front cover of All My Relatives
All My Relatives
Community in Contemporary Ethnic American Literatures
Bonnie TuSmith
University of Michigan Press, 1994
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.

logo for Harvard University Press
American Babel
Literatures of the United States from Abnaki to Zuni
Marc Shell
Harvard University Press, 2002
If ever there was a polyglot place on the globe (other than the Tower of Babel), America between 1750 and 1850 was it. Here three continents—North America, Africa, and Europe—met and spoke not as one, but in Amerindian and African languages, in German and English, Spanish, French, and Dutch. How this prodigious multilingualism lost its voice in the making of the American canon and in everyday American linguistic practice is the problem American Babel approaches from a variety of angles. Looking at the first Arabic-language African-American slave narrative, at quirks of translation in Greek-American bilingual books, and at the strategies of Yiddish women poets and Welsh-American dramatists, contributors show how linguistic resistance opposes the imperative of linguistic assimilation. They address matters of literary authority in Irish Gaelic writing, Creole novels, and the multiple voices of the Zuni storyteller; and in essays on Haitian, Welsh, Spanish, and Chinese literatures, they trace the relationship between domestic nationalism and immigrant internationalism, between domestic citizenship and immigrant ethnicity.

The Ohio State University Press, 2004

front cover of Border Writing
Border Writing
The Multidimensional Text
D. Emily HicksForeword by Neil Larsen
University of Minnesota Press, 1991

Border Writing was first published in 1991. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Until recently, literary theory has been grounded in the histories of English, French, German, and Spanish literature. The terms and models for the production of literature and its function in culture and society were decided in Western Europe, and any deviations were immediately marginalized. This Eurocentric view has been widely attached by postmodern, feminist, and postcolonial political practices.

Drawing on a variety of critical and theoretical sources, D. Emily Hicks employs the concept of border writing to consider the complexities of contemporary Latin American writing. With its emphasis on the multiplicity of languages and the problems of translation, border writing connotes a perspective that is no longer determined by neat distinctions. Hicks combines Deleuze and Guattari's notion of "deterritorialization" (the geographic, linguistic, or cultural displacement from one's own country, language, or native culture) with a holographic metaphor in provocative readings of Latin America writers, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Luisa Valenzuela, and Julio Cortazar. The result is a volume that forces the reader to consider the development of literature in terms of strategies and tactics that contribute to the production of meaning in culturally complex and politically repressive societies.

D. Emily Hicks is associate professor of English and comparative literature and a member of the Latin American studies faculty at San Diego State University. Neil Larsen is associate professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Northeastern University and the author of Modernism and Hegemony: A Materialist Critique of Aesthetic Agencies (Minnesota, 1990).


logo for University of Iowa Press
Cultural Difference and the Literary Text
Pluralism and the Limits of Authenticity in North American Literature
Winfried Siemerling
University of Iowa Press, 1997

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.


logo for American Library Association
Diversity in Youth Literature
Opening Doors through Reading
Jamie Campbell Naidoo
American Library Association, 2013

front cover of Ethnic Passages
Ethnic Passages
Literary Immigrants in Twentieth-Century America
Thomas J. Ferraro
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Ethnic literature figures prominently in the current debate on multiculturalism, but even its supporters have had little to say about it as literature, stressing instead its political and sociological context. Thomas J. Ferraro, in this lively and accessible study of modern fiction by Americans of immigrant background, argues that the best of these stories demand—and reward—close reading and attention to questions of genre and literary form.

Ferraro engages the literature of immigration and mobility by asking what motivates its authors and what their work actually accomplishes. He concentrates on five diverse examples of the "up-from-the-ghetto" narrative: Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers, Henry Roth's Call It Sleep, Henry Miller's "The Tailor Shop," and Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. To Ferraro the unsuspected value of these works is that they recast the conventions of ethnic representation, illustrating the power of ethnic writing to capture and redirect the national literary imagination.

Ferraro's sharply observed reading of these five works shows how such reenactments of immigrant mobility test the ideology of assimilation against the writer's experience. Ethnic Passages will refocus discussion of how literature addresses the American conflict between ethnic heritage and the greater opportunities of "mainstream" society.

front cover of Experiments in Democracy
Experiments in Democracy
Interracial and Cross-Cultural Exchange in American Theatre, 1912-1945
Edited by Cheryl Black and Jonathan Shandell
Southern Illinois University Press, 2016
In the first half of the twentieth century, a number of American theatres and theatre artists fostered interracial collaboration and socialization on stage, behind the scenes, and among audiences. In an era marked by entrenched racial segregation and inequality, these artists used performance to bridge America’s persistent racial divide and to bring African American, Latino/Latina, Asian American, Native American, and Jewish American communities and traditions into the nation’s broader cultural conversation.
In Experiments in Democracy, edited by Cheryl Black and Jonathan Shandell, theatre historians examine a wide range of performances—from Broadway, folk plays and dance productions to scripted political rallies and radio dramas. Contributors look at such diverse groups as the Theatre Union, La Unión Martí-Maceo, and the American Negro Theatre, as well as individual playwrights and their works, including Theodore Browne’s folk opera Natural Man, Josefina Niggli’s Soldadera, and playwright Lynn Riggs’s Cherokee Night and Green Grow the Lilacs (the basis for the musical Oklahoma!). Exploring the ways progressive artists sought to connect isolated racial and cultural groups in pursuit of a more just and democratic society, contributors take into account the blind spots, compromised methods, and unacknowledged biases at play in their practices and strategies. Essays demonstrate how the gap between the ideal of American democracy and its practice—mired in entrenched systems of white privilege, economic inequality, and social prejudice—complicated the work of these artists.
Focusing on questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality on the stage in the decades preceding the Civil Rights era, Experiments in Democracy fills an important gap in our understanding of the history of the American stage—and sheds light on these still-relevant questions in contemporary American society. 

front cover of Growing Up in the Gutter
Growing Up in the Gutter
Diaspora and Comics
Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo; Foreword by Frederick Luis Aldama
University of Arizona Press, 2024
Growing Up in the Gutter offers new understandings of contemporary graphic coming-of-age narratives by looking at the genre’s growth in stories by and for young BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and diasporic readers. Through a careful examination of the genre, Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo analyzes the complex identity formation of first- and subsequent-generation migrant protagonists in globalized rural and urban environments and dissects the implications that these diasporic formative processes have for a growing and popular genre.

While the most traditional iteration of the bildungsroman—the coming-of-age story—follows middle-class male heroes who forge their identities in a process of complex introspection, contemporary graphic coming-of-age narratives represent formative processes that fit into, resist, or even disregard narratives of socialization under capitalism, of citizenship, and of nationhood.

Quintana-Vallejo delves into several important themes: how the coming-of-age genre can be used to study adulthood, how displacement and international or global heritage are fundamental experiences, how multidiasporic approaches foreground lived experiences, and how queerness opens narratives of development to the study of adulthood as fundamentally diverse and nonconforming to social norms. Quintana-Vallejo shows how openness enables belonging among chosen families and, perhaps most importantly, freedom to disidentify. And, finally, how contemporary authors writing for the instruction of BIPOC children (and children otherwise affected by diaspora and displacement) use the didactic power of the coming-of-age genre, combined with the hybrid language of graphic narratives, to teach difficult topics in accessible ways.

front cover of Infrastructures of Apocalypse
Infrastructures of Apocalypse
American Literature and the Nuclear Complex
Jessica Hurley
University of Minnesota Press, 2020

A new approach to the vast nuclear infrastructure and the apocalypses it produces, focusing on Black, queer, Indigenous, and Asian American literatures

Since 1945, America has spent more resources on nuclear technology than any other national project. Although it requires a massive infrastructure that touches society on myriad levels, nuclear technology has typically been discussed in a limited, top-down fashion that clusters around powerful men. In Infrastructures of Apocalypse, Jessica Hurley turns this conventional wisdom on its head, offering a new approach that focuses on neglected authors and Black, queer, Indigenous, and Asian American perspectives.

Exchanging the usual white, male “nuclear canon” for authors that include James Baldwin, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Ruth Ozeki, Infrastructures of Apocalypse delivers a fresh literary history of post-1945 America that focuses on apocalypse from below. Here Hurley critiques the racialized urban spaces of civil defense and reads nuclear waste as a colonial weapon. Uniting these diverse lines of inquiry is Hurley’s belief that apocalyptic thinking is not the opposite of engagement but rather a productive way of imagining radically new forms of engagement.

Infrastructures of Apocalypse offers futurelessness as a place from which we can construct a livable world. It fills a blind spot in scholarship on American literature of the nuclear age, while also offering provocative, surprising new readings of such well-known works as Atlas Shrugged, Infinite Jest, and Angels in America. Infrastructures of Apocalypse is a revelation for readers interested in nuclear issues, decolonial literature, speculative fiction, and American studies.


front cover of Mongrel Nation
Mongrel Nation
Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain
Ashley Dawson
University of Michigan Press, 2007

Mongrel Nation surveys the history of the United Kingdom’s African, Asian, and Caribbean populations from 1948 to the present, working at the juncture of cultural studies, literary criticism, and postcolonial theory. Ashley Dawson argues that during the past fifty years Asian and black intellectuals from Sam Selvon to Zadie Smith have continually challenged the United Kingdom’s exclusionary definitions of citizenship, using innovative forms of cultural expression to reconfigure definitions of belonging in the postcolonial age. By examining popular culture and exploring topics such as the nexus of race and gender, the growth of transnational politics, and the clash between first- and second-generation immigrants, Dawson broadens and enlivens the field of postcolonial studies.

Mongrel Nation gives readers a broad landscape from which to view the shifting currents of politics, literature, and culture in postcolonial Britain. At a time when the contradictions of expansionist braggadocio again dominate the world stage, Mongrel Nation usefully illuminates the legacy of imperialism and suggests that creative voices of resistance can never be silenced.Dawson

“Elegant, eloquent, and full of imaginative insight, Mongrel Nation is a refreshing, engaged, and informative addition to post-colonial and diasporic literary scholarship.”

—Hazel V. Carby, Yale University

“Eloquent and strong, insightful and historically precise, lively and engaging, Mongrel Nation is an expansive history of twentieth-century internationalist encounters that provides a broader landscape from which to understand currents, shifts, and historical junctures that shaped the international postcolonial imagination.”

—May Joseph, Pratt Institute

Ashley Dawson is Associate Professor of English at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island. He is coeditor of the forthcoming Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism.


logo for American Library Association
Multiethnic Books for the Middle-School Curriculum
Cherri Jones
American Library Association, 2013

front cover of National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives
National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives
Donald E. Pease
Duke University Press, 1994
National narratives create imaginary relations within imagined communities called national peoples. But in the American narrative, alongside the nexus of belonging established for the national community, the national narrative has represented other peoples (women, blacks, "foreigners", the homeless) from whom the property of nationness has been removed altogether and upon whose differences from them the national people depended for the construction of their norms. Dismantling this opposition has become the task of post-national (Post-Americanist) narratives, bent on changing the assumptions that found the "national identity."
This volume, originally published as a special issue of bounrary 2, focuses on the process of assembling and dismantling the American national narrative(s), sketching its inception and demolition. The contributors examine various cultural, political, and historical sources--colonial literature, mass movements, epidemics of disease, mass spectacle, transnational corporations, super-weapons, popular magazines, literary texts--out of which this narrative was constructed, and propose different understandings of nationality and identity following in its wake.

Contributors. Jonathan Arac, Lauren Berlant, Robert J. Corber, Elizabeth Freeman, Kathryn V. Lingberg, Jack Matthews, Alan Nadel, Patrick O'Donnell, Daniel O'Hara, Donald E. Pease, Ross Posnock, John Carlos Rowe, Rob Wilson


logo for University of Illinois Press
Other Sisterhoods
Edited by Sandra Kumamoto Stanley
University of Illinois Press, 1998
      Where are the women writers of color? Where are their theoretical voices?
        The fifteen contributors to Other Sisterhoods: Literary Theory and
        U.S. Women of Color examine the ways that women writers of color have
        contributed to the discourse of literary and cultural theory. They focus
        on the impact of key issues, such as social construction and identity
        politics, on the works of women writers of color, as well as on the ways
        these women deal with differences relating to gender, class, race/ethnicity,
        and sexuality. The book also explores the ways women writers of color
        have created their own ethnopoetics within the arena of literary and cultural
        theory, helping to redefine the nature of theory itself.
      "A sophisticated resource that will do much to carry us through
        to the next century. Great work!" -- Alvina E. Quintana, author of
        Home Girls: Chicana Literary Voices
      CONTRIBUTORS:Sandra Kumamoto Stanley, AnaLouise Keating, Dionne
        Espinoza, Kimberly N. Brown, Marilyn Edelstein, Tomo Hattori, Robin Riley
        Fast, King-Kok Cheung, Timothy Libretti, Renae Moore Bredin, Jennifer
        Browdy de Hernandez, Kimberly M. Blaeser, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Eun Kyung
        Min, Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes

logo for University of Illinois Press
Race in the Multiethnic Literature Classroom
Edited by Cristina Stanciu and Gary Totten
University of Illinois Press, 2024

The contemporary rethinking and relearning of history and racism has sparked creative approaches for teaching the histories and representations of marginalized communities. Cristina Stanciu and Gary Totten edit a collection that illuminates these ideas for a variety of fields, areas of education, and institutional contexts.

The authors draw on their own racial and ethnic backgrounds to examine race and racism in the context of addressing necessary and often difficult classroom conversations about race, histories of exclusion, and racism. Case studies, reflections, and personal experiences provide guidance for addressing race and racism in the classroom. In-depth analysis looks at attacks on teaching Critical Race Theory and other practices for studying marginalized histories and voices. Throughout, the contributors shine a light on how a critical framework focused on race advances an understanding of contemporary and historical US multiethnic literatures for students around the world and in all fields of study.

Contributors: Kristen Brown, Nancy Carranza, Luis Cortes, Marilyn Edelstein, Naomi Edwards, Joanne Lipson Freed, Yadira Gamez, Lauren J. Gantz, Jennifer Ho, Shermaine M. Jones, Norell Martinez, Sarah Minslow, Crystal R. Pérez, Kevin Pyon, Emily Ruth Rutter, Ariel Santos, and C. Anneke Snyder


front cover of Rewriting White
Rewriting White
Race, Class, and Cultural Capital in Nineteenth-Century America
Todd Vogel
Rutgers University Press, 2004

What did it mean for people of color in nineteenth-century America to speak or write "white"? More specifically, how many and what kinds of meaning could such "white" writing carry? In ReWriting White, Todd Vogel looks at how America has racialized language and aesthetic achievement. To make his point, he showcases the surprisingly complex interactions between four nineteenth-century writers of color and the "standard white English" they adapted for their own moral, political, and social ends. The African American, Native American, and Chinese American writers Vogel discusses delivered their messages in a manner that simultaneously demonstrated their command of the dominant discourse of their times-using styles and addressing forums considered above their station-and fashioned a subversive meaning in the very act of that demonstration.

The close readings and meticulous archival research in ReWriting White upend our conventional expectations, enrich our understanding of the dynamics of hegemony and cultural struggle, and contribute to the efforts of other cutting-edge contemporary scholars to chip away at the walls of racial segregation that have for too long defined and defaced the landscape of American literary and cultural studies.


logo for Temple University Press
Searching for Safe Spaces
Afro-Caribbean Women Writers in Exile
Myriam Chancy
Temple University Press, 1997
Home. Exile. Return. Words heavy with meaning and passion. For Myriam Chancy, these three themes animate the lives and writings of dispossessed Afro-Caribbean women.

Understanding exile as flight from political persecution or types of oppression that single out women, Chancy concentrates on diasporic writers and filmmakers who depict the vulnerability of women to poverty and exploitation in their homelands and their search for safe refuge. These Afro-Caribbean feminists probe the complex issues of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, and class that limit women's lives. They portray the harsh conditions that all too commonly drive women into exile, depriving them of security and a sense of belonging in their adopted countries -- the United States, Canada, or England.

As they rework traditional literary forms, artists such as Joan Riley, Beryl Gilroy, M. Noubese Philip, Dionne Brand, Makeda Silvera, Audre Lorde, Rosa Guy, Michelle Cliff, and Mari Chauvet give voice to Åfro-Caribbean women's alienation and longing to return home. Whether their return is realized geographically or metaphorically, the poems, fiction, and film considered in this book speak boldly of self-definition and transformation.

front cover of Shakin' Up Race and Gender
Shakin' Up Race and Gender
Intercultural Connections in Puerto Rican, African American, and Chicano Narratives and Culture (1965–1995)
By Marta E. Sánchez
University of Texas Press, 2006

The second phase of the civil rights movement (1965-1973) was a pivotal period in the development of ethnic groups in the United States. In the years since then, new generations have asked new questions to cast light on this watershed era. No longer is it productive to consider only the differences between ethnic groups; we must also study them in relation to one another and to U.S. mainstream society.

In "Shakin' Up" Race and Gender, Marta E. Sánchez creates an intercultural frame to study the historical and cultural connections among Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and Chicanos/as since the 1960s. Her frame opens up the black/white binary that dominated the 1960s and 1970s. It reveals the hidden yet real ties that connected ethnics of color and "white" ethnics in a shared intercultural history. By using key literary works published during this time, Sánchez reassesses and refutes the unflattering portrayals of ethnics by three leading intellectuals (Octavio Paz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Oscar Lewis) who wrote about Chicanos, African Americans, and Puerto Ricans. She links their implicit misogyny to the trope of La Malinche from Chicano culture and shows how specific characteristics of this trope—enslavement, alleged betrayal, and cultural negotiation—are also present in African American and Puerto Rican cultures. Sánchez employs the trope to restore the agency denied to these groups. Intercultural contact—encounters between peoples of distinct ethnic groups—is the theme of this book.


front cover of Transcending the New Woman
Transcending the New Woman
Multiethnic Narratives in the Progressive Era
Charlotte J. Rich
University of Missouri Press, 2009
The dawn of the twentieth century saw the birth of the New Woman, a cultural and literary ideal that replaced Victorian expectations of domesticity with visions of social, political, and economic autonomy. Although such writers as Edith Wharton and Kate Chopin treated these ideals in well-known literature of that era, marginalized women also explored changing gender roles in works that deserve more attention today.
            This book is the first study to focus solely on multiethnic women writers’ responses to the ideal of the New Woman in America, opening up a world of literary texts that provide new insight into the phenomenon. Charlotte Rich reveals how these authors uniquely articulated the contradictions of the American New Woman, and how social class, race, or ethnicity impacted women’s experiences of both public and private life in the Progressive era.
            Rich focuses on the work of writers representing five distinct ethnicities: Native Americans S. Alice Callahan and Mourning Dove, African American Pauline Hopkins, Chinese American Sui Sin Far, Mexican American María Cristina Mena, and Jewish American Anzia Yezierska. She shows that some oftheir works contain both affirmative and critical portraits of white New Women; in other cases, while these authorsalign their multiethnic heroines with the new ideals, those ideals are sometimes subordinated to more urgent dialogues about inequality and racial violence.
            Here are views of women not usually encountered in fiction of this era. Callahan’s and Mourning Dove’s novels allude to women’s rights but ultimately privilege critiques of violence against Native Americans. Hopkins’s novels trace an increasingly pessimistic trajectory, drawing cynical conclusions about black women’s ability to thrive in a prejudiced society. Mena’s magazine portraits of Mexican life present complex critiques of this independent ideal of womanhood. Yezierska’s stories question the philanthropy of socially privileged Progressive female reformers with whom immigrant women interact. These writers’ works sometimes affirm emerging ideals but in other cases illuminate the iconic New Woman’s blindness to her own racial and economic privilege.
            Through her insightful analysis, Rich presents alternative versions of female autonomy, with characters living outside the mainstream or moving between cultures. Transcending the New Woman offers multiple ways of transcending an ideal that was problematic in its exclusivity, as well as an entrée to forgotten works. It shows how the concept of the New Woman can be seen in newly complex ways when viewed through the writings of authors whose lives often embody the New Woman’s emancipatory goals—and whose fictions both affirm and complicateher aspirations.


front cover of The Uses of Variety
The Uses of Variety
Modern Americanism and the Quest for National Distinctiveness
Carrie Tirado Bramen
Harvard University Press, 2000

The turn of the last century, amid the excesses of the Gilded Age, variety became a key notion for Americans—a sign of national progress and development, reassurance that the modern nation would not fall into monotonous dullness or disorderly chaos. Carrie Tirado Bramen pursues this idea through the works of a wide range of regional and cosmopolitan writers, journalists, theologians, and politicians who rewrote the narrative of American exceptionalism through a celebration of variety. Exploring cultural and institutional spheres ranging from intra-urban walking tours in popular magazines to the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago, she shows how the rhetoric of variety became naturalized and nationalized as quintessentially American and inherently democratic. By focusing on the uses of the term in the work of William James, Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, Hamlin Garland, and Wong Chin Foo, among many others, Bramen reveals how the perceived innocence and goodness of variety were used to construct contradictory and mutually exclusive visions of modern Americanism.

Bramen's innovation is to look at the debates of a century ago that established diversity as the distinctive feature of U.S. culture. In the late-nineteenth-century conception, which emphasized the openness of variety while at the same time acknowledging its limits, she finds a useful corrective to the contemporary tendency to celebrate the United States as a postmodern melange or a carnivalesque utopia of hybridity and difference.


front cover of Weird English
Weird English
Evelyn Nien-Ming Ch'ien
Harvard University Press, 2005

With increasing frequency, readers of literature are encountering barely intelligible, sometimes unrecognizable languages created by combining one or more languages with English. Evelyn Ch'ien argues that weird English constitutes the new language of literature, implicitly launching a new literary theory.

Weird English explores experimental and unorthodox uses of English by multilingual writers traveling from the canonical works of Nabokov and Hong Kingston to the less critiqued linguistic terrain of Junot Díaz and Arundhati Roy. It examines the syntactic and grammatical innovations of these authors, who use English to convey their ambivalence toward or enthusiasm for English or their political motivations for altering its rules. Ch'ien looks at how the collision of other languages with English invigorated and propelled the evolution of language in the twentieth century and beyond.

Ch'ien defines the allure and tactical features of a new writerly genre, even as she herself writes with a sassiness and verve that communicates her ideas with great panache.


front cover of World Next Door
World Next Door
South Asian American Literature
Rajini Srikanth
Temple University Press, 2004
This book grows out of the question, "At this particular moment of tense geopolitics and inter-linked economies, what insights can South Asian American writing offer us about living in the world?"

South Asian American literature, with its focus on the multiple geographies and histories of the global dispersal of South Asians, pulls back from a close-up view of the United States to reveal a wider landscape of many nations and peoples.

South Asian American poets, novelists, and playwrights depict the nation as simultaneously discrete and entwined with the urgencies of places as diverse as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Pakistan, and Trinidad. Drawing on the cosmopolitan sensibility of scholars like Anthony Appiah, Vinay Dharwadker, Martha Nussbaum, Bruce Robbins, and Amartya Sen, this book exhorts North American residents to envision connectedness with inhabitants of other lands. The world out there arrives next door.

Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter