Abandoning the Black Hero is the first book to examine the postwar African American white-life novel—novels with white protagonists written by African Americans. These fascinating works have been understudied despite having been written by such defining figures in the tradition as Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Ann Petry, and Chester Himes, as well as lesser known but formerly best-selling authors Willard Motley and Frank Yerby.
John C. Charles argues that these fictions have been overlooked because they deviate from two critical suppositions: that black literature is always about black life and that when it represents whiteness, it must attack white supremacy. The authors are, however, quite sympathetic in the treatment of their white protagonists, which Charles contends should be read not as a failure of racial pride but instead as a strategy for claiming creative freedom, expansive moral authority, and critical agency.
In an era when “Negro writers” were expected to protest, their sympathetic treatment of white suffering grants these authors a degree of racial privacy previously unavailable to them. White writers, after all, have the privilege of racial privacy because they are never pressured to write only about white life. Charles reveals that the freedom to abandon the “Negro problem” encouraged these authors to explore a range of new genres and themes, generating a strikingly diverse body of novels that significantly revise our understanding of mid-twentieth-century black writing.
A hard-hitting look at the regulation of sexual difference and its role in circumscribing African American culture.
The sociology of race relations in America typically describes an intersection of poverty, race, and economic discrimination. But what is missing from the picture--sexual difference--can be as instructive as what is present. In this ambitious work, Roderick A. Ferguson reveals how the discourses of sexuality are used to articulate theories of racial difference in the field of sociology. He shows how canonical sociology--Gunnar Myrdal, Ernest Burgess, Robert Park, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and William Julius Wilson--has measured African Americans' unsuitability for a liberal capitalist order in terms of their adherence to the norms of a heterosexual and patriarchal nuclear family model. In short, to the extent that African Americans' culture and behavior deviated from those norms, they would not achieve economic and racial equality.
Aberrations in Black tells the story of canonical sociology's regulation of sexual difference as part of its general regulation of African American culture. Ferguson places this story within other stories--the narrative of capital's emergence and development, the histories of Marxism and revolutionary nationalism, and the novels that depict the gendered and sexual idiosyncrasies of African American culture--works by Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison. In turn, this book tries to present another story--one in which people who presumably manifest the dysfunctions of capitalism are reconsidered as indictments of the norms of state, capital, and social science. Ferguson includes the first-ever discussion of a new archival discovery--a never-published chapter of Invisible Man that deals with a gay character in a way that complicates and illuminates Ellison's project.
Unique in the way it situates critiques of race, gender, and sexuality within analyses of cultural, economic, and epistemological formations, Ferguson's work introduces a new mode of discourse--which Ferguson calls queer of color analysis--that helps to lay bare the mutual distortions of racial, economic, and sexual portrayals within sociology.
Roderick A. Ferguson is assistant professor of American studies at the University of Minnesota.
Sarah Parker Remond (1826–1894) left the free black community of Salem, Massachusetts, where she was born, to become one of the first women to travel on extensive lecture tours across the United Kingdom. Remond eventually moved to Florence, Italy, where she earned a degree at one of Europe’s most prestigious medical schools. Her language skills enabled her to join elite salons in Florence and Rome, where she entertained high society with musical soirees even while maintaining connections to European emancipation movements. Remond’s extensive travels and diverse acquaintances demonstrate that the nineteenth-century grand tour of Europe was not exclusively the privilege of white intellectuals but included African American travelers, among them women. This biography, based on international archival research, tells the fascinating story of how Remond forged a radical path, establishing relationships with fellow activists, artists, and intellectuals across Europe.
Today the images of Robert Burns and Abraham Lincoln are recognized worldwide, yet few are aware of the connection between the two. In Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns: Connected Lives and Legends, author Ferenc Morton Szasz reveals how famed Scots poet Robert Burns—and Scotland in general—influenced the life and thought of one of the most beloved and important U.S. presidents and how the legends of the two men became intertwined after their deaths. This is the first extensive work to link the influence, philosophy, and artistry of these two larger-than-life figures.
Lacking a major national poet of their own in the early nineteenth century, Americans in the fledgling frontier country ardently adopted the poignant verses and songs of Scotland’s Robert Burns. Lincoln, too, was fascinated by Scotland’s favorite son and enthusiastically quoted the Scottish bard from his teenage years to the end of his life. Szasz explores the ways in which Burns’s portrayal of the foibles of human nature, his scorn for religious hypocrisy, his plea for nonjudgmental tolerance, and his commitment to social equality helped shape Lincoln’s own philosophy of life. The volume also traces how Burns’s lyrics helped Lincoln develop his own powerful sense of oratorical rhythm, from his casual anecdotal stories to his major state addresses.
Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns connects the poor-farm-boy upbringings, the quasi-deistic religious views, the shared senses of destiny, the extraordinary gifts for words, and the quests for social equality of two respected and beloved world figures. This book is enhanced by twelve illustrations and two appendixes, which include Burns poems Lincoln particularly admired and Lincoln writings especially admired in Scotland.
Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas
Allen C. Guelzo, with a Foreword by Michael Lind Southern Illinois University Press, 2017 Library of Congress E457.2.G875 2009 | Dewey Decimal 973.7092
Despite the most meager of formal educations, Lincoln had a tremendous intellectual curiosity that drove him into the circle of Enlightenment philosophy and democratic political ideology. And from these, Lincoln developed a set of political convictions that guided him throughout his life and his presidency. This compilation of ten essays from Lincoln scholar Allen C. Guelzo uncovers the hidden sources of Lincoln’s ideas and examines the beliefs that directed his career and brought an end to slavery and the Civil War.
Donald E. Hall offers a self-help book designed for academics, from graduate students to tenured faculty. He helps readers engage in an active process of career management, goal setting, prioritization, and reflection on the norms that constitute what he calls “academic selfhood.” Drawing broadly on the insights of Anthony Giddens’ notions of reflexivity and self-identity, Hall encourages new and seasoned scholars to “own up to” the behaviors, attitudes, and complicities that compromise their professional identities. This book couples all its exhortations with clear, concrete, and practical strategies for responding productively to the many uncertainties of academic life.
Separate chapters of the book examine the textuality of the academic self, profession, academic processes and collegiality. Among the topics candidly discussed are careerism, burnout, procrastination, and insecurity. Throughout the book readers will find anecdotes, real-life examples, and concrete tips for constructing and maintaining a successful career defined on their own terms.
The Academic Self: An Owner’s Manual opens up a new and frank discussion on academic life and academics’ basic responsibility for their own actions and attitudes.
Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X—their words speak firmly, eloquently, personally of the impact of white America on the lives of African-Americans. Black autobiographical discourses, from the earliest slave narratives to the most contemporary urban raps, have each in their own way gauged and confronted the character of white society. For Crispin Sartwell, as philosopher, cultural critic, and white male, these texts, through their exacting insights and external perspective, provide a rare opportunity, a means of glimpsing and gaining access to contents and core of white identity.
There is, Sartwell contends, a fundamental elusiveness to that identity. Whiteness defines itself as normative, as a neutral form of the human condition, marking all other forms of identity as "racial" or "ethnic" deviations. Invisible to itself, white identity seeks to define its essence over and against those other identities, in effect defining itself through opposition and oppression. By maintaining fictions of black licentiousness, violence, and corruption, white identity is able to cast itself as humane, benevolent, and pure; the stereotype fabricates not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well. Sartwell argues that African-American autobiography perceives white identity from a particular and unique vantage point; one that is knowledgeable and intimate, yet fundamentally removed from the white world and thus unencumbered by its obfuscating claims to normativity.
Throughout this provocative work, Sartwell steadfastly recognizes the many ways in which he too is implicated in the formulation and perpetuation of racial attitudes and discourse. In Act Like You Know, he challenges both himself and others to take a long, hard look in the mirror of African-American autobiography, and to find there, in the light of those narratives, the visible features of white identity.
Activist Sentiments takes as its subject women who in fewer than fifty years moved from near literary invisibility to prolific productivity. Grounded in primary research and paying close attention to the historical archive, this book offers against-the-grain readings of the literary and activist work of Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Wilson, Frances E. W. Harper, Victoria Earle Matthews and Amelia E. Johnson.
Part literary criticism and part cultural history, Activist Sentiments examines nineteenth-century social, political, and representational literacies and reading practices. P. Gabrielle Foreman reveals how Black women's complex and confrontational commentary–often expressed directly in their journalistic prose and organizational involvement--emerges in their sentimental, and simultaneously political, literary production.
Professor Leahy recounts the academic tensions between religious beliefs and intellectual inquiry, and explore the social changes that have affected higher education and American Catholicism throughout this century. He attempts to explain why the significant growth of Catholic colleges and universities was not always matched by concomitant academic esteem in the larger world of American higher education.
The Addison Gayle Jr. Reader
Edited by Nathaniel Norment Jr. University of Illinois Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS153.N5G299 2009 | Dewey Decimal 810.9896073
This reader collects sixty of the personal essays, critical articles, and other seminal works of Addison Gayle Jr., one of the most influential figures in African American literary criticism and a key pioneer in the Black Arts/Black Aesthetic Movement. The volume contains selective essays that represent the range of Gayle's writing on such subjects as relationships between father and son, cultural nationalism, racism, black aesthetics, black criticism, and black literature. The collection, the first of its kind, includes definitive essays such as "Blueprint for Black Criticism," "The Harlem Renaissance: Toward a Black Aesthetic," and "Cultural Strangulation: Black Literature and the White Aesthetics."
In The Affinity of the Eye: Writing Nikkei in Peru, Ignacio López-Calvo rises above the political emergence of the Fujimori phenomenon and uses politics and literature to provide one of the first comprehensive looks at how the Japanese assimilated and inserted themselves into Peruvian culture. Through contemporary writers’ testimonies, essays, fiction, and poetry, López-Calvo constructs an account of the cultural formation of Japanese migrant communities. With deftly sensitive interviews and comments, he portrays the difficulties of being a Japanese Peruvian. Despite a few notable examples, Asian Peruvians have been excluded from a sense of belonging or national identity in Peru, which provides López-Calvo with the opportunity to record what the community says about their own cultural production. In so doing, López-Calvo challenges fixed notions of Japanese Peruvian identity.
The Affinity of the Eye scrutinizes authors such as José Watanabe, Fernando Iwasaki, Augusto Higa, Doris Moromisato, and Carlos Yushimito, discussing their literature and their connections to the past, present, and future. Whether these authors push against or accept what it means to be Japanese Peruvians, they enrich the images and feelings of that experience. Through a close reading of literary and cultural productions, López-Calvo’s analysis challenges and reframes the parameters of being Nikkei in Peru.
Covering both Japanese issues in Peru and Peruvian issues in Japan, the book is more than a compendium of stories, characters, and titles. It proves the fluid, enriching, and ongoing relationship that exists between Peru and Japan.
Satire's real purpose as a literary genre is to criticize through humor, irony, caricature, and parody, and ultimately to defy the status quo. In African American Satire, Darryl Dickson-Carr provides the first book-length study of African American satire and the vital role it has played. In the process he investigates African American literature, American literature, and the history of satire.
Dickson-Carr argues that major works by such authors as Rudolph Fisher, Ishmael Reed, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, and George S. Schuyler should be read primarily as satires in order to avoid misinterpretation and to gain a greater understanding of their specific meanings and the eras in which they were written. He also examines the satirical rhetoric and ideological bases of complex works such as John Oliver Killens's The Cotillion and Cecil Brown's The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger—books that are currently out of print and that have received only scant critical attention since they were first published.
Beginning with the tradition of folk humor that originated in West Africa and was forcibly transplanted to the Americas through chattel slavery, Dickson-Carr focuses in each chapter on a particular period of the twentieth century in which the African American satirical novel flourished. He analyzes the historical contexts surrounding African American literature and culture within discrete crucial movements, starting with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and ending in the present. He also demonstrates how the political, cultural, and literary ethos of each particular moment is manifested and contested in each text.
By examining these texts closely within their historical and ideological contexts, Dickson-Carr shows how African American satirical novels provide the reader of African American literature with a critique of popular ideologies seldom found in nonsatirical works. Providing a better understanding of what satire is and why it is so important for fulfilling many of the goals of African American literature, African American Satire will be an important addition to African American studies.
Decades after independence for most African states, the struggle for decolonization is still incomplete, as demonstrated by the fact that Africa remains associated in many Western minds with chaos, illness, and disorder. African and non-African scholars alike still struggle to establish the idea of African humanity, in all its diversity, and to move Africa beyond its historical role as the foil to the West.
As this book shows, Africa’s decolonization is an ongoing process across a range of fronts, and intellectuals—both African and non-African—have significant roles to play in that process. The essays collected here examine issues such as representation and retrospection; the roles of intellectuals in the public sphere; and the fundamental question of how to decolonize African knowledges. African Intellectuals and Decolonization outlines ways in which intellectual practice can serve to de-link Africa from its global representation as a debased, subordinated, deviant, and inferior entity.
Contributors Lesley Cowling, University of the Witwatersrand Nicholas M. Creary, University at Albany Marlene De La Cruz, Ohio University Carolyn Hamilton, University of Cape Town George Hartley, Ohio University Janet Hess, Sonoma State University T. Spreelin McDonald, Ohio University Ebenezer Adebisi Olawuyi, University of Ibadan Steve Odero Ouma, University of Nairobi Oyeronke Oyewumi, State University of New York
at Stony Brook Tsenay Serequeberhan, Morgan State University
During the early national and antebellum eras, black leaders in New York City confronted the tenuous nature of Northern emancipation. Despite the hope of freedom, black New Yorkers faced a series of sociopolitical issues including the persistence of Southern slavery, the threat of forced removal, racial violence, and the denial of American citizenship. Even efforts to create community space within the urban landscape, such as the African Burial Ground and Seneca Village, were eventually demolished to make way for the city's rapid development. In this illuminating history, Leslie M. Alexander chronicles the growth and development of black activism in New York from the formation of the first black organization, the African Society, in 1784 to the eve of the Civil War in 1861. In this critical period, black activists sought to formulate an effective response to their unequal freedom. Examining black newspapers, speeches, and organizational records, this study documents the creation of mutual relief, religious, and political associations, which black men and women infused with African cultural traditions and values.
As Alexander reveals, conflicts over early black political strategy foreshadowed critical ideological struggles that would bedevil the black leadership for generations to come. Initially, black leaders advocated racial uplift through a sense of communalism and connection to their African heritage. Yet by the antebellum era, black activists struggled to reconcile their African identity with a growing desire to gain American citizenship. Ultimately, this battle resulted in competing agendas; while some leaders argued that the black community should dedicate themselves to moral improvement and American citizenship, others began to consider emigrating to Africa or Haiti. In the end, the black leadership resolved to assert an American identity and to expand their mission for full equality and citizenship in the United States. This decision marked a crucial turning point in black political strategy, for it signaled a new phase in the quest for racial advancement and fostered the creation of a nascent Black Nationalism.
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.
With contributions from activists, artists, and scholars, Afro Asia is a groundbreaking collection of writing on the historical alliances, cultural connections, and shared political strategies linking African Americans and Asian Americans. Bringing together autobiography, poetry, scholarly criticism, and other genres, this volume represents an activist vanguard in the cultural struggle against oppression.
Afro Asia opens with analyses of historical connections between people of African and of Asian descent. An account of nineteenth-century Chinese laborers who fought against slavery and colonialism in Cuba appears alongside an exploration of African Americans’ reactions to and experiences of the Korean “conflict.” Contributors examine the fertile period of Afro-Asian exchange that began around the time of the 1955 Bandung Conference, the first meeting of leaders from Asian and African nations in the postcolonial era. One assesses the relationship of two important 1960s Asian American activists to Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. Mao Ze Dong’s 1963 and 1968 statements in support of black liberation are juxtaposed with an overview of the influence of Maoism on African American leftists.
Turning to the arts, Ishmael Reed provides a brief account of how he met and helped several Asian American writers. A Vietnamese American spoken-word artist describes the impact of black hip-hop culture on working-class urban Asian American youth. Fred Ho interviews Bill Cole, an African American jazz musician who plays Asian double-reed instruments. This pioneering collection closes with an array of creative writing, including poetry, memoir, and a dialogue about identity and friendship that two writers, one Japanese American and the other African American, have performed around the United States.
Contributors: Betsy Esch, Diane C. Fujino, royal hartigan, Kim Hewitt, Cheryl Higashida, Fred Ho, Everett Hoagland, Robin D. G. Kelley, Bill V. Mullen, David Mura, Ishle Park, Alexs Pate, Thien-bao Thuc Phi, Ishmael Reed, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Maya Almachar Santos, JoYin C. Shih, Ron Wheeler, Daniel Widener, Lisa Yun
Featuring the work of the most distinguished scholars in the field, this volume assesses the state of Afro-American literary study and projects a vision of that study for the 1990s. "A rich and rewarding collection."—Choice.
"This diverse and inspired collection . . . testifies to the Afro-Am academy's extraordinary vitality."—Voice Literary Supplement
The politics and music of the sixties and early seventies have been the subject of scholarship for many years, but it is only very recently that attention has turned to the cultural production of African American poets.
In "After Mecca," Cheryl Clarke explores the relationship between the Black Arts Movement and black women writers of the period. Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, Ntozake Shange, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Alice Walker, and others chart the emergence of a new and distinct black poetry and its relationship to the black community's struggle for rights and liberation. Clarke also traces the contributions of these poets to the development of feminism and lesbian-feminism, and the legacy they left for others to build on.
She argues that whether black women poets of the time were writing from within the movement or writing against it, virtually all were responding to it. Using the trope of "Mecca," she explores the ways in which these writers were turning away from white, western society to create a new literacy of blackness.
Provocatively written, this book is an important contribution to the fields of African American literary studies and feminist theory.
During the age of dictatorships, Latin American prisons became a symbol for the vanquishing of political opponents, many of whom were never seen again. In the postdictatorship era of the 1990s, a number of these prisons were repurposed into shopping malls, museums, and memorials. Susana Draper uses the phenomenon of the “opening” of prisons and detention centers to begin a dialog on conceptualizations of democracy and freedom in post-dictatorship Latin America. Focusing on the Southern Cone nations of Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, Draper examines key works in architecture, film, and literature to peel away the veiled continuity of dictatorial power structures in ensuing consumer cultures.
The afterlife of prisons became an important tool in the “forgetting” of past politics, while also serving as a reminder to citizens of the liberties they now enjoyed. In Draper’s analysis, these symbols led the populace to believe they had attained freedom, although they had only witnessed the veneer of democracy—in the ability to vote and consume.
In selected literary works by Roberto Bolaño, Eleuterio Fernández Huidoboro, and Diamela Eltit and films by Alejandro Agresti and Marco Bechis, Draper finds further evidence of the emptiness and melancholy of underachieved goals in the afterlife of dictatorships. The social changes that did not occur, the inability to effectively mourn the losses of a now-hidden past, the homogenizing effects of market economies, and a yearning for the promises of true freedom are thematic currents underlying much of these texts.
Draper’s study of the manipulation of culture and consumerism under the guise of democracy will have powerful implications not only for Latin Americanists but also for those studying neoliberal transformations globally.
Just over a thousand years ago, the Song dynasty emerged as the most advanced civilization on earth. Within two centuries, China was home to nearly half of all humankind. In this concise history, we learn why the inventiveness of this era has been favorably compared with the European Renaissance, which in many ways the Song transformation surpassed.
With the chaotic dissolution of the Tang dynasty, the old aristocratic families vanished. A new class of scholar-officials—products of a meritocratic examination system—took up the task of reshaping Chinese tradition by adapting the precepts of Confucianism to a rapidly changing world. Through fiscal reforms, these elites liberalized the economy, eased the tax burden, and put paper money into circulation. Their redesigned capitals buzzed with traders, while the education system offered advancement to talented men of modest means. Their rationalist approach led to inventions in printing, shipbuilding, weaving, ceramics manufacture, mining, and agriculture. With a realist’s eye, they studied the natural world and applied their observations in art and science. And with the souls of diplomats, they chose peace over war with the aggressors on their borders. Yet persistent military threats from these nomadic tribes—which the Chinese scorned as their cultural inferiors—redefined China’s understanding of its place in the world and solidified a sense of what it meant to be Chinese.
The Age of Confucian Rule is an essential introduction to this transformative era. “A scholar should congratulate himself that he has been born in such a time” (Zhao Ruyu, 1194).
Age of Entanglement
Kris Manjapra Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress DS428.M36 2014 | Dewey Decimal 303.48243054
Age of Entanglement explores the patterns of connection linking German and Indian intellectuals from the nineteenth century to the years after the Second World War. Kris Manjapra traces the intersecting ideas and careers of philologists, physicists, poets, economists, and others who shared ideas, formed networks, and studied one another's worlds. Moving beyond well-rehearsed critiques of colonialism, this study recasts modern intellectual history in terms of the knotted intellectual itineraries of seeming strangers.
Collaborations in the sciences, arts, and humanities produced extraordinary meetings of German and Indian minds. Meghnad Saha met Albert Einstein, Stella Kramrisch brought the Bauhaus to Calcutta, and Girindrasekhar Bose began a correspondence with Sigmund Freud. Rabindranath Tagore traveled to Germany to recruit scholars for a new university, and Himanshu Rai worked with Franz Osten to establish movie studios in Bombay. These interactions, Manjapra argues, evinced shared responses to the hegemony of the British empire. Germans and Indians hoped to find in one another the tools needed to disrupt an Anglocentric world order. As Manjapra demonstrates, transnational encounters are not inherently progressive. From Orientalism to Aryanism to scientism, German-Indian entanglements were neither necessarily liberal nor conventionally cosmopolitan, often characterized as much by manipulation as by genuine cooperation.
Age of Fracture
Daniel T. Rodgers Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress E169.12.R587 2011 | Dewey Decimal 973.91
Rodgers presents the first broadly gauged history of the ideas and arguments that profoundly reshaped America in the last quarter of the twentieth century. From the ways in which Ronald Reagan changed the formulas of the Cold War presidency to the era’s intense debates over gender, race, economics, and history, it maps the dynamics through which mid-twentieth-century ideas of structure fell apart between the mid 1970s and the end of the century. Where conventional histories of modern America have focused on specific decades, the book traces the larger transformations in social ideas and visions that reshaped the era from the early 1970s through the end of the century.
Though the activities of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were unified in their common idea of resistance to oppression, these groups fought their battles on multiple fronts. The NAACP filed lawsuits and aggressively lobbied Congress and state legislatures, while Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC challenged the racial status quo through nonviolent mass action, and the SNCC focused on community empowerment activities. In Agitations, Kevin Anderson studies these various activities in order to trace the ideological foundations of these groups and to understand how diversity among African Americans created multiple political strategies.
Agitations goes beyond the traditionally acknowledged divide between integrationist and accommodationist wings of African American politics to explore the diverse fundamental ideologies and strategic outcomes among African American activists that still define, influence, and complicate political life today.
Alien Encounters showcases innovative directions in Asian American cultural studies. In essays exploring topics ranging from pulp fiction to multimedia art to import-car subcultures, contributors analyze Asian Americans’ interactions with popular culture as both creators and consumers. Written by a new generation of cultural critics, these essays reflect post-1965 Asian America; the contributors pay nuanced attention to issues of gender, sexuality, transnationality, and citizenship, and they unabashedly take pleasure in pop culture.
This interdisciplinary collection brings together contributors working in Asian American studies, English, anthropology, sociology, and art history. They consider issues of cultural authenticity raised by Asian American participation in hip hop and jazz, the emergence of an orientalist “Indo-chic” in U.S. youth culture, and the circulation of Vietnamese music variety shows. They examine the relationship between Chinese restaurants and American culture, issues of sexuality and race brought to the fore in the video performance art of a Bruce Lee–channeling drag king, and immigrant television viewers’ dismayed reactions to a Chinese American chef who is “not Chinese enough.” The essays in Alien Encounters demonstrate the importance of scholarly engagement with popular culture. Taking popular culture seriously reveals how people imagine and express their affective relationships to history, identity, and belonging.
Contributors. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Kevin Fellezs, Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, Joan Kee, Nhi T. Lieu, Sunaina Maira, Martin F. Manalansan IV, Mimi Thi Nguyen, Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Sukhdev Sandhu, Christopher A. Shinn, Indigo Som, Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu, Oliver Wang
John V. Glass III Catholic University of America Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3539.A74Z655 2016 | Dewey Decimal 818.5209
This study reconsiders and reassesses the work of Allen Tate as a poet whose themes and expression place him among the most studied and canonical Modernists of the last century. Allen Tate (1899-1979), a former Poet Laureate of the US, although generally regarded during his lifetime as one of the twentieth century's preeminent literary critics and men of letters, has been largely overlooked by critics in the years since his death. John V. Glass III rectifies this by tracing the development of Tate's thought and verse from his early years as a student at Vanderbilt in the 1920s through his final terza-rima sequence completed in the 1950s. Tate's poetry in the intervening years charts the course of an American modernist who brings to bear on the problems of his age the unique perspective of a southerner, one who refuses either to accept sentimentality or to repudiate the past in his search for a solution to the dissociation of sensibility.
Along the Streets of Bronzeville examines the flowering of African American creativity, activism, and scholarship in the South Side Chicago district known as Bronzeville during the period between the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. Poverty stricken, segregated, and bursting at the seams with migrants, Bronzeville was the community that provided inspiration, training, and work for an entire generation of diversely talented African American authors and artists who came of age during the years between the two world wars. In this significant recovery project, Elizabeth Schroeder Schlabach investigates the institutions and streetscapes of Black Chicago that fueled an entire literary and artistic movement. She argues that African American authors and artists--such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, painter Archibald Motley, and many others--viewed and presented black reality from a specific geographic vantage point: the view along the streets of Bronzeville. Schlabach explores how the particular rhythms and scenes of daily life in Bronzeville locations, such as the State Street "Stroll" district or the bustling intersection of 47th Street and South Parkway, figured into the creative works and experiences of the artists and writers of the Black Chicago Renaissance.
In 1940 seven-year-old Tony Bailey was evacuated to the United States—one of more than 16,000 children sent overseas at a time when a Nazi invasion of England seemed inevitable. He spent four years with the wealthy Spaeth family in Dayton, Ohio, before returning to his parents in Southampton. Evocative, heartfelt, and charming, this is a story of a double childhood—of a boy who became American while never ceasing to be British.
"An original, sensitively told story in which the perspectives of the child are carefully remembered. . . . Bailey's book speaks, with gentle eloquence, not only to those who remember being boys, but to everyone who would seek to protect children from the hurts and ravagings that ordinary life can inflict, to say nothing of war." —Richard Montague, Newsday
"No doubt Tony Bailey owed America something for its hospitality during those anxious years, and with this book he has amply repaid the debt." —Joseph McLellan, Washington Post
"An exquisitely controlled, quietly amusing and moving story." —Publishers Weekly
"As tender as it is truthful, and as amusing as it is unpretentious." —John Russell, New York Times Book Review
In the midst of the Great Depression, Americans were nearly universally literate—and they were hungry for the written word. Magazines, novels, and newspapers littered the floors of parlors and tenements alike. With an eye to this market and as a response to devastating unemployment, Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration created the Federal Writers’ Project. The Project’s mission was simple: jobs. But, as Wendy Griswold shows in the lively and persuasive American Guides, the Project had a profound—and unintended—cultural impact that went far beyond the writers’ paychecks.
Griswold’s subject here is the Project’s American Guides, an impressively produced series that set out not only to direct travelers on which routes to take and what to see throughout the country, but also to celebrate the distinctive characteristics of each individual state. Griswold finds that the series unintentionally diversified American literary culture’s cast of characters—promoting women, minority, and rural writers—while it also institutionalized the innovative idea that American culture comes in state-shaped boxes. Griswold’s story alters our customary ideas about cultural change as a gradual process, revealing how diversity is often the result of politically strategic decisions and bureaucratic logic, as well as of the conflicts between snobbish metropolitan intellectuals and stubborn locals. American Guides reveals the significance of cultural federalism and the indelible impact that the Federal Writers’ Project continues to have on the American literary landscape.
Although much contemporary American Indian literature examines the relationship between humans and the land, most Native authors do not set their work in the "pristine wilderness" celebrated by mainstream nature writers. Instead, they focus on settings such as reservations, open-pit mines, and contested borderlands. Drawing on her own teaching experience among Native Americans and on lessons learned from such recent scenes of confrontation as Chiapas and Black Mesa, Joni Adamson explores why what counts as "nature" is often very different for multicultural writers and activist groups than it is for mainstream environmentalists.
This powerful book is one of the first to examine the intersections between literature and the environment from the perspective of the oppressions of race, class, gender, and nature, and the first to review American Indian literature from the standpoint of environmental justice and ecocriticism. By examining such texts as Sherman Alexie's short stories and Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Almanac of the Dead, Adamson contends that these works, in addition to being literary, are examples of ecological criticism that expand Euro-American concepts of nature and place.
Adamson shows that when we begin exploring the differences that shape diverse cultural and literary representations of nature, we discover the challenge they present to mainstream American culture, environmentalism, and literature. By comparing the work of Native authors such as Simon Ortiz with that of environmental writers such as Edward Abbey, she reveals opportunities for more multicultural conceptions of nature and the environment.
More than a work of literary criticism, this is a book about the search to find ways to understand our cultural and historical differences and similarities in order to arrive at a better agreement of what the human role in nature is and should be. It exposes the blind spots in early ecocriticism and shows the possibilities for building common ground— a middle place— where writers, scholars, teachers, and environmentalists might come together to work for social and environmental change.
If you were looking for a philosopher likely to appeal to Americans, Friedrich Nietzsche would be far from your first choice. After all, in his blazing career, Nietzsche took aim at nearly all the foundations of modern American life: Christian morality, the Enlightenment faith in reason, and the idea of human equality. Despite that, for more than a century Nietzsche has been a hugely popular—and surprisingly influential—figure in American thought and culture.
In American Nietzsche, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen delves deeply into Nietzsche's philosophy, and America’s reception of it, to tell the story of his curious appeal. Beginning her account with Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom the seventeen-year-old Nietzsche read fervently, she shows how Nietzsche’s ideas first burst on American shores at the turn of the twentieth century, and how they continued alternately to invigorate and to shock Americans for the century to come. She also delineates the broader intellectual and cultural contexts within which a wide array of commentators—academic and armchair philosophers, theologians and atheists, romantic poets and hard-nosed empiricists, and political ideologues and apostates from the Left and the Right—drew insight and inspiration from Nietzsche’s claims for the death of God, his challenge to universal truth, and his insistence on the interpretive nature of all human thought and beliefs. At the same time, she explores how his image as an iconoclastic immoralist was put to work in American popular culture, making Nietzsche an unlikely posthumous celebrity capable of inspiring both teenagers and scholars alike.
A penetrating examination of a powerful but little-explored undercurrent of twentieth-century American thought and culture, American Nietzsche dramatically recasts our understanding of American intellectual life—and puts Nietzsche squarely at its heart.
Surveying the American fascination with the Far East since the mid-eighteenth century, this book explains why the Orient had a fundamentally different meaning in the United States than in Europe or Great Britain. David Weir argues that unlike their European counterparts, Americans did not treat the East simply as a site of imperialist adventure; on the contrary, colonial subjugation was an experience that early Americans shared with the peoples of China and India. In eighteenth-century America, the East was, paradoxically, a means of reinforcing the enlightenment values of the West: Franklin, Jefferson, and other American writers found in Confucius a complement to their own political and philosophical beliefs. In the nineteenth century, with the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy, the Hindu Orient emerged as a mystical alternative to American reality. During this period, Emerson, Thoreau, and other Transcendentalists viewed the “Oriental” not as an exotic other but as an image of what Americans could be, if stripped of all the commercialism and materialism that set them apart from their ideal. A similar sense of Oriental otherness informed the aesthetic discoveries of the early twentieth century, as Pound, Eliot, and other poets found in Chinese and Japanese literature an artistic purity and intensity absent from Western tradition. For all of these figures the Orient became a complex fantasy that allowed them to overcome something objectionable, either in themselves or in the culture of which they were a part, in order to attain some freer, more genuine form of philosophical, religious, or artistic expression.
"This book can take its place on the shelf beside Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land and Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden."—Choice
"[Gilmore] demonstrates the profound, sustained, engagement with society embodied in the works of Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and Melville. In effect, he relocates the American Renaissance where it properly belongs, at the centre of a broad social, economic, and ideological movement from the Jacksonian era to the Civil War. Basically, Gilmore's argument concerns the writers' participation in what Thoreau called 'the curse of trade.' He details their mixed resistance to and complicity in the burgeoning literary marketplace and, by extension, the entire ' economic revolution' which between 1830 and 1860 'transformed the United States into a market society'. . . .
"The result is a model of literary-historical revisionism. Gilmore's opening chapters on Emerson and Thoreau show that 'transcendental' thought and language can come fully alive when understood within the material processes and ideological constraints of their time. . . . The remaining five chapters, on Hawthorne and Melville, contain some of the most penetrating recent commentaries on the aesthetic strategies of American Romantic fiction, presented within and through some of the most astute, thoughtful considerations I know of commodification and the 'democratic public' in mid-nineteenth-century America. . . . Practically and methodologically, American Romanticism and the Marketplace has a significant place in the movement towards a new American literary history. It places Gilmore at the forefront of a new generation of critics who are not just reinterpreting familiar texts or discovering new texts to interpret, but reshaping our ways of thinking about literature and culture."—Sacvan Bercovitch, Times Literary Supplement
"Gilmore writes with energy, clarity, and wit. The reader is enriched by this book." William H. Shurr, American Literature
Shows how American scientists emerged from a disorganized group of amateurs into a professional body sharing a common orientation and common goals
In this first effort to define an American scientific community, originally published in 1968, George Daniels has chosen for special study the 56 scientists most published in the 16 scientific journals identified as “national” during the period 1815 to 1845. In this reprint edition, with a new preface and introduction, Daniels shows how American scientists emerged from a disorganized group of amateurs into a professional body sharing a common orientation and common goals.
A forthright look at the future of the discipline in the wake of immense social changes.
What becomes of "national knowledge" in our age of globalization? If dramatic changes in technology, commerce, and social relations are undermining familiar connections between culture and place, what happens to legacies of learning that put the nation at the center of the study of history, culture, language, politics, and geography? In short, what remains of American Studies? At a critical moment, this book offers a richly textured historical perspective on where our notions of national knowledge-and our sense of American Studies-have come from and where they may lead in a future of new ideas about culture and community.
The America that seems to be disappearing before our very eyes is, George Lipsitz argues, actually the cumulative creation of yesterday's struggles over identity, culture, and power. With examples from statistics and history, poster designs and music lyrics, Lipsitz shows how American Studies has been shaped by the social movements of the 1930s, 1960s, and 1980s. His analysis reveals the sedimented history of social movement contestation contained in contemporary popular music, visual art, and cinema.
Finally, Lipsitz identifies the ways in which the globalization of commerce and culture are producing radically new understandings of politics, performance, consumption, knowledge, and nostalgia; the changing realities present not so much a danger as a clear challenge to a still-evolving American Studies--a challenge that this book helps us to confront wisely, flexibly, and effectively.
George Lipsitz is professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego, where he serves as director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute. He is the author of many books, including Time Passages, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (1998), and Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism, and the Poetics of Place (1997). He also edited Stan Weir's Singlejack Solidarity (2004).
The blossoming of Appalachian studies began some thirty years ago. Thousands of young people from the hills have since been made aware of their region’s rich literary tradition through high school and college courses. An entire generation has discovered that their own landscapes, families, and communities had been truthfully portrayed by writers whose background was similar to their own.
An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature is an anthology of literary criticism of Appalachian novelists, poets, and playwrights. The book reprises critical writing of influential authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Cratis Williams, and Jim Wayne Miller. It introduces new writing by Rodger Cunningham, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and others.
Many writers from the mountains have found success and acclaim outside the region, but the region itself as a thriving center of literary creativity has not been widely appreciated. The editors of An American Vein have remedied this, producing the first general collection of Appalachian literary criticism. This book is a resource for those who teach and read Appalachian literature. What’s more, it holds the promise of introducing new readers, nationally and internationally, to Appalachian literature and its relevance to our times.
Whom, or what, does composition—defined here as an intentional process of study, either oral or written—serve? Bradford T. Stull contends that composition would do well to articulate, in theory and practice, what could be called "emancipatory composition." He argues that emancipatory composition is radically theopolitical: it roots itself in the foundational theological and political language of the American experience while it subverts this language in order to emancipate the oppressed and, thereby, the oppressors.
To articulate this vision, Stull looks to those who compose from an oppressed place, finding in the works of W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X radical theopolitical practices that can serve as a model for emancipatory composition. While Stull acknowledges that there are many sites of oppression, he focuses on what Du Bois has called the problem of the twentieth century: the color line, positing that the unique and foundational nature of the color line provides a fecund place in which, from which, a theory and practice of emancipatory composition might be elucidated.
By focusing on four key theopolitical tropes—The Fall, The Orient, Africa, and Eden—that inform the work of Du Bois, King, and Malcolm X, Stull discovers the ways in which these civil rights leaders root themselves in the vocabulary of the American experience in order to subvert it so that they might promote emancipation for African Americans, and thus all Americans.
In drawing on the work of Paulo Freire, Kenneth Burke, Edward Said, Christopher Miller, Ernst Bloch, and others, Stull also locates this study within the larger cultural context. By reading Du Bois, King, and Malcolm X together in a way that they have never before been read, Stull presents a new vision of composition practice to the African American studies community and a reading of African American emancipatory composition to the rhetoric and composition community, thus extending the question of emancipatory composition into new territory.
Amy Levy: Critical Essays
Naomi Hetherington Ohio University Press, 2010 Library of Congress PR4886.L25Z56 2010 | Dewey Decimal 828.809
Amy Levy has risen to prominence in recent years as one of the most innovative and perplexing writers of her generation. Embraced by feminist scholars for her radical experimentation with queer poetic voice and her witty journalistic pieces on female independence, she remains controversial for her representations of London Jewry that draw unmistakably on contemporary antisemitic discourse.
Amy Levy: Critical Essays brings together scholars working in the fields of Victorian cultural history, women’s poetry and fiction, and the history of Anglo-Jewry. The essays trace the social, intellectual, and political contexts of Levy’s writing and its contemporary reception. Working from close analyses of Levy’s texts, the collection aims to rethink her engagement with Jewish identity, to consider her literary and political identifications, to assess her representations of modern consumer society and popular culture, and to place her life and work within late-Victorian cultural debate.
This book is essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students offering both a comprehensive literature review of scholarship-to-date and a range of new critical perspectives.
Susan David Bernstein,University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gail Cunningham,Kingston University
Elizabeth F. Evans,Pennslyvania State University–DuBois
Emma Francis,Warwick University
Alex Goody,Oxford Brookes University
T. D. Olverson,University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Lyssa Randolph,University of Wales, Newport
Meri-Jane Rochelson,Florida International University
After a century of critical neglect, poet and writer Amy Levy is gaining recognition as a literary figure of stature.
This definitive biography accompanied by her letters, along with the recent publication of her selected writings, provides a critical appreciation of Levy’s importance in her own time and in ours.
As an educated Jewish woman with homoerotic desires, Levy felt the strain of combating the structures of British society in the 1880s, the decade in which she built her career and moved in London’s literary and bohemian circles. Unwilling to cut herself off from her Jewish background, she had the additional burden of attempting to bridge the gap between communities.
In Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters Linda Hunt Beckman examines Levy’s writings and other cultural documents for insight into her emotional and intellectual life. This groundbreaking study introduces us to a woman well deserving of a place in literary and cultural history.
As the end of the century approaches, many predict our fin de siècle will mirror the nineteenth-century decline into decadence. But a better model for the 1990s is to be found, according to Joan DeJean, in the culture wars of France in the 1690s—the time of a battle of the books known as the Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns.
DeJean brilliantly reassesses our current culture wars from the perspective of that earlier fin de siècle (the first to think of itself as such), and rereads the seventeenth-century Quarrel from the vantage of our own warring "ancients" and "moderns." In so doing, DeJean shows that a fin de siècle taking place in the shadow of culture wars can be more a source of constructive cultural revolution than of apocalyptic gloom and doom. Just as the first fin de siècle's battle of the books served as the spark that set off the Enlightenment, introducing radically new sexual and social politics that laid the groundwork for modernity, so can our current culture wars result in radical, liberating changes—if we take an active stand against our own "ancients" who seek to stifle such reforms.
In The Andes Imagined, Jorge Coronado not only examines but also recasts the indigenismo movement of the early 1900s. Coronado departs from the common critical conception of indigenismo as rooted in novels and short stories, and instead analyzes an expansive range of work in poetry, essays, letters, newspaper writing, and photography. He uses this evidence to show how the movement's artists and intellectuals mobilize the figure of the Indian to address larger questions about becoming modern, and he focuses on the contradictions at the heart of indigenismo as a cultural, social, and political movement.
By breaking down these different perspectives, Coronado reveals an underlying current in which intellectuals and artists frequently deployed their indigenous subject in order to imagine new forms of political inclusion. He suggests that these deployments rendered particular variants of modernity and make indigenismo representational practices a privileged site for the examination of the region's cultural negotiation of modernization. His analysis reveals a paradox whereby the un-modern indio becomes the symbol for the modern itself.
The Andes Imagined offers an original and broadly based engagement with indigenismo and its intellectual contributions, both in relation to early twentieth-century Andean thought and to larger questions of theorizing modernity.
This book is a project in comparative history, but along two distinct axes, one historical and the other historiographical. Its purpose is to constructively juxtapose the early modern European and Chinese approaches to historical study that have been called "antiquarian." As an exercise in historical recovery, the essays in this volume amass new information about the range of antiquarian-type scholarship on the past, on nature, and on peoples undertaken at either end of the Eurasian landmass between 1500 and 1800. As a historiographical project, the book challenges the received---and often very much under conceptualized---use of the term "antiquarian" in both European and Chinese contexts. Readers will not only learn more about the range of European and Chinese scholarship on the past---and especially the material past---but they will also be able to integrate some of the historiographical observations and corrections into new ways of conceiving of the history of historical scholarship in Europe since the Renaissance, and to reflect on the impact of these European terms on Chinese approaches to the Chinese past. This comparison is a two-way street, with the European tradition clarified by knowledge of Chinese practices, and Chinese approaches better understood when placed alongside the European ones.
The Harlem Renaissance was a watershed moment for racial uplift, poetic innovation, sexual liberation, and female empowerment. Aphrodite’s Daughters introduces us to three amazing women who were at the forefront of all these developments, poetic iconoclasts who pioneered new and candidly erotic forms of female self-expression.
Maureen Honey paints a vivid portrait of three African American women—Angelina Weld Grimké, Gwendolyn B. Bennett, and Mae V. Cowdery—who came from very different backgrounds but converged in late 1920s Harlem to leave a major mark on the literary landscape. She examines the varied ways these poets articulated female sexual desire, ranging from Grimké’s invocation of a Sapphic goddess figure to Cowdery’s frank depiction of bisexual erotics to Bennett’s risky exploration of the borders between sexual pleasure and pain. Yet Honey also considers how they were united in their commitment to the female body as a primary source of meaning, strength, and transcendence.
The product of extensive archival research, Aphrodite’s Daughters draws from Grimké, Bennett, and Cowdery’s published and unpublished poetry, along with rare periodicals and biographical materials, to immerse us in the lives of these remarkable women and the world in which they lived. It thus not only shows us how their artistic contributions and cultural interventions were vital to their own era, but also demonstrates how the poetic heart of their work keeps on beating.
Performance artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson’s provocative study examines how blackness is appropriated and performed—toward widely divergent ends—both within and outside African American culture. Appropriating Blackness develops from the contention that blackness in the United States is necessarily a politicized identity—avowed and disavowed, attractive and repellent, fixed and malleable. Drawing on performance theory, queer studies, literary analysis, film criticism, and ethnographic fieldwork, Johnson describes how diverse constituencies persistently try to prescribe the boundaries of "authentic" blackness and how performance highlights the futility of such enterprises.
Johnson looks at various sites of performed blackness, including Marlon Riggs’s influential documentary Black Is . . . Black Ain’t and comedic routines by Eddie Murphy, David Alan Grier, and Damon Wayans. He analyzes nationalist writings by Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver, the vernacular of black gay culture, an oral history of his grandmother’s experience as a domestic worker in the South, gospel music as performed by a white Australian choir, and pedagogy in a performance studies classroom. By exploring the divergent aims and effects of these performances—ranging from resisting racism, sexism, and homophobia to excluding sexual dissidents from the black community—Johnson deftly analyzes the multiple significations of blackness and their myriad political implications. His reflexive account considers his own complicity, as ethnographer and teacher, in authenticating narratives of blackness.
The Art of Transition addresses the problems defined by writers and artists during the postdictatorship years in Argentina and Chile, years in which both countries aggressively adopted neoliberal market-driven economies. Delving into the conflicting efforts of intellectuals to name and speak to what is real, Francine Masiello interprets the culture of this period as an art of transition, referring to both the political transition to democracy and the formal strategies of wrestling with this change that are found in the aesthetic realm. Masiello views representation as both a political and artistic device, concerned with the tensions between truth and lies, experience and language, and intellectuals and the marginal subjects they study and claim to defend. These often contentious negotiations, she argues, are most provocatively displayed through the spectacle of difference, which constantly crosses the literary stage, the market, and the North/South divide. While forcefully defending the ability of literature and art to advance ethical positions and to foster a critical view of neoliberalism, Masiello especially shows how issues of gender and sexuality function as integrating threads throughout this cultural project. Through discussions of visual art as well as literary work by prominent novelists and poets, Masiello sketches a broad landscape of vivid intellectual debate in the Southern Cone of Latin America. The Art of Transition will interest Latin Americanists,literary and political theorists, art critics and historians, and those involved with the study of postmodernism and globalization.
Sixty years ago, at the height of World War II, an extraordinary series of gatherings took place at Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts. During the summers of 1942–1944, leading European?gures in the arts and sciences met at the college with their American counterparts for urgent conversations about the future of human civilization in a precarious world. Two Sorbonne professors, the distinguished medievalist Gustave Cohen and the existentialist philosopher Jean Wahl, organized these “Pontigny” sessions, named after an abbey in Burgundy where similar symposia had been held in the decades before the war. Among the participants—many of whom were Jewish or had Jewish backgrounds—were the philosophers Hannah Arendt and Rachel Bespaloff, the poets Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and the linguist Roman Jakobson, and the painters Marc Chagall and Robert Motherwell. In this collection of original essays, Stanley Cavell and Jacques Derrida lead an international group of scholars—including Jed Perl, Mary Ann Caws, Jeffrey Mehlman, and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl—in assessing the lasting impact and contemporary signi?cance of Pontigny-en- Amérique. Rachel Bespaloff, a tragic?gure who wrote a major work on the Iliad, is restored to her rightful place beside Arendt and Simone Weil. Anyone interested in the “intellectual resistance” of Francophone intellectuals and artists, and the inspiring support from such American?gures as Stevens and Moore, will want to read this pioneering work of scholarship and historical re-creation.
Popular genre fiction written by Asian American women and featuring Asian American characters gained a market presence in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. These “crossover” books—mother-daughter narratives, chick lit, detective fiction, and food writing—attempt to bridge ethnic audiences and a broader reading public. In Asian American Women's Popular Literature, Pamela Thoma considers how these books both depict contemporary American-ness and contribute critically to public dialogue about national belonging.
Novels such as Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan’s China Dolls and Sonia Singh’s Goddess for Hire, or mysteries including Sujata Massey’s Girl in a Box and Suki Kim’s The Interpreter, reveal Asian American women’s ambivalence about the trappings and prescriptions of mainstream American society. Thoma shows how these writers’ works address the various pressures on women to manage their roles in relation to family and finances—reconciling the demands of work, consumer culture, and motherhood—in a neoliberal society.
One of the central tasks of Asian American literature, argues Patricia P. Chu, has been to construct Asian American identities in the face of existing, and often contradictory, ideas about what it means to be an American. Chu examines the model of the Anglo-American bildungsroman and shows how Asian American writers have adapted it to express their troubled and unstable position in the United States. By aligning themselves with U.S. democratic ideals while also questioning the historical realities of exclusion, internment, and discrimination, Asian American authors, contends Chu, do two kinds of ideological work: they claim Americanness for Asian Americans, and they create accounts of Asian ethnicity that deploy their specific cultures and histories to challenge established notions of Americanness. Chu further demonstrates that Asian American male and female writers engage different strategies in the struggle to adapt, reflecting their particular, gender-based relationships to immigration, work, and cultural representation. While offering fresh perspectives on the well-known writings—both fiction and memoir—of Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee, Frank Chin, and David Mura, Assimilating Asians also provides new insight into the work of less recognized but nevertheless important writers like Carlos Bulosan, Edith Eaton, Younghill Kang, Milton Murayama, and John Okada. As she explores this expansive range of texts—published over the course of the last century by authors of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Indian origin or descent—Chu is able to illuminate her argument by linking it to key historical and cultural events. Assimilating Asians makes an important contribution to the fields of Asian American, American, and women’s studies. Scholars of Asian American literature and culture, as well as of ethnicity and assimilation, will find particular interest and value in this book.
Although he never lived in Harlem, Chester Himes commented that he experienced “a sort of pure homesickness” while creating the Harlem-set detective novels from his self-imposed exile in Paris. Through writing, Himes constructed an imaginary home informed both by nostalgia for a community he never knew and a critique of the racism he left behind in the United States. Half a century later, Michelle Cliff wrote about her native Jamaica from the United States, articulating a positive Caribbean feminism that at the same time acknowledged Jamaica’s homophobia and color prejudice.
In At Home in Diaspora, Wendy Walters investigates the work of Himes, Cliff, and three other twentieth-century black international writers—Caryl Phillips, Simon Njami, and Richard Wright—who have lived in and written from countries they do not call home. Unlike other authors in exile, those of the African diaspora are doubly displaced, first by the discrimination they faced at home and again by their life abroad. Throughout, Walters suggests that in the absence of a recoverable land of origin, the idea of diaspora comes to represent a home that is not singular or exclusionary. In this way, writing in exile is much more than a literary performance; it is a profound political act.
Wendy W. Walters is assistant professor of literature at Emerson College.
In At Penpoint Monica Popescu traces the development of African literature during the second half of the twentieth century to address the intertwined effects of the Cold War and decolonization on literary history. Popescu draws on archival materials from the Soviet-sponsored Afro-Asian Writers Association and the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom alongside considerations of canonical literary works by Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Ousmane Sembène, Pepetela, Nadine Gordimer, and others. She outlines how the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union played out in the aesthetic and political debates among African writers and intellectuals. These writers decolonized aesthetic canons even as superpowers attempted to shape African cultural production in ways that would advance their ideological and geopolitical goals. Placing African literature at the crossroads of postcolonial theory and studies of the Cold War, Popescu provides a new reassessment of African literature, aesthetics, and knowledge production.
In this ambitious study of the intense and often adversarial relationship between English and American literature in the nineteenth century, Robert Weisbuch portrays the rise of American literary nationalism as a self-conscious effort to resist and, finally, to transcend the contemporary British influence.
Describing the transatlantic "double-cross" of literary influence, Weisbuch documents both the American desire to create a literature distinctly different from English models and the English insistence that any such attempt could only fail. The American response, as he demonstrates, was to make strengths out of national disadvantages by rethinking history, time, and traditional concepts of the self, and by reinterpreting and ridiculing major British texts in mocking allusions and scornful parodies.
Weisbuch approaches a precise characterization of this "double-cross" by focusing on paired sets of English and American texts. Investigations of the causes, motives, and literary results of the struggle alternate with detailed analyses of several test cases. Weisbuch considers Melville's challenge to Dickens, Thoreau's response to Coleridge and Wordsworth, Hawthorne's adaptation of Keats and influence on Eliot, Whitman's competition with Arnold, and Poe's reshaping of Shelley. Adding a new dimension to the exploration of an emerging aesthetic consciousness, Atlantic Double-Cross provides important insights into the creation of the American literary canon.
What constitutes “blackness” in American culture? And who gets to define whether or not someone is truly African American? Is a struggling hip-hop artist more “authentic” than a conservative Supreme Court justice? In Authentic Blackness J. Martin Favor looks to the New Negro Movement—also known as the Harlem Renaissance—to explore early challenges to the idea that race is a static category. Authentic Blackness looks at the place of the “folk”—those African Americans “furthest down,” in the words of Alain Locke—and how the representation of the folk and the black middle class both spurred the New Negro Movement and became one of its most serious points of contention. Drawing on vernacular theories of African American literature from such figures as Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Houston Baker as well as theorists Judith Butler and Stuart Hall, Favor looks closely at the work of four Harlem Renaissance fiction writers: James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen, George Schuyler, and Jean Toomer. Arguing that each of these writers had, at best, an ambiguous relationship to African American folk culture, Favor demonstrates how they each sought to redress the notion of a fixed black identity. Authentic Blackness illustrates how “race” has functioned as a type of performative discourse, a subjectivity that simultaneously builds and conceals its connections with such factors as class, gender, sexuality, and geography.
Classical scholarship tends to treat anonymous authorship as a problem or game—a defect to be repaired or mystery to be solved. But anonymity can be a source of meaning unto itself, rather than a gap that needs filling. Tom Geue’s close readings of Latin texts show what the suppression or loss of a name can do for literature.
Unn Falkeid considers the work of six fourteenth-century writers who waged literary war against the Avignon papacy’s increasing claims of supremacy over secular rulers—a conflict that engaged contemporary critics from every corner of Europe. She illuminates arguments put forth by Dante, Petrarch, William of Ockham, Catherine of Siena, and others.
One of the world's preeminent scholars of Russian History, Geoffrey Hosking illuminates the social, cultural, and historical developments that created the need--and openness--for the political and economic changes that occurred in the late 1980's.
Reviews of this book: "The Awakening of the Soviet Union does more to help English speakers understand these changes than any of the dozens of books on the subject published in the past five years."
--Anthony Astrachan, The Nation
"The most useful and reliable guide to the chaos of the current Soviet Union...[Hosking's] grasp of the overall picture of the Soviet Union and of its history is solid and uncluttered."
"Among the most enlightening and informative accounts of what has already been one of the most amazing peaceful revolutions in modern times...[A] fine study."
--Adam B. Ulam, New York Times Book Review
"Geoffrey Hosking has...produced a series of almost timeless essays on the deeper currents of change and reform within the Soviet system."
Mexico is more than a country; it is a concept that is the product of a complex network of discourses as disparate as the rhetoric of Chicano nationalism, English-language literature about Mexico, and Mexican tourist propaganda. The idea of "Mexicanness," says Daniel Cooper Alarcón, "has arisen through a process of erasure and superimposition as these discourses have produced contentious and sometimes contradictory descriptions of their subject." By considering Mexicanness as a palimpsest of these competing yet interwoven narratives, Cooper offers a paradigm through which the construction and representation of cultural identity can be studied.
He shows how the Chicano myth of Aztlan was constructed upon earlier Mesoamerican myths, discusses representations of Mexico in texts by nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers, and analyzes the content of tourist literature, thereby revealing the economic, social, and political interests that drive the production of Mexicanness today. This original linking of seemingly incongruous discourses corrects the misconception that Mexicanness is produced only by hegemonic groups. Cooper shows how Mexico has been defined and represented, by both Mexicans and non-Mexicans, as more than a political or geographic entity, and he particularly reveals how Mexicanness has been exploited by Mexicans themselves through the promotion of tourism as a form of neocolonialism.
Cooper's work is valuable both for identifying attempts to revise and control Mexican myth, history, and culture and for defining the intricate relationship between history, historiography, and cultural nationalism. The Aztec Palimpsest extends existing analyses of Mexicanness into new theoretical realms and provides a fresh perspective on the relationship between the United States and Mexico at a time when these two nations are becoming more intimately linked.