety of critical methodologies, the essays place the novel in ways that illuminate the world in which it was produced and that further promise to stimulate further study.

Contributors. Michael Cowan, James M. Cox, Susan Gillman, Myra Jehlen, Wilson Carey McWilliams, George E. Marcus, Carolyn Porter, Forrest Robinson, Michael Rogin, John Carlos Rowe, John Schaar, Eric Sundquist

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MIDDLE PASSAGES AND THE HEALING PLACE OF HISTORY
MIGRATION AND IDENTITY IN BLACK WOMEN'S LITERATURE
ELIZABETH BROWN-GUILLORY
The Ohio State University Press, 2006
Middle Passages and the Healing Place of History: Migration and Identity in Black Women’s Literature brings together a series of essays addressing black women’s fragmented identities and quests for wholeness. The individual essays concern culturally specific experiences of blacks in select African countries, England, the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada. They examine identity struggles by establishing the Middle Passage as the first site of identity rupture and the subsequent break from cultural and historical moorings. In most cases, the authors themselves have migrated from their places of origin to new spaces that present challenges. Their narratives replicate the displacement engendered by their own experiences of living with the complexities of diasporic existence. Their female characters, many of whom participate in multiple border crossings, work to define themselves within a hostile environment. In nearly every essay, the female characters struggle against multiple yokes of oppression, giving voice to what it means to be black, female, poor, old, and alone. The subjects’ migrations and journeys are analyzed as attempts to heal the “displacement,” both physical and psychological, that results from dislocation and relocation from the homeland, imagined variously as Africa.

This volume reveals that black women across the globe share a common ground fraught with struggles, but the narratives bear out that these women are not easily divided and that they stand upon each other’s shoulders dispensing healing balms.  Black women’s history and herstory commingle; the trauma that ensued when Africans were loaded onto ships in chains continues to haunt black women, and men, too, wherever they find themselves in this present moment of the Diaspora.
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On Not Being Someone Else
Tales of Our Unled Lives
Andrew H. Miller
Harvard University Press, 2020

“To be someone—to be anyone—is about…not being someone else. Miller’s amused and inspired book is utterly compelling.”
—Adam Phillips


“A compendium of expressions of wonder over what might have been…Swept up in our real lives, we quickly forget about the unreal ones. Still, there will be moments when, for good or ill, we feel confronted by our unrealized possibilities.”
New Yorker

We live one life, formed by paths taken and untaken. Choosing a job, getting married, deciding on a place to live or whether to have children—every decision precludes another. But what if you’d gone the other way?

From Robert Frost to Sharon Olds, Virginia Woolf to Ian McEwan, Jane Hirshfield to Carl Dennis, storytellers of every stripe consider the roads not taken, the lives we haven’t led. What is it that compels us to identify with fictional and poetic voices tantalizing us with the shadows of what might have been? Not only poets and novelists, but psychologists and philosophers have much to say on this question. Miller finds wisdom in all of these, revealing the beauty, the allure, and the danger of sustaining or confronting our unled lives.

“Miller is charming company, both humanly and intellectually. He is onto something: the theme of unled lives, and the fascinating idea that fiction intensifies the sense of provisionality that attends all lives. An extremely attractive book.”
—James Wood

“An expertly curated tour of regret and envy in literature…Miller’s insightful and moving book—both in his own discussion and in the tales he recounts—gently nudges us toward consolation.”
Wall Street Journal

“I wish I had written this book…Examining art’s capacity to transfix, multiply, and compress, this book is itself a work of art.”
Times Higher Education

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Passing for Spain
CERVANTES AND THE FICTIONS OF IDENTITY
Barbara Fuchs
University of Illinois Press, 2003
Passing for Spain charts the intersections of identity, nation, and literary representation in early modern Spain. Barbara Fuchs analyzes the trope of passing in Don Quijote and other works by Cervantes, linking the use of disguise to the broader historical and social context of Counter-Reformation Spain and the religious and political dynamics of the Mediterranean Basin.

In five lucid and engaging chapters, Fuchs examines what passes in Cervantes’s fiction: gender and race in Don Quijote and  “Las dos doncellas”; religion in “El amante liberal” and La gran sultana; national identity in the Persiles and “La española inglesa.” She argues that Cervantes represents cross-cultural impersonation -- or characters who pass for another gender, nationality, or religion -- as challenges to the state’s attempts to assign identities and categories to proper Spanish subjects.

Fuchs demonstrates the larger implications of this challenge by bringing a wide range of literary and political texts to bear on Cervantes’s representations. Impeccably researched, Passing for Spain examines how the fluidity of individual identity in early modern Spain undermined a national identity based on exclusion and difference.
 
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Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage
Cynthia Lowenthal
Southern Illinois University Press, 2002

In Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage, Cynthia Lowenthal explores identity—especially masculinity and femininity, English and “foreign,” middle-class and aristocratic—as it is enacted, idealized, deployed, and redefined on the late-seventeenth-century British stage. Particular emphasis is placed on the ways the theatre contributed to new and often shifting early modern definitions of the boundaries of nation, status, and gender.

The first portion of the book focuses on the playwrights’ presentations of idealized men and the comic ridicule of male bodies and behaviors that fall short of the ideal. Of special interest are those moments when playwrights use stereotypes of national character, particularly the Spaniards and Turks, as examples of the worst in male behavior, judgments that are always inflected with elements of class or status inconsistency.

The second portion of Lowenthal’s discussion focuses on playwrights’ attempts to redefine the idealized woman. Lowenthal investigates the ways that an extratheatrical discourse surrounding the actresses, one that essentialized them as sexual bodies demanding scrutiny and requiring containment, also serves to secure for them an equally essential aristocratic status. Anchored by Manley’s Royal Mischief, Lowenthal’s reading reveals that even a woman playwright’s attempts to represent female subjectivity or interiority at odds with the surfaces of the body are doomed to return to those same surfaces.

By focusing on a new, early modern lability of identity and by reading less canonical women playwrights, such as Manley and Pix, alongside established male playwrights such as Dryden and Wycherley, Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage yields both a more accurate and a more compelling picture of the cultural dynamics at work on the early modern stage.

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PERFORMING THE VICTORIAN
JOHN RUSKIN AND IDENTITY IN THEATER, SCIENCE, AND EDUCATION
SHARON ARONOFSKY WELTMAN
The Ohio State University Press, 2007
Performing the Victorian: John Ruskin and Identity in Theater, Science, and Education by Sharon Aronofsky Weltman is the first book to examine Ruskin’s writing on theater.
            In works as celebrated as Modern Painters and obscure as Love’s Meinie, Ruskin uses his voracious attendance at the theater to illustrate points about social justice, aesthetic practice, and epistemology. Opera, Shakespeare, pantomime, French comedies, juggling acts, and dance prompt his fascination with performed identities that cross boundaries of gender, race, nation, and species. These theatrical examples also reveal the primacy of performance to his understanding of science and education.
            In addition to Ruskin on theater, Performing the Victorian interprets recent theater portraying Ruskin (The Invention of Love, The Countess, the opera Modern Painters) as merely a Victorian prude or pedophile against which contemporary culture defines itself. These theatrical depictions may be compared to concurrent plays about Ruskin’s friend and student Oscar Wilde (Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, The Judas Kiss). Like Ruskin, Wilde is misrepresented on the fin-de-millennial stage, in his case anachronistically as an icon of homosexual identity. These recent characterizations offer a set of static identity labels that constrain contemporary audiences more rigidly than the mercurial selves conjured in the prose of either Ruskin or Wilde.
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The Poetics of Impersonality
T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound
Maud Ellmann
Harvard University Press, 1987

T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound dominated English poetry and criticism in the first half of the twentieth century. At the center of their practice is what Maud Ellmann calls the poetics of impersonality. Her examination yields a set of superb readings of the major poems of the modernist canon. Eliot and Pound mounted attack after attack on nineteenth-century poetry from Wordsworth to Swinburne, poetry they believed nurtured an unhealthy cult of the self. They wanted poetry to be a transparent medium that gives its readers access to reality and meaning. Poetry, they argued, should efface itself, because writing that calls attention to itself calls attention to the distinctive personality of the writer. Ellmann convincingly shows that their arguments are self-contradictory and that their efforts to eliminate personality merely reinstate it in a different guise.

After an initial section on Eliot’s relation to Bergson, Ellmann goes on to analyze Eliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and the later After Strange Gods, the early poems, The Waste Land, and Four Quartets; she then turns to Pound’s Personae, particularly “Mauberley,” and the Cantos. Ellmann looks for the contradictions inherent in modernist literary ideology and deftly teases out their implications. Her writing is stylish in the best sense and, in terms of its theoretical vocabulary and assumptions, impeccable. This book marks the debut of a major literary critic.

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A Poetics of Trauma
The Work of Dahlia Ravikovitch
Ilana Szobel
Brandeis University Press, 2013
The work of the renowned Israeli poet, translator, peace activist, and 1998 Israel Prize laureate Dahlia Ravikovitch (1936–2005) portrays the emotional structure of a traumatized and victimized female character. Ilana Szobel’s book, the first full-length study of Ravikovitch in English, offers a theoretical discussion of the poetics of trauma and the politics of victimhood, as well as a rethinking of the notions of activity and passivity, strength and weakness. Analyzing the deep structure embodied in Ravikovitch’s work, Szobel unearths the interconnectedness of Ravikovitch’s private-poetic subjectivity and Israeli national identity, and shows how her unique poetics can help readers overcome cultural biases and sympathetically engage otherness.
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Poetics of Visibility in the Contemporary Arab American Novel
Mazen Naous
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
How might art disrupt Arabophobia and Islamophobia in the US? In Poetics of Visibility in the Contemporary Arab American Novel, Mazen Naous argues that fiction is one of the ways in which Arab Americans can correct dominant narratives of themselves with representation of their lived realities. Looking at both the aesthetics and politics in contemporary Arab American novels, Naous demonstrates that the novels’ poetics cannot be extricated from or subsumed under political content. In his finely textured analyses of form and style, Naous uncovers crucial transcultural and transpoetic solidarities that extend beyond the politics of representation.
 
Naous’s book offers analyses of Diana Abu-Jaber’s Arabian Jazz and Crescent, Rabih Alameddine’s Koolaids: The Art of War, Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land, and Mohja Kahf’s The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf as ways to answer this question. Naous explores how these novels negotiate queer desire, music, Western and Middle Eastern art, gender, and relationships between other minorities. These poetics enable readers to see the nuance and richness of Arab American experience. Naous ultimately argues that fiction creates crucial spaces for reimagining and redefining intercultural relationships.
 
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Postliterary America
From Bagel Shop Jazz to Micropoetries
Maria Damon
University of Iowa Press, 2011
In this capacious and challenging book, Maria Damon surveys the poetry and culture of the United States in two distinct but inextricably linked periods. In part 1, “Identity K/not/e/s,” she considers the America of the 1950s and early 1960s, when contentious and troubled alliances took shape between different marginalized communities and their respective but overlapping bohemias—Jews, African Americans, the Beats, and gays and lesbians. Using a rich trove of texts and artifacts—ranging from Gertrude Stein’s writings about her own Jewishness to transcripts from Lenny Bruce’s obscenity trial, Bob Kaufman’s Beat poetry—as well as her own stake in the material, Damon plumbs the complexities of social identity and expressive cultures to fascinating effect.
      Always erudite but never effete, Damon then turns to more contemporary issues and broader topics of poetics: micropoetries, cyberpoetics, spoken-word poets, performance poets, and their communities. Echoing many of the themes of the first section of the book, including poetic identity and the troubled nature of the poetic “I,” part 2’s “Poetics for a Postliterary America” goes on to paint a wider picture, dwelling less on close readings of individual poems and more on asking questions about the nature of poetry itself and its role in community formation and individual survival. Discussions of counterperformance, kinetics, the Nuyoricans, Latino identity, and electronic poetics enliven this section.
      Never reluctant to acknowledge the deeply personal origins of the work at hand, Damon cleaves to the subject matter, be it questions of identity, matters of poetry, or what it means to live in a postliterary culture. In doing so, she dares to ask what it means to be a member of the “shadow people”—those who occupy marginalized, nocturnal counterculture—creating verbal art.
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Reading America
Citizenship, Democracy, and Cold War Literature
Kristin L. Matthews
University of Massachusetts Press, 2016
During the Cold War, the editor of Time magazine declared, "A good citizen is a good reader." As postwar euphoria faded, a wide variety of Americans turned to reading to understand their place in the changing world. Yet, what did it mean to be a good reader? And how did reading make you a good citizen?

In Reading America, Kristin L. Matthews puts into conversation a range of political, educational, popular, and touchstone literary texts to demonstrate how Americans from across the political spectrum—including "great works" proponents, New Critics, civil rights leaders, postmodern theorists, neoconservatives, and multiculturalists—celebrated particular texts and advocated particular interpretive methods as they worked to make their vision of "America" a reality. She situates the fiction of J. D. Salinger, Ralph Ellison, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, and Maxine Hong Kingston within these debates, illustrating how Cold War literature was not just an object of but also a vested participant in postwar efforts to define good reading and citizenship.
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Recovered Legacies
Authority And Identity In Early Asian Amer Lit
edited by Keith Lawrence and Floyd Cheung
Temple University Press, 2005
Recovered Legacies: Authority and Identity in Early Asian American Literature employs contemporary and traditional readings of representative works in prose, poetry, and drama to suggest new ways of understanding and appreciating the critically fertile but underexamined body of Asian American writing from the late 1800s to the early 1960s. The essays in this volume engage this corpus—composed of multiple genres from different periods and by authors of different ethnicities—with a strong awareness of historical context and a keen sensitivity to literary form. As a collection, Recovered Legacies re-establishes the rich and diverse literary heritage of Asian America and argues persuasively for the significance of these works to the American literary canon.
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The Romance of Race
Incest, Miscegenation, and Multiculturalism in the United States, 1880-1930
Sheffer, Jolie A.
Rutgers University Press, 2013

In the United States miscegenation is not merely a subject of literature and popular culture. It is in many ways the foundation of contemporary imaginary community. The Romance of Race examines the role of minority women writers and reformers in the creation of our modern American multiculturalism.

The national identity of the United States was transformed between 1880 and 1930 due to mass immigration, imperial expansion, the rise of Jim Crow, and the beginning of the suffrage movement. A generation of women writers and reformers—particularly women of color—contributed to these debates by imagining new national narratives that put minorities at the center of American identity. Jane Addams, Pauline Hopkins, Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton), María Cristina Mena, and Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) embraced the images of the United States—and increasingly the world—as an interracial nuclear family. They also reframed public debates through narratives depicting interracial encounters as longstanding, unacknowledged liaisons between white men and racialized women that produced an incestuous, mixed-race nation.

By mobilizing the sexual taboos of incest and miscegenation, these women writers created political allegories of kinship and community. Through their criticisms of the nation’s history of exploitation and colonization, they also imagined a more inclusive future. As Jolie A. Sheffer identifies the contemporary template for American multiculturalism in the works of turn-of-the century minority writers, she uncovers a much more radical history than has previously been considered.

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Seeds of Change
Critical Essays on Barbara Kingsolver
Priscilla Leder
University of Tennessee Press, 2010

Barbara Kingsolver's books have sold millions of copies. The Poisonwood Bible was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and her work is studied in courses ranging from English-as-a-second-language classes to seminars in doctoral programs. Yet, until now, there has been relatively little scholarly analysis of her writings.

Seeds of Change: Critical Essays on Barbara Kingsolver, edited by Priscilla V. Leder, is the first collection of essays examining the full range of Kingsolver's literary output. The articles in this new volume provide analysis, context, and commentary on all of Kingsolver's novels, her poetry, her two essay collections, and her full-length nonfiction memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

Professor Leder begins Seeds of Change with a brief critical biography that traces Kingsolver's development as a writer. Leder also includes an overview of the scholarship on Kingsolver's oeuvre. Organized by subject matter, the 14 essays in the book are divided into three sections tha deal with recurrent themes in Kingsolver's compositions: identity, social justice, and ecology.

The pieces in this ground-breaking volume draw upon contemporary critical approaches—ecocritical, postcolonial, feminist, and disability studies—to extend established lines of inquiry into Kingsolver's writing and to take them in new directions. By comparing Kingsolver with earlier writers such as Joseph Conrad and Henry David Thoreau, the contributors place her canon in literary context and locate her in cultural contexts by revealing how she re-works traditional narratives such as the Western myth. They also address the more controversial aspects of her writings, examining her political advocacy and her relationship to her reader, in addition to exploring her vision of a more just and harmonious world.

Fully indexed with a comprehensive works-cited section, Seeds of Change gives scholars and students important insight and analysis which will deepen and broaden their understanding and experience of Barbara Kingsolver's work.

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Show Me Your Environment
Essays on Poetry, Poets, and Poems
David Baker
University of Michigan Press, 2014

Show Me Your Environment, a penetrating yet personable collection of critical essays, David Baker explores how a poem works, how a poet thinks, and how the art of poetry has evolved—and is still evolving as a highly diverse, spacious, and inclusive art form. The opening essays offer contemplations on the “environment of poetry from thoughts on physical places and regions as well as the inner aesthetic environment. Next, he looks at the highly distinctive achievements and styles of poets ranging from George Herbert and Emily Dickinson through poets writing today. Finally, Baker takes joy in reading individual poems—from the canonical to the contemporary; simply and closely.

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Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto, and Mr. Moto
Poetry and Identity
David Mura
University of Michigan Press, 2002
As a Sansei or third-generation Japanese American poet, David Mura is one of the generation of multicultural writers who are changing the face of American poetry. Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto, and Mr. Moto explores shifts in and challenges to aesthetic standards that have come about because of a more diverse range of American writers and because of the growing awareness of world literature.
Mura's writings recently have been at the center of various debates concerning race and literary standards. In this book, he argues the need for a more complicated and diverse set of literary standards than the canon has previously allowed, an opening up to the many voices that are "great within us." He contends that, when placed against a gathering awareness of a world literature, particularly in the so-called Third World, the boundaries of the traditional Anglo-American canon and its present-day proponents like Harold Bloom come to be seen as too narrow and parochial, reenacting the "tribal" label that many throw now at the advocates of multiculturalism.
Beyond its theoretical underpinnings, Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto, and Mr. Moto charts the wayward course of Mura's own development as a poet. In three interviews, Mura provides readings of his own work and discusses various issues of technique and form.
David Mura is a poet, memoirist, essayist, playwright, writer of fiction, performance artist, and literary critic. He is author of The Colors of Desire, After We Lost Our Way, and Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei.
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The Sovereignty of Quiet
Beyond Resistance in Black Culture
Quashie, Kevin
Rutgers University Press, 2012
African American culture is often considered expressive, dramatic, and even defiant. In The Sovereignty of Quiet, Kevin Quashie explores quiet as a different kind of expressiveness, one which characterizes a person’s desires, ambitions, hungers, vulnerabilities, and fears. Quiet is a metaphor for the inner life, and as such, enables a more nuanced understanding of black culture.

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.

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Strange Bodies
Gender and Identity in the Novels of Carson McCullers
Sarah Gleeson-White
University of Alabama Press, 2003

Adapts Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the grotesque, as well as the latest in gender and psychoanalytic theory, to the major works of acclaimed southern writer Carson McCullers.

This innovative reconsideration of the themes of Carson McCullers's fiction argues that her work has heretofore suffered under the pall of narrow gothic interpretations, obscuring a more subversive agenda. By examining McCullers’s major novels—The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Member of the Wedding, and The Ballad of the Sad Café—Gleeson-White locates a radical and specific form of the grotesque in the author's fiction: the liberating and redemptive possibilities of errant gender roles and shifting sexuality. She does this by employing Bakhtin's theory of the grotesque, which is both affirming and revolutionary, and thereby moves McCullers's texts beyond the 'gloom and doom' with which they have been charged for over fifty years.

The first chapter explores female adolescence by focusing on McCullers's tomboys in the context of oppressive southern womanhood. The second chapter analyzes McCullers's fascinating struggle to depict homosexual desire outside of traditional stereotypes. Gleeson-White then examines McCullers's portrayals of feminine and masculine gender through the tropes of cross-dressing, transvestism, and masquerade. The final chapter takes issue with earlier readings of androgyny in the texts to suggest a more useful concept McCullers herself called "the hybrid." Underpinning the whole study is the idea of a provocative, dynamic form of the grotesque that challenges traditional categories of normal and abnormal.

Because the characters and themes of McCullers's fiction were created in the 1940s and 1950s, a time of tension between the changing status of women and the southern ideal of womanhood, they are particularly fertile ground for a modern reexamination of this nature. Gleeson-White's study will be valued by scholars of American literature and gender and queer studies, by students of psychology, by academic libraries, and by readers of Carson McCullers. Strange Bodies is a thoughtful, highly credible analysis that adds dimension to the study of southern literature.





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Subject Without Nation
Robert Musil and the History of Modern Identity
Stefan Jonsson
Duke University Press, 2001
This innovative study of the works of Robert Musil opens a new window on the history of modern identity in western culture. Stefan Jonsson argues that Musil’s Austria was the first postimperial state in modern Europe. Prior to its destruction in 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Empire had ruled over a vast array of nationalities and, in the course of its demise as well as after, Austria was beset by nationalism, racism, and other forms of identity politics that ultimately led to the triumph of Nazism.
It was to this society that Musil responded in his great work The Man Without Qualities. Exploring the nooks and crannies of this modernist classic, Jonsson shows that Musil’s narrative evolves along two axes that must be considered in tandem: Whereas the central plot portrays a Viennese elite that in 1913 attempts to restore social cohesion by gathering popular support for the cultural essence of the empire, the protagonist discovers that he lacks essence altogether and finds himself attracted by monsters, criminals, and revolutionary figures that reject the social order. In this way, Musil’s novel traces the disappearance of what Jonsson calls the expressivist paradigm—the conviction that identities such as gender, nationality, class, and social character are expressions of permanent intrinsic dispositions. This, Jonsson argues, is Musil’s great legacy. For not only did the Austrian author seek to liquidate prevailing conceptions of personal and cultural identity; he also projected “a new human being,” one who would resist assimilation into imperialist, nationalist, or fascist communities.
Subject Without Nation presents a new interpretation of Viennese modernity and uncovers the historical foundations of poststructural and postcolonial reconceptualizations of human subjectivity. Illuminating links between Musil’s oeuvre as a whole and post-war developments in critical thought, this book locates an important crossroads between literary criticism, intellectual history, and cultural theory.
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Terminal Identity
The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction
Scott Bukatman
Duke University Press, 1993
Scott Bukatman's Terminal Identity—referring to both the site of the termination of the conventional "subject" and the birth of a new subjectivity constructed at the computer terminal or television screen--puts to rest any lingering doubts of the significance of science fiction in contemporary cultural studies. Demonstrating a comprehensive knowledge, both of the history of science fiction narrative from its earliest origins, and of cultural theory and philosophy, Bukatman redefines the nature of human identity in the Information Age.
Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theories of the postmodern—including Fredric Jameson, Donna Haraway, and Jean Baudrillard—Bukatman begins with the proposition that Western culture is suffering a crisis brought on by advanced electronic technologies. Then in a series of chapters richly supported by analyses of literary texts, visual arts, film, video, television, comics, computer games, and graphics, Bukatman takes the reader on an odyssey that traces the postmodern subject from its current crisis, through its close encounters with technology, and finally to new self-recognition. This new "virtual subject," as Bukatman defines it, situates the human and the technological as coexistent, codependent, and mutally defining.
Synthesizing the most provocative theories of postmodern culture with a truly encyclopedic treatment of the relevant media, this volume sets a new standard in the study of science fiction—a category that itself may be redefined in light of this work. Bukatman not only offers the most detailed map to date of the intellectual terrain of postmodern technology studies—he arrives at new frontiers, providing a propitious launching point for further inquiries into the relationship of electronic technology and culture.
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To Be Suddenly White
Literary Realism and Racial Passing
Steven J. Belluscio
University of Missouri Press, 2006
To Be Suddenly White explores the troubled relationship between literary passing and literary realism, the dominant aesthetic motivation behind the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century ethnic texts considered in this study. Steven J. Belluscio uses the passing narrative to provide insight into how the representation of ethnic and racial subjectivity served, in part, to counter dominant narratives of difference.  

To Be Suddenly White offers new readings of traditional passing narratives from the African American literary tradition, such as James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, Nella Larsen’s Passing, and George Schuyler’s Black No More. It is also the first full-length work to consider a number of Jewish American and Italian American prose texts, such as Mary Antin’s The Promised Land, Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, and Guido d’Agostino’s Olives on the Apple Tree, as racial passing narratives in their own right. Belluscio also demonstrates the contradictions that result from the passing narrative’s exploration of racial subjectivity, racial difference, and race itself.

When they are seen in comparison, ideological differences begin to emerge between African American passing narratives and “white ethnic” (Jewish American and Italian American) passing narratives. According to Belluscio, the former are more likely to engage in a direct critique of ideas of race, while the latter have a tendency to become more simplistic acculturation narratives in which a character moves from a position of ethnic difference to one of full American identity.

The desire “to be suddenly white” serves as a continual point of reference for Belluscio, enabling him to analyze how writers, even when overtly aware of the problematic nature of race (especially African American writers), are also aware of the conditions it creates, the transformations it provokes, and the consequences of both. Byexamining the content and context of these works, Belluscio elucidates their engagement with discourses of racial and ethnic differences, assimilation, passing, and identity, an approach that has profound implications for the understanding of American literary history.
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Triangulations
Narrative Strategies for Navigating Latino Identity
David J. Vázquez
University of Minnesota Press, 2011

Just as mariners use triangulation, mapping an imaginary triangle between two known positions and an unknown location, so, David J. Vázquez contends, Latino authors in late twentieth-century America employ the coordinates of familiar ideas of self to find their way to new, complex identities. Through this metaphor, Vázquez reveals how Latino autobiographical texts, written after the rise of cultural nationalism in the 1960s, challenge mainstream notions of individual identity and national belonging in the United States.

In a traditional autobiographical work, the protagonist frequently opts out of his or her community. In the works that Vázquez analyzes in Triangulations, protagonists instead opt in to collective groups—often for the express political purpose of redefining that collective. Reading texts by authors such as Ernesto Galarza, Jesús Colón, Piri Thomas, Oscar “Zeta” Acosta, Judith Ortiz Cofer, John Rechy, Julia Alvarez, and Sandra Cisneros, Vázquez engages debates about the relationship between literature and social movements, the role of cultural nationalism in projects for social justice, the gender and sexual problematics of 1960s cultural nationalist groups, the possibilities for interethnic coalitions, and the interpretation of autobiography. In the process, Triangulations considers the potential for cultural nationalism as a productive force for aggrieved communities of color in their struggles for equality.

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Troubling Nationhood in U.S. Latina Literature
Explorations of Place and Belonging
Socolovsky, Maya
Rutgers University Press, 2013
This book examines the ways in which recent U.S. Latina literature challenges popular definitions of nationhood and national identity. It explores a group of feminist texts that are representative of the U.S. Latina literary boom of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, when an emerging group of writers gained prominence in mainstream and academic circles. Through close readings of select contemporary Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American works, Maya Socolovsky argues that these narratives are “remapping” the United States so that it is fully integrated within a larger, hemispheric Americas.

Looking at such concerns as nation, place, trauma, and storytelling, writers Denise Chavez, Sandra Cisneros, Esmeralda Santiago, Ana Castillo, Himilce Novas, and Judith Ortiz Cofer challenge popular views of Latino cultural “unbelonging” and make strong cases for the legitimate presence of Latinas/os within the United States. In this way, they also counter much of today’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

Imagining the U.S. as part of a broader "Americas," these writings trouble imperialist notions of nationhood, in which political borders and a long history of intervention and colonization beyond those borders have come to shape and determine the dominant culture's writing and the defining of all Latinos as "other" to the nation.
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Tudor Autobiography
Listening for Inwardness
Meredith Anne Skura
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Histories of autobiography in England often assume the genre hardly existed before 1600. But Tudor Autobiography investigates eleven sixteenth-century English writers who used sermons, a saint’s biography, courtly and popular verse, a traveler’s report, a history book, a husbandry book, and a supposedly fictional adventure novel to share the secrets of the heart and tell their life stories.
            In the past such texts have not been called autobiographies because they do not reveal much of the inwardness of their subject, a requisite of most modern autobiographies.  But, according to Meredith Anne Skura, writers reveal themselves not only by what they say but by how they say it. Borrowing methods from affective linguistics, narratology, and psychoanalysis, Skura shows that a writer’s thoughts and feelings can be traced in his or her language. Rejecting the search for “the early modern self” in life writing, Tudor Autobiography instead asks what authors said about themselves, who wrote about themselves, how, and why. The result is a fascinating glimpse into a range of lived and imagined experience that challenges assumptions about life and autobiography in the early modern period.
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Vergil's Aeneid and the Roman Self
Subject and Nation in Literary Discourse
Yasmin Syed
University of Michigan Press, 2005

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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William Blake on Self and Soul
Laura Quinney
Harvard University Press, 2009
It has been clear from the beginning that William Blake was both a political radical and a radical psychologist. In William Blake on Self and Soul, Laura Quinney uses her sensitive, surprising readings of the poet to reveal his innovative ideas about the experience of subjectivity.Blake’s central topic, Quinney shows us, is a contemporary one: the discomfiture of being a self or subject. The greater the insecurity of the “I” Blake believed, the more it tries to swell into a false but mighty “Selfhood.” And the larger the Selfhood bulks, the lonelier it grows. But why is that so? How is the illusion of “Selfhood” created? What damage does it do? How can one break its hold? These questions lead Blake to some of his most original thinking.Quinney contends that Blake’s hostility toward empiricism and Enlightenment philosophy is based on a penetrating psychological critique: Blake demonstrates that the demystifying science of empiricism deepens the self’s incoherence to itself. Though Blake formulates a therapy for the bewilderment of the self, as he goes on he perceives greater and greater obstacles to the remaking of subjectivity. By showing us this progression, Quinney shows us a Blake for our time.
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Women Reading Women Writing
Ann Louise Keating
Temple University Press, 1996


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