All My Relatives challenges the prevailing notion that the work of all American writers reflects a sense of determined individualism. Highlighting works by Frank Chin, Sandra Cisneros, Maxine Hong Kingston, N. Scott Momaday, Tomas Rivera, Leslie Marmon Silko, Alice Walker, and John Edgar Wideman, Bonnie TuSmith shows that a "first language of community" exists within the cultures of ethnic Americans and is evident in their literary texts. TuSmith suggests that the proper understanding of these texts demands that we dismiss an interpretive frame borrowed from European-American literature.
All My Relatives provides a new way of reading popular works such as The Woman Warrior, The Joy Luck Club, The Color Purple and John Edgar Wideman's Sent for You Yesterday. TuSmith's study will appeal to general readers as well as students and scholars of American culture, ethnic studies, and American literature.
"An original contribution to the field. TuSmith's willingness to step over invisible boundaries and to draw parallels between the cultural contexts of several ethnic groups at once is refreshing and important." --Amy Ling, University of Wisconsin, Madison
"Ambitious and timely . . . a significant work that Americanists will want to read. TuSmith does an excellent job of clarifying the meaning and significance of the term "ethnicity" in relation to American literature."--Ramón Saldívar, Stanford University
". . . TuSmith establishes the importance of traditional (usually oral) modes of expression to ethnic texts that are both relational and accessible . . . . [S]hould become a standard point of reference in the emerging field of comparative American literature."--Choice
Bonnie TuSmith is Assistant Professor of English, Bowling Green State University.
The Pacific, long a source of fantasies for EuroAmerican consumption and a testing ground for the development of EuroAmerican production, is often misrepresented by the West as one-dimensional, culturally monolithic. Although the Asia/Pacific region occupies a prominent place in geopolitical thinking, little is available to readers outside the region concerning the resistant communities and cultures of Pacific and Asian peoples. Asia/Pacific as Space of Cultural Production fills that gap by documenting the efforts of diverse indigenous cultures to claim and reimagine Asia/Pacific as a space for their own cultural production. From New Zealand to Japan, Taiwan to Hawaii, this innovative volume presents essays, poems, and memoirs by prominent Asia/Pacific writers that resist appropriation by transnational capitalism through the articulation of autonomous local identities and counter-histories of place and community. In addition, cultural critics spanning several locations and disciplines deconstruct representations—particularly those on film and in novels—that perpetuate Asia/Pacific as a realm of EuroAmerican fantasy. This collection, a much expanded edition of boundary 2, offers a new perception of the Asia/Pacific region by presenting the Pacific not as a paradise or vast emptiness, but as a place where living, struggling peoples have constructed contemporary identities out of a long history of hegemony and resistance. Asia/Pacific as Space of Cultural Production will prove stimulating to readers with an interest in the Asia/Pacific region, and to scholars in the fields of Asian, American, Pacific, postcolonial, and cultural studies.
Contributors. Joseph P. Balaz, Chris Bongie, William A. Callahan, Thomas Carmichael, Leo Ching, Chiu Yen Liang (Fred), Chungmoo Choi, Christopher L. Connery, Arif Dirlik, John Fielder, Miriam Fuchs, Epeli Hau`ofa, Lawson Fusao Inada, M. Consuelo León W., Katharyne Mitchell, Masao Miyoshi, Steve Olive, Theophil Saret Reuney, Peter Schwenger, Subramani, Terese Svoboda, Jeffrey Tobin, Haunani-Kay Trask, John Whittier Treat, Tsushima Yuko, Albert Wendt, Rob Wilson
This dynamic, open-minded collection of essays responds to the issues raised by Werner Sollors when he argues against the rigidity of cultural pluralism, against the ethnic group-by-group segregation of American literature. Instead he calls for an openly transethinic recognition of cross-cultural interplays and connections among all so-called groups and their canons. In enthusiastic response to such issues, the contributors explore a variety of approaches to pluralism, multiculturalism, group identity, and the problematics of authenticity in literary texts and criticism both historically and currently.
The scholars in this civil, persuasive volume are at home in an international world that crosses linguistic, cultural, and national boundaries. They thus transcend the customary restrictions of earlier, relatively isolationist scholarship to form new, nonpolemical links among cultural identities. This relationship between oral modes of communal identity and writing in tribal cultures joins an examination of Houston Baker's discursive strategies. A consideration of ethnic humor in the writings of Zora Neale Hurston and Jerre Mangione and a discussion of Jean Toomer's racial persona offer striking contextualizations. Two contributors study discursive constructions of mestizaje in Chicano/a texts, followed by essays on cultural difference in Faulkner's Light in August and Roth's Call It Sleep.Finally, Werner Sollers's essay extends the interactions among all these energetic, nonjudgmental dialogues.
Joining the current debates in American literary history, José David Saldívar offers a challenging new perspective on what constitutes not only the canon in American literature, but also the notion of America itself. His aim is the articulation of a fresh, transgeographical conception of American culture, one more responsive to the geographical ties and political crosscurrents of the hemisphere than to narrow national ideologies. Saldívar pursues this goal through an array of oppositional critical and creative practices. He analyzes a range of North American writers of color (Rolando Hinojosa, Gloria Anzaldúa, Arturo Islas, Ntozake Shange, and others) and Latin American authors (José Martí, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Gabriel García Márquez, and others), whose work forms a radical critique of the dominant culture, its politics, and its restrictive modes of expression. By doing so, Saldívar opens the traditional American canon to a dialog with other voices, not just the voices of national minorities, but those of regional cultures different from the prevalent anglocentric model. The Dialectics of Our America, in its project to expand the “canon” and define a pan-American literary tradition, will make a critical difference in ongoing attempts to reconceptualize American literary history.
Where there are dictators, there are novels about dictators. But “dictator novels” do not simply respond to the reality of dictatorship. As this genre has developed and cohered, it has acquired a self-generating force distinct from its historical referents. The dictator novel has become a space in which writers consider the difficulties of national consolidation, explore the role of external and global forces in sustaining dictatorship, and even interrogate the political functions of writing itself. Literary representations of the dictator, therefore, provide ground for a self-conscious and self-critical theorization of the relationship between writing and politics itself.
The Dictator Novel positions novels about dictators as a vital genre in the literatures of the Global South. Primarily identified with Latin America, the dictator novel also has underacknowledged importance in the postcolonial literatures of francophone and anglophone Africa. Although scholars have noted similarities, this book is the first extensive comparative analysis of these traditions; it includes discussions of authors including Gabriel García Márquez, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Alejo Carpentier, Augusto Roa Bastos, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, José Mármol, Esteban Echeverría, Ousmane Sembène , Chinua Achebe, Aminata Sow Fall, Henri Lopès, Sony Labou Tansi, and Ahmadou Kourouma. This juxtaposition illuminates the internal dynamics of the dictator novel as a literary genre. In so doing, Armillas-Tiseyra puts forward a comparative model relevant to scholars working across the Global South.
This volume takes an important step toward the discovery of a common critical heritage that joins the diverse literatures of North America and Latin America. Traditionally, literary criticism has treated the literature of the Americas as “New World” literature, examining it in relation to its “Old World”—usually European—counterparts. This collection of essays redirects the Eurocentric focus of earlier scholarship and identifies a distinctive pan-American consciousness. The essays here place the literature of the Americas in a hemispheric context by drawing on approaches derived from various schools of contemporary critical thought—Marxism, feminism, culture studies, semiotics, reception aesthetics, and poststructuralism. As part of their search for a distinctly New World literary idiom, the contributors engage not only the major North American and Spanish American writers, but also such “marginal” or “minor” literatures as Chicano, African American, Brazilian, and Québecois. In identifying areas of agreement and confluence, this work lays the groundwork for finding historical, ideological, and cultural homogeneity in the imaginative writing of the Americas.
Contributors. Lois Parkinson Zamora, David T. Haberly, José David Saldívar, Antonio Benítez-Rojo, José Piedra, Doris Sommer, Enrico Mario Santí, Eduardo González, John Irwin, Wendy B. Faris, René Prieto, Jonathan Monroe, Gustavo Pérez Firmat
In Search of First Contact is a monumental achievement by the influential literary critic Annette Kolodny. In this book, she offers a radically new interpretation of two medieval Icelandic tales, known as the Vinland sagas. She contends that they are the first known European narratives about contact with North America. After carefully explaining the evidence for that conclusion, Kolodny examines what happened after 1837, when English translations of the two sagas became widely available and enormously popular in the United States. She assesses their impact on literature, immigration policy, and concepts of masculinity.
Kolodny considers what the sagas reveal about the Native peoples encountered by the Norse in Vinland around the year A.D. 1000, and she recovers Native American stories of first contacts with Europeans, including one that has never before been shared outside of Native communities. These stories contradict the dominant narrative of "first contact" between Europeans and the New World. Kolodny rethinks the lingering power of a mythic American Viking heritage and the long-standing debate over whether Leif Eiriksson or Christopher Columbus should be credited as the first discoverer. With this paradigm-shattering work, Kolodny shows what literary criticism can bring to historical and social scientific endeavors.
The postcolonial spread of democratic ideals such as freedom and equality has taken place all over the world despite the widespread cultural differences that would seem to inhibit such change. In her new book, Literatures of Liberation: Non-European Universalisms and Democratic Progress, Mukti Lakhi Mangharam questions how these “universalisms” came to be and suggests that these elements were not solely the result of Europe-based Enlightenment ideals. Instead, they also arose in context-specific forms throughout the world (particularly in the Global South), relatively independently from Enlightenment concepts. These translatable yet distinct cognitive frameworks, or “contextual universalisms,” as she argues, were central to the spread of modern democratic principles in response to the relentless expansion of capital.
In this way, she posits that these universalisms reconceptualize democratic ideals not as Western imports into precolonial societies but as regional phenomena tied to local relations of power and resistance. In charting these alternative democratic trajectories, Mangharam examines oft-overlooked regional and vernacular literary forms and provides a fresh approach to current theorizations of postcolonial and world literatures.
The Object of the Atlantic is a wide-ranging study of the transition from a concern with sovereignty to a concern with things in Iberian Atlantic literature and art produced between 1868 and 1968. Rachel Price uncovers the surprising ways that concrete aesthetics from Cuba, Brazil, and Spain drew not only on global forms of constructivism but also on a history of empire, slavery, and media technologies from the Atlantic world. Analyzing Jose Marti’s notebooks, Joaquim de Sousandrade’s poetry, Ramiro de Maeztu’s essays on things and on slavery, 1920s Cuban literature on economic restructuring, Ferreira Gullar’s theory of the “non-object,” and neoconcrete art, Price shows that the turn to objects—and from these to new media networks—was rooted in the very philosophies of history that helped form the Atlantic world itself.
The encounter between European and native peoples in the Americas is often portrayed as a conflict between literate civilization and illiterate savagery. That perception ignores the many indigenous forms of writing that were not alphabet-based, such as Mayan pictoglyphs, Iroquois wampum, Ojibwe birch-bark scrolls, and Incan quipus. Queequeg's Coffin offers a new definition of writing that comprehends the dazzling diversity of literature in the Americas before and after European arrivals. This groundbreaking study recovers previously overlooked moments of textual reciprocity in the colonial sphere, from a 1645 French-Haudenosaunee Peace Council to Herman Melville's youthful encounters with Polynesian hieroglyphics.
By recovering the literatures and textual practices that were indigenous to the Americas, Birgit Brander Rasmussen reimagines the colonial conflict as one organized by alternative but equally rich forms of literacy. From central Mexico to the northeastern shores of North America, in the Andes and across the American continents, indigenous peoples and European newcomers engaged each other in dialogues about ways of writing and recording knowledge. In Queequeg's Coffin, such exchanges become the foundation for a new kind of early American literary studies.
With the recent proliferation of critically acclaimed literature by Asian American writers, this groundbreaking collection of essays provides a unique resource for students, scholars, and the general reading public. The homogeneity implied by the term "Asian American" is replaced in this volume with the rich diversity of highly disparate peoples. Languages, religions, races and cultural and national backgrounds. Examining a century of Asian American literature from the late 19th century up through the contemporary experimental drama of Ping Chong, the contributors address the work of writers with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, East Indian, and Pacific Island ancestry. Asian Canadian and Hawaiian literature are also considered.
The concept of "American" literature is not the exclusive province of any one nation. Thanks to the historical circumstances that governed the European conquest and settlement of the Americas, we can and should approach the writings of English and French Canada, the United States, Spanish America, and Brazil as a cohesive group of American literature, worthy of study without constant reference to European texts. Now, Rediscovering the New World makes a timely addition to this expanding field on Inter-American scholarship that should help lead tothe formation of a new canon.
This adventurous and ambitious work begins with an examination of Pre-Columbian literature (and shows that his powerful tradition remains alive and well in the twentieth century), then confronts the narratives of discovery and conquest, the New World epic, identity as the Ur-theme of American literature, miscegenation as another integral theme, and regionalism as a shaping force. Other striking these and juxtapositions include a comparison of Henry James and Machado de Assis as the first two great New World novelists, modernism as both a distinct literary movement and an amorphous body of aesthetic principles, and the conflict between "civilization" and "barbarism."
More in the exploratory spirit of the French Canadian voyageur than in the spirit of the conquistador, Rediscovering the New World is the first scholarly work in English to integrate an international set of American literary cultures. It should inspire other explorers as the field of Inter-American literary relations continues to evolve.
From the rise of the Pan-Maya Movement in Guatemala and the Zapatista uprising in Mexico to the Water and Gas Wars in Bolivia and the Idle No More movement in Canada, the turn of the twenty-first century has witnessed a notable surge in Indigenous political action as well as an outpouring of texts produced by Native authors and poets. Throughout the Americas—Abiayala, or the “Land of Plenitude and Maturity” in the Guna language of Panama—Indigenous people are raising their voices and reclaiming the right to represent themselves in politics as well as in creative writing.
Revealing Rebellion in Abiayala explores the intersections between Indigenous literature and social movements over the past thirty years through the lens of insurgent poetics. Author Hannah Burdette is interested in how Indigenous literature and social movements are intertwined and why these phenomena arise almost simultaneously in disparate contexts across the Americas.
Literature constitutes a key weapon in political struggles as it provides a means to render subjugated knowledge visible and to envision alternatives to modernity and coloniality. The surge in Indigenous literature and social movements is arguably one of the most significant occurrences of the twenty-first century, and yet it remains understudied. Revealing Rebellion in Abiayala bridges that gap by using the concept of Abiayala as a powerful starting point for rethinking inter-American studies through the lens of Indigenous sovereignty.
John Muthyala's Reworlding America moves beyond the U.S.-centered approach of traditional American literary criticism. In this groundbreaking book, Muthyala argues for a transgeographical perspective from which to study the literary and cultural histories of the Americas.
By emphasizing transnational migration, border crossing, and colonial modernity, Reworlding America exposes how national, ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural boundaries have been continually created and transgressed—with profound consequences for the peoples of the Americas.
Drawing from cultural studies, anthropology, literature, and history, Muthyala examines the literatures of the Americas in terms of their intimate relationship to questions of cultural survival, identity formation, and social power. He goes beyond nationalist, ethnocentric, and religious frameworks used to conceptualize American literary history and examines the connection between modernity and colonialism.
Reworlding America's significance extends into the realm of education, history, ethnography, and literary and cultural studies and contributes to the larger project of refashioning the role of English and American studies in a transborder, postnational global culture.
During the nineteenth century, literate Russians and educated American blacks encountered a dominant Western narrative of world civilization that seemed to ignore the histories of Slavs and African Americans. In response, generations of Russian and black American intellectuals have asserted eloquent counterclaims for the cultural significance of a collective national “soul” veiled from prejudiced Western eyes. Up from Bondage is the first study to parallel the evolution of Russian and African American cultural nationalism in literary works and philosophical writings. Illuminating a remarkably widespread cross-pollination between the two cultural and intellectual traditions, Dale E. Peterson frames much of his argument around W. E. B. DuBois’s concept of “double-consciousness,” wherein members of an oppressed section of society view themselves simultaneously through their own self-awareness and through the internalized standards of the dominant culture. He shows how the writings of Dostoevsky, Hurston, Chesnutt, Turgenev, Ellison, Wright, Gorky, and Naylor—texts that enacted and described this sense of double awareness—were used both to perform and to contest the established genres of Western literacy. Woven through Peterson’s textual analyses is his consideration of cultural hybridism and its effects: The writers he examines find multiple ways to testify to and challenge the symptoms of postcolonial trauma. After discussing the strong and significant affinity expressed by contemporary African American cultural theorists for the dialogic thought of Russian linguist Mikhail Bakhtin, Peterson argues that a fuller appreciation of the historic connection between the two cultures will enrich the complicated meanings of being black or Russian in a world that has traditionally avoided acknowledging pluralistic standards of civilization and cultural excellence. This investigation of comparable moments in the development of Russian and African American ethnic self-consciousness will be valuable to students and scholars of comparative literature, philosophy, cultural theory, ethnicity, linguistics, and postcolonialism, in addition to Slavic and African American studies.