The public debate on abortion stretches back much further than Roe v. Wade, to long before the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” were ever invented. Yet the ways Americans discussed abortion in the early decades of the twentieth century had little in common with our now-entrenched debates about personal responsibility and individual autonomy.
Abortion in the American Imagination returns to the moment when American writers first dared to broach the controversial subject of abortion. What was once a topic avoided by polite society, only discussed in vague euphemisms behind closed doors, suddenly became open to vigorous public debate as it was represented everywhere from sensationalistic melodramas to treatises on social reform. Literary scholar and cultural historian Karen Weingarten shows how these discussions were remarkably fluid and far-ranging, touching upon issues of eugenics, economics, race, and gender roles.
Weingarten traces the discourses on abortion across a wide array of media, putting fiction by canonical writers like William Faulkner, Edith Wharton, and Langston Hughes into conversation with the era’s films, newspaper articles, and activist rhetoric. By doing so, she exposes not only the ways that public perceptions of abortion changed over the course of the twentieth century, but also the ways in which these abortion debates shaped our very sense of what it means to be an American.
Above the American Renaissance takes David S. Reynolds's classic study Beneath the American Renaissance as a model and a provocation to consider how language and concepts broadly defined as spiritual are essential to understanding nineteenth-century American literary culture. In the 1980s, Reynolds's scholarship and methodology enlivened investigations of religious culture, and since then, for reasons that include a rising respect for interdisciplinarity and the aftershocks of the 9/11 attacks, religion in literature has become a major area of inquiry for Americanists. In essays that reconsider and contextualize Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, Abraham Lincoln, and others, this volume captures the vibrancy of spiritual considerations in American literary studies and points a way forward within literary and spiritual investigations.
In addition to the editors and David S. Reynolds, contributors include Jeffrey Bilbro, Dawn Coleman, Jonathan A. Cook, Tracy Fessenden, Zachary Hutchins, Richard Kopley, Mason I. Lowance Jr., John Matteson, Christopher N. Phillips, Vivian Pollak, Michael Robertson, Gail K. Smith, Claudia Stokes, and Timothy Sweet.
In Above Time, James R. Guthrie explores the origins of the two preeminent transcendentalists' revolutionary approaches to time, as well as to the related concepts of history, memory, and change. Most critical discussions of this period neglect the important truth that the entire American transcendentalist project involved a transcendence of temporality as well as of materiality. Correspondingly, both writers call in their major works for temporal reform, to be achieved primarily by rejecting the past and future in order to live in an amplified present moment.
Emerson and Thoreau were compelled to see time in a new light by concurrent developments in the sciences and the professions. Geologists were just then hotly debating the age of the earth, while zoologists were beginning to unravel the mysteries of speciation, and archaeologists were deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs. These discoveries worked collectively to enlarge the scope of time, thereby helping pave the way for the appearance of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859.
Well aware of these wider cultural developments, Emerson and Thoreau both tried (although with varying degrees of success) to integrate contemporary scientific thought with their preexisting late-romantic idealism. As transcendentalists, they already believed in the existence of "correspondences"—affinities between man and nature, formalized as symbols. These symbols could then be decoded to discover the animating presence in the world of eternal laws as pervasive as the laws of science. Yet unlike scientists, Emerson and Thoreau hoped to go beyond merely understanding nature to achieving a kind of passionate identity with it, and they believed that such a union might be achieved only if time was first recognized as being a purely human construct with little or no validity in the rest of the natural world. Consequently, both authors employ a series of philosophical, rhetorical, and psychological strategies designed to jolt their readers out of time, often by attacking received cultural notions about temporality.
Accessible Citizenships examines Chicana/o cultural representations that conceptualize political community through images of disability. Working against the assumption that disability is a metaphor for social decay or political crisis, Julie Avril Minich analyzes literature, film, and visual art post-1980 in which representations of non-normative bodies work to expand our understanding of what it means to belong to a political community.
Minich shows how queer writers like Arturo Islas and Cherríe Moraga have reconceptualized Chicano nationalism through disability images. She further addresses how the U.S.-Mexico border and disabled bodies restrict freedom and movement. Finally, she confronts the changing role of the nation-state in the face of neoliberalism as depicted in novels by Ana Castillo and Cecile Pineda.
Accessible Citizenships illustrates how these works gesture towards less exclusionary forms of citizenship and nationalism. Minich boldly argues that the corporeal images used to depict national belonging have important consequences for how the rights and benefits of citizenship are understood and distributed.
Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas discovers the prehistory of wireless culture. It examines both the coevolution of radio and the novel in Argentina, Cuba, and the United States from the early 1930s to the late 1960s, and the various populist political climates in which the emerging medium of radio became the chosen means to produce the voice of the people.
Based on original archival research in Buenos Aires, Havana, Paris, and the United States, the book develops a literary media theory that understands sound as a transmedial phenomenon and radio as a transnational medium. Analyzing the construction of new social and political relations in the wake of the United States’ 1930s Good Neighbor Policy, Acoustic Properties challenges standard narratives of hemispheric influence through new readings of Richard Wright’s cinematic work in Argentina, Severo Sarduy’s radio plays in France, and novels by John Dos Passos, Manuel Puig, Raymond Chandler, and Carson McCullers. Alongside these writers, the book also explores Che Guevara and Fidel Castro’s Radio Rebelde, FDR’s fireside chats, Félix Caignet’s invention of the radionovela in Cuba, Evita Perón’s populist melodramas in Argentina, Orson Welles’s experimental New Deal radio, Cuban and U.S. “radio wars,” and the 1960s African American activist Robert F. Williams’s proto–black power Radio Free Dixie.
From the doldrums of the Great Depression to the tumult of the Cuban Revolution, Acoustic Properties illuminates how novelists in the radio age converted writing into a practice of listening, transforming realism as they struggled to channel and shape popular power.
Found in scores of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American narratives, the action-adventure heroine leaves the domestic space to pursue an independent adventure. This bold heroine tramps alone through the forests, demonstrates tremendous physical strength, braves dangers without hesitation, enters the public realm to earn money, and even kills her enemies when necessary. Despite her transgressions of social norms, the narrator portrays this heroine in a positive light and lauds her for her bravery and daring. The Action-Adventure Heroine offers a wide-ranging look at this enigmatic character in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature.
Unlike the “tomboy” or the American frontierswoman, this more encompassing figure has been understudied until now. The action-adventure heroine has special relevance today, as scholars are forcefully challenging the once-dominant separate-spheres paradigm and offering alternative interpretations of gender conventions in nineteenth-century America. The hard-body action heroine in our contemporary popular culture is often assumed to be largely a product of the twentieth-century television and film industries (and therefore influenced by the women’s movement); however, physically strong, agile, sometimes violent female figures have appeared in American popular culture and literature for a very long time.
Smith analyzes captivity narratives, war narratives, stories of manifest destiny, dime novels, and tales of seduction to reveal the long literary history of female protagonists who step into traditionally masculine heroic roles to win the day. Smith’s study includes such authors as Herman Mann, Mercy Otis Warren, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, E.D.E.N. Southworth, Edward L. Wheeler, and many more who are due for critical reassessment. In examining the female hero—with her strength, physicality, and violence—in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century American narratives, The Action-Adventure Heroine represents an important contribution to the field of American studies.
SANDRA WILSON SMITH is an assistant professor of English at Temple University. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of American Studies, Southern Literary Journal, and E-Learning.
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.
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." A key chapter from Gayle's autobiography is supplemented by his literary criticism, and a general introduction and editor's notes for each section discuss the articles' lasting significance and influence.
The surprising claim of this book is that dwelling on loss is not necessarily depressing. Instead, Jonathan Flatley argues, embracing melancholy can be a road back to contact with others and can lead people to productively remap their relationship to the world around them. Flatley demonstrates that a seemingly disparate set of modernist writers and thinkers showed how aesthetic activity can give us the means to comprehend and change our relation to loss.
The texts at the center of Flatley’s analysis—Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, and Andrei Platonov’s Chevengur—share with Freud an interest in understanding the depressing effects of difficult losses and with Walter Benjamin the hope that loss itself could become a means of connection and the basis for social transformation. For Du Bois, Platonov, and James, the focus on melancholy illuminates both the historical origins of subjective emotional life and a heretofore unarticulated community of melancholics. The affective maps they produce make possible the conversion of a depressive melancholia into a way to be interested in the world.
African American Political Thought offers an unprecedented philosophical history of thinkers from the African American community and African diaspora who have addressed the central issues of political life: democracy, race, violence, liberation, solidarity, and mass political action. Melvin L. Rogers and Jack Turner have brought together leading scholars to reflect on individual intellectuals from the past four centuries, developing their list with an expansive approach to political expression. The collected essays consider such figures as Martin Delany, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Audre Lorde, whose works are addressed by scholars such as Farah Jasmin Griffin, Robert Gooding-Williams, Michael Dawson, Nick Bromell, Neil Roberts, and Lawrie Balfour.
While African American political thought is inextricable from the historical movement of American political thought, this volume stresses the individuality of Black thinkers, the transnational and diasporic consciousness, and how individual speakers and writers draw on various traditions simultaneously to broaden our conception of African American political ideas. This landmark volume gives us the opportunity to tap into the myriad and nuanced political theories central to Black life. In doing so, African American Political Thought: A Collected History transforms how we understand the past and future of political thinking in the West.
During the Jim Crow era, African American travelers faced the prospects of violence, harassment, and the denial of services, especially as they made their way throughout the American South. Those who journeyed outside the United States found not only a political and social context that was markedly different from America's, but in their international mobility, they also discovered new ways of identifying themselves in relation to others.
In this book, Gary Totten examines the global travel narratives of a diverse set of African American writers, including Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, Matthew Henson, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Zora Neale Hurston. While these writers deal with issues of identity in relation to a reimagined sense of self—in a way that we might expect to find in travel narratives—they also push against the constraints and conventions of the genre, reconsidering discourses of tourism, ethnography, and exploration. This book not only offers new insights about African American writers and mobility, it also charts the ideological distinctions and divergent agendas within this group of writers. Totten demonstrates how these travelers and their writings challenged dominant ideologies about African American experience, expression, and identity in a period of escalating racial violence. By setting these texts in their historical context and within the genre of travel writing, Totten presents a nuanced understanding of both popular and recovered work of the period.
Constraints on freedom, education, and individual dignity have always been fundamental in determining who is able to write, when, and where. Considering the singular experience of the African American writer, William W. Cook and James Tatum here argue that African American literature did not develop apart from canonical Western literary traditions but instead grew out of those literatures, even as it adapted and transformed the cultural traditions and religions of Africa and the African diaspora along the way.
Tracing the interaction between African American writers and the literatures of ancient Greece and Rome, from the time of slavery and its aftermath to the civil rights era and on into the present, the authors offer a sustained and lively discussion of the life and work of Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, and Rita Dove, among other highly acclaimed poets, novelists, and scholars. Assembling this brilliant and diverse group of African American writers at a moment when our understanding of classical literature is ripe for change, the authors paint an unforgettable portrait of our own reception of “classic” writing, especially as it was inflected by American racial politics.
Werner Sollors’ African American Writing takes a fresh look at what used to be called “Negro literature.” The essays collected here, ranging in topic from Gustavus Vassa/Olaudah Equiano to LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, and in time from the Enlightenment to the Obama presidency, take a literary approach to black writing and present writers as readers and as intellectuals who were or are open to the world.
From W.E.B. Du Bois commenting on Richard Wagner and Elvis Presley, to Zora Neale Hurston attacking Brown v. Board of Ed. in a segregationist newspaper, to Charles Chesnutt’s effigy darkened for the black heritage postage stamp, Sollors alternates between close readings and broader cultural contextualizations to delineate the various aesthetic modes and intellectual exchanges that shaped a series of striking literary works.
Readers will make often-surprising discoveries in the authors’ writing and in their encounters and dialogues with others. The essays, accompanied by Winold Reiss’s pastels, Carl Van Vechten’s photographs, and other portraits, attempt to honor this important literature’s achievement, heterogeneity, and creativity.
Bill V. Mullen University of Minnesota Press, 2004 Library of Congress E185.615.M75 2004 | Dewey Decimal 305.896073
Reveals a century of political solidarity uniting Asians and African Americans
As early as 1914, in his pivotal essay “The World Problem of the Color Line,” W. E. B. Du Bois was charting a search for Afro-Asian solidarity and for an international anticolonialism. In Afro-Orientalism, Bill Mullen traces the tradition of revolutionary thought and writing developed by African American and Asian American artists and intellectuals in response to Du Bois’s challenge.
Afro-Orientalism unfolds here as a distinctive strand of cultural and political work that contests the longstanding, dominant discourse about race and nation first fully named in Edward Said’s Orientalism. Mullen tracks Afro-Asian engagement with U.S. imperialism—including writings by Richard Wright, Grace and James Boggs, Robert F. Williams, and Fred Ho—and companion struggles against racism and capitalism around the globe. To this end, he offers Afro-Orientalism as an antidote to essentialist, race-based, or narrow conceptions of ethnic studies and postcolonial studies, calling on scholars in these fields to re-imagine their critical enterprises as mutually constituting and politically interdependent.
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
Growing out of the music scene, afrofuturism has emerged as an important aesthetic through films such as Black Panther and Get Out. While the significance of these sonic and visual avenues for afrofuturism cannot be underestimated, literature remains fundamental to understanding its full dimensions. Isiah Lavender’s Afrofuturism Rising explores afrofuturism as a narrative practice that enables users to articulate the interconnection between science, technology, and race across centuries.
By engaging with authors as diverse as Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Samuel R. Delany Jr., Pauline Hopkins, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright, Afrofuturism Rising extends existing scholarly conversations about who creates and what is created via science fiction. Through a trans-historical rereading of texts by these authors as science fiction, Lavender highlights the ways black experience in America has always been an experience of spatial and temporal dislocation akin to science fiction. Compelling and ambitious in scope, Afrofuturism Rising redefines both science fiction and literature as a whole.
In this collection of essays by seven outstanding American scholars, interests as diverse as feminism, Marxism, deconstruction, and cultural poetics are brought together around a central question: How does the choice of a particular theory after the practice of reading, and how do altered practices of reading in turn call forth more theory?
The work of black writers, editors, publishers, and librarians is deeply embedded in the history of American print culture, from slave narratives to digital databases. While the printed word can seem democratizing, it remains that the infrastructures of print and digital culture can be as limiting as they are enabling. Contributors to this volume explore the relationship between expression and such frameworks, analyzing how different mediums, library catalogs, and search engines shape the production and reception of written and visual culture. Topics include antebellum literature, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement; “post-Black” art, the role of black librarians, and how present-day technologies aid or hinder the discoverability of work by African Americans. Against a Sharp White Background covers elements of production, circulation, and reception of African American writing across a range of genres and contexts. This collection challenges mainstream book history and print culture to understand that race and racialization are inseparable from the study of texts and their technologies.
In Against Marginalization, Jose O. Fernandez examines thematic, aesthetic, historical, and cultural commonalities among post-1960s Black and Latinx writers, showing how such similarities have propelled their fight against social, cultural, and literary marginalization by engaging, adopting, and subverting elements from the larger American literary tradition. Drawing on the work of scholars in both literary traditions–including those who engage with the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s–Fernandez finds intriguing points of convergence. His cross-cultural and comparative analysis puts Black and Latinx authors and literary works into the same frame as he considers the plays of Amiri Baraka and Luis Valdez, the fiction of James Baldwin and Rudolfo Anaya, the essays of Ralph Ellison and Richard Rodriguez, novels by Alice Walker and Helena María Viramontes, and the short fiction of Edward P. Jones and Junot Díaz. Against Marginalization thus uncovers points of correspondence and convergence among Black and Latinx literary and cultural legacies, interrogating how both traditions have moved from a position of literary marginalization to a moment of visibility and critical recognition.
The Air-Line to Seattle
Kenneth S. Lynn University of Chicago Press, 1984 Library of Congress E175.L93 1983 | Dewey Decimal 973.072
In this controversial, wide-ranging, and fearlessly candid book, Kenneth S. Lynn argues that too many of our current commentators on the American past are out of touch with historical reality. His targets range from the currently fashionable but fantastic idea that the Declaration of Independence derives from a communitarian rather than individualistic philosophy to misinterpretations of the lives of Emerson, Walter Lippmann, Hemingway, and Max Perkins. In each case Lynn reveals the tendency of literary and intellectual historians to impose precooked formulas upon the evidence they profess to study.
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.
By Larzer Ziff University of Texas Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS374.B69Z54 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.009352341
From his celebrated appearance, hatchet in hand, in Parson Mason Locke Weems’s Life of Washington to Booth Tarkington’s Penrod, the all-American boy was an iconic figure in American literature for well over a century. Sometimes he was a “good boy,” whose dutiful behavior was intended as a model for real boys to emulate. Other times, he was a “bad boy,” whose mischievous escapades could be excused either as youthful exuberance that foreshadowed adult industriousness or as deserved attacks on undemocratic pomp and pretension. But whether good or bad, the all-American boy was a product of the historical moment in which he made his appearance in print, and to trace his evolution over time is to take a fresh view of America’s cultural history, which is precisely what Larzer Ziff accomplishes in All-American Boy.
Ziff looks at eight classic examples of the all-American boy—young Washington, Rollo, Tom Bailey, Tom Sawyer, Ragged Dick, Peck’s “bad boy,” Little Lord Fauntleroy, and Penrod—as well as two notable antitheses—Huckleberry Finn and Holden Caulfield. Setting each boy in a rich cultural context, Ziff reveals how the all-American boy represented a response to his times, ranging from the newly independent nation’s need for models of democratic citizenship, to the tales of rags-to-riches beloved during a century of accelerating economic competition, to the recognition of adolescence as a distinct phase of life, which created a stage on which the white, middle-class “solid citizen” boy and the alienated youth both played their parts.
In contemporary culture, the stereotypical trappings of “redneckism” have been appropriated
for everything from movies like Smokey and the Bandit to comedy acts like Larry the
Cable Guy. Even a recent president, George W. Bush, shunned his patrician pedigree in favor
of cowboy “authenticity” to appeal to voters. Whether identified with hard work and patriotism
or with narrow-minded bigotry, the Redneck and its variants have become firmly
established in American narrative consciousness.
This provocative book traces the emergence of the faux-Redneck within the context of
literary and cultural studies. Examining the icon’s foundations in James Fenimore Cooper’s
Natty Bumppo—“an ideal white man, free of the boundaries of civilization”—and the degraded
rural poor of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road, Matthew Ferrence shows how Redneck
stereotypes were further extended in Deliverance, both the novel and the film, and in
a popular cycle of movies starring Burt Reynolds in the 1970s and ’80s, among other manifestations.
As a contemporary cultural figure, the author argues, the Redneck represents
no one in particular but offers a model of behavior and ideals for many. Most important,
it has become a tool—reductive, confining, and (sometimes, almost) liberating—by which
elite forces gather and maintain social and economic power. Those defying its boundaries,
as the Dixie Chicks did when they criticized President Bush and the Iraq invasion, have
done so at their own peril. Ferrence contends that a refocus of attention to the complex
realities depicted in the writings of such authors as Silas House, Fred Chappell, Janisse Ray,
and Trudier Harris can help dislodge persistent stereotypes and encourage more nuanced
understandings of regional identity.
In a cultural moment when so-called Reality Television has turned again toward popular
images of rural Americans (as in, for example, Duck Dynasty and Moonshiners), All-
American Redneck reveals the way in which such images have long been manipulated for
particular social goals, almost always as a means to solidify the position of the powerful at
the expense of the regional.
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. She also covers in detail the South Side Community Art Center and the South Side Writers' Group, two institutions of art and literature that engendered a unique aesthetic consciousness and political ideology for which the Black Chicago Renaissance would garner much fame.
Life in Bronzeville also involved economic hardship and social injustice, themes that resonated throughout the flourishing arts scene. Schlabach explores Bronzeville's harsh living conditions, exemplified in the cramped one-bedroom kitchenette apartments that housed many of the migrants drawn to the city's promises of opportunity and freedom. Many struggled with the precariousness of urban life, and Schlabach shows how the once vibrant neighborhood eventually succumbed to the pressures of segregation and economic disparity. Providing a virtual tour South Side African American urban life at street level, Along the Streets of Bronzeville charts the complex interplay and intersection of race, geography, and cultural criticism during the Black Chicago Renaissance's rise and fall.
The image of the shadow in mid-twentieth-century America appeared across a variety of genres and media including poetry, pulp fiction, photography, and film. Drawing on an extensive framework that ranges from Cold War cultural histories to theorizations of psychoanalysis and the Gothic, Erik Mortenson argues that shadow imagery in 1950s and 1960s American culture not only reflected the anxiety and ambiguity of the times but also offered an imaginative space for artists to challenge the binary rhetoric associated with the Cold War.
After contextualizing the postwar use of shadow imagery in the wake of the atomic bomb, Ambiguous Borderlands looks at shadows in print works, detailing the reemergence of the pulp fiction crime fighter the Shadow in the late-1950s writings of Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac. Using Freudian and Jungian conceptions of the unconscious, Mortenson then discusses Kerouac’s and Allen Ginsberg’s shared dream of a “shrouded stranger” and how it shaped their Beat aesthetic. Turning to the visual, Mortenson examines the dehumanizing effect of shadow imagery in the Cold War photography of Robert Frank, William Klein, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Mortenson concludes with an investigation of the use of chiaroscuro in 1950s film noir and the popular television series The Twilight Zone, further detailing how the complexities of Cold War society were mirrored across these media in the ubiquitous imagery of light and dark.
From comics to movies, Beats to bombs, Ambiguous Borderlands provides a novel understanding of the Cold War cultural context through its analysis of the image of the shadow in midcentury media. Its interdisciplinary approach, ambitious subject matter, and diverse theoretical framing make it essential reading for anyone interested in American literary and popular culture during the fifties and sixties.
“John Shields's book is a provocative challenge to the venerable Adamic myth so exhaustively deployed in examinations of early American literature and in American studies. Moreover, The American Aeneas builds wonderfully on Shields's considerable work on Phillis Wheatley. “?—American Literature??
“The American Aeneas should be of interest to classicists and American studies scholars alike.” ?—The New England Quarterly??
John Shields exposes a significant cultural blindness within American consciousness. Noting the biblical character Adam as an archetype who has long dominated ideas of what it means to be American, Shields argues that an equally important component of our nation’s cultural identity—a secular one deriving from the classical tradition—has been seriously neglected.??Shields shows how Adam and Aeneas—Vergil’s hero of the Aeneid— in crossing over to American from Europe, dynamically intermingled in the thought of the earliest American writers. Shields argues that uncovering and acknowledging the classical roots of our culture can allay the American fear of “pastlessness” that the long-standing emphasis on the Adamic myth has generated.
John C. Shields is the editor of The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley and the author of The American Aeneas: Classical Origins of the American Self, which won a Choice Outstanding Academic Book award and an honorable mention in the Harry Levin Prize competition, sponsored by the American Comparative Literature Association.
One of the foremost critics in contemporary American letters, Christopher Benfey has long been known for his brilliant and incisive essays. Appearing in such publications as the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, and the Times Literary Supplement, Benfey's writings have helped us reimagine the American literary canon. In American Audacity, Benfey gathers his finest writings on eminent American authors (including Emerson, Dickinson, Whitman, Millay, Faulkner, Frost, and Welty), bringing to his subjects---as the New York Times Book Review has said of his earlier work---"a scholar's thoroughness, a critic's astuteness and a storyteller's sense of drama."
Although Benfey's interests range from art to literature to social history, this collection focuses on particular American writers and the various ways in which an American identity and culture inform their work. Broken into three sections, "Northerners,""Southerners," and "The Union Reconsidered," American Audacity explores a variety of canonical works, old (Emerson, Dickinson, Millay, Whitman), modern (Faulkner, Dos Passos), and more contemporary (Gary Snyder, E. L. Doctorow).
Christopher Benfey is the author of numerous highly regarded books, including Emily Dickinson: Lives of a Poet; The Double Life of Stephen Crane; Degas in New Orleans: Encounters in the Creole World of Kate Chopin and George Washington Cable; and, most recently, The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan. Benfey's poems have appeared in the Paris Review, Pequod, and Ploughshares. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Currently he is Mellon Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College.
"In its vigorous and original criticism of American writers, Christopher Benfey's American Audacity displays its own audacities on every page."
---William H. Pritchard
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.
Fakery, authenticity, and identity in American literature and culture at the turn of the 20th century
Focusing on texts written between 1880 and 1930, Mary McAleer Balkun explores the concept of the “counterfeit,” both in terms of material goods and invented identities, and the ways that the acquisition of objects came to define individuals in American culture and literature. Counterfeiting is, in one sense, about the creation of something that appears authentic—an invented self, a museum display, a forged work of art. But the counterfeit can also be a means by which the authentic is measured, thereby creating our conception of the true or real.
When counterfeiting is applied to individual identities, it fosters fluidity in social boundaries and the games of social climbing and passing that have come to be representative of American culture: the Horatio Alger story, the con man or huckster, the social climber, the ethnically ambiguous.
Balkun provides new readings of traditional texts such as The Great Gatsby, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The House of Mirth, as well as readings of less-studied texts, such as Walt Whitman’s Specimen Days and Nella Larsen’s Passing. In each of these texts, Balkun locates the presence of manufactured identities and counterfeit figures, demonstrating that where authenticity and consumerism intersect, the self becomes but another commodity to be promoted, sold, and eventually consumed.
This concise literary history of the American Enlightenment captures the varied and conflicting voices of religious and political conviction in the decades when the new nation was formed. Robert Ferguson’s trenchant interpretation yields new understanding of this pivotal period for American culture.
Jordan Carson’s American Exceptionalism as Religion looks at how American nationalist ideologies intersect with religious ones in contemporary literature. Carson traces out how an exceptionalist belief system began to emerge historically with a distorted picture of religious commitment. He then connects this trend to writers such as Don DeLillo, Ana Castillo, Thomas Pynchon, George Saunders, and Marilynne Robinson to argue that these authors dismantle the privatization of religion in their writing and then offer their own alternatives. Their work, he argues, redefines religion in terms of practice and discipline, gauging it by its power to ground and guide behavior, morality, and sociality.
As American exceptionalism resurfaces in public discourse, Carson’s timely work invites readers to reconsider the nexus of religion, politics, and culture. Carson argues that defining religion according to secularist criteria has insulated ostensibly secular ideologies as well as traditional religion from public scrutiny. DeLillo’s, Castillo’s, Pynchon’s, Saunders’s, and Robinson’s redefinitions of religion result in a better grasp of how individuals actually live out their religious lives. More importantly, these authors help erect a framework for constructively engaging American exceptionalism and the ideas that support it.
Culture-to-culture encounters between "natives" and "aliens" have gone on for centuries in the American Southwest—among American Indian tribes, between American Indians and Euro-Americans, and even, according to some, between humans and extraterrestrials at Roswell, New Mexico. Drawing on a wide range of cultural productions including novels, films, paintings, comic strips, and historical studies, this groundbreaking book explores the Southwest as both a real and a culturally constructed site of migration and encounter, in which the very identities of "alien" and "native" shift with each act of travel.
Eric Anderson pursues his inquiry through an unprecedented range of cultural texts. These include the Roswell spacecraft myths, Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead, Wendy Rose's poetry, the outlaw narratives of Billy the Kid, Apache autobiographies by Geronimo and Jason Betzinez, paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe, New West history by Patricia Nelson Limerick, Frank Norris' McTeague, Mary Austin's The Land of Little Rain, Sarah Winnemucca's Life Among the Piutes, Willa Cather's The Professor's House, George Herriman's modernist comic strip Krazy Kat, and A. A. Carr's Navajo-vampire novel Eye Killers.
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.
American Literary Minimalism
Robert C. Clark University of Alabama Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS366.M55C53 2015 | Dewey Decimal 810.911
Fills a need for a comprehensive study of this twentieth-century literary movement
Although a handful of books and articles have been written about American literary Minimalism during the last forty years, the mode remains misunderstood. When in a 2011 interview in The Paris Review author Ann Beattie was asked how she felt about being “classed as a minimalist,” she began her answer: “none of us have ever known what that means.” Her response brings into focus the lack of agreement or clarity about the sources and definitions of literary Minimalism. Robert C. Clark’s American Literary Minimalism fills this significant gap.
Clark demonstrates that, despite assertions by many scholars to the contrary, the movement originated in the aesthetic programs of the Imagists and literary Impressionists active at the turn of the twentieth century. The genre reflects the philosophy that “form is thought,” and that style alone dictates whether a poem, story, or novel falls within the parameters of the tradition. The characteristics of Minimalist fiction are efficiency, frequent use of allusion, and implication through omission.
Organizing his analysis both chronologically and according to lines of influence, Clark offers a definition of the mode, describes its early stages, and then explores six works that reflect its core characteristics: Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time; Raymond Carver’s Cathedral; Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City; Susan Minot’s Monkeys; Sandra Cisneros’s Caramelo; and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. In his conclusion, Clark discusses the ongoing evolution of the category.
The time is right for a critical reassessment of Cold War culture both because its full cultural impact remains unprocessed and because some of the chief paradigms for understanding that culture confuse rather than clarify.
A collection of the work of some of the best cultural critics writing about the period, American Literature and Culture in an Age of Cold War reveals a broad range of ways that American cultural production from the late 1940s to the present might be understood in relation to the Cold War. Critically engaging the reigning paradigms that equate postwar U.S. culture with containment culture, the authors present suggestive revisionist claims. Their essays draw on a literary archive—including the works of John Updike, Joan Didion, Richard E. Kim, Allen Ginsberg, Edwin Denby, Alice Childress, Frank Herbert, and others—strikingly different from the one typically presented in accounts of the period.
Likewise, the authors describe phenomena—such as the FBI’s surveillance of writers (especially African Americans), biopolitics, development theory, struggles over the centralization and decentralization of government, and the cultural work of Reaganism—that open up new contexts for discussing postwar culture. Extending the timeline and expanding the geographic scope of Cold War culture, this book reveals both the literature and the culture of the time to be more dynamic and complex than has been generally supposed.
In this challenging work, Ronald E. Martin analyzes the impulse of major nineteenth- and twentieth-century American writers to undermine not only their inherited paradigms of literary and linguistic thought but to question how paradigms themselves are constructed. Through analyses of these writers, as well as contemporaneous scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, and visual artists, American Literature and the Destruction of Knowledge creates a panoramic view of American literature over the past 150 years and shows it to be a crucial part of the great philosophical changes of the period. The works of Melville, Emerson, Whitman, and Dickinson, followed by Crane, Frost, Pound, Stein, Hemingway, Dos Passos, Aiken, Stevens, and Williams, are examined as part of a cultural current that casts doubt on the possibility of knowledge itself. The destruction of concepts, of literary and linguistic forms, was for these writers a precondition for liberating the imagination to gain more access to the self and the real world. As part of the exploration of this cultural context, literary and philosophical realisms are examined together, allowing a comparison of their somewhat different objectives, as well as their common epistemological predicament.
"By casting the collection explicitly as an outreach to the larger community of Americanists---not primarily those who self-identify as 'digital scholars'---Earhart and Jewell have made an important choice, and one that will likely make this a landmark publication."
---Andrew Stauffer, University of Virginia
The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age, which features a wide range of practitioner-scholars, is the first of its kind: a gathering of people who are expert in American literary studies and in digital technologies, scholars uniquely able to draw from experience with building digital resources and to provide theoretical commentary on how the transformation to new technologies alters the way we think about and articulate scholarship in American literature. The volume collects articles from those who are involved in tool development, usability testing, editing and textual scholarship, digital librarianship, and issues of race and ethnicity in digital humanities, while also situating digital humanities work within the larger literary discipline. In addition, the volume examines the traditional structures of the fields, including tenure and promotion criteria, modes of scholarly production, the skill sets required for scholarship, and the training of new scholars.
The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age will attract practitioners of digital humanities in multiple fields, Americanists who utilize digital materials, and those who are intellectually curious about the new movement and materials.
Amy E. Earhart is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Texas A&M University.
Andrew Jewell is Associate Professor of Digital Projects, University Libraries, at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.
The story of the “American Mediterranean,” both an idea and a shorthand popularized by geographers, historians, novelists, and travel writers from the early nineteenth century to the 1970s.
The naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, visiting the Gulf-Caribbean in the early nineteenth century, called it America’s Mediterranean. Almost a century later, Southern California was hailed as “Our Mediterranean, Our Italy!” Although “American Mediterranean” is not a household phrase in the United States today, it once circulated widely in French, Spanish, and English as a term of art and folk idiom. In this book, Susan Gillman asks what cultural work is done by this kind of unsystematic, open-ended comparative thinking.
American Mediterraneans tracks two centuries of this geohistorical concept, from Humboldt in the early 1800s, to writers of the 1890s reflecting on the Pacific world of the California coast, to writers of the 1930s and 40s speculating on the political past and future of the Caribbean. Following the term through its travels across disciplines and borders, American Mediterraneans reveals a little-known racialized history, one that paradoxically appealed to a range of race-neutral ideas and ideals.
American Naturalism and the Jews examines the unabashed anti-Semitism of five notable American naturalist novelists otherwise known for their progressive social values. Hamlin Garland, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser all pushed for social improvements for the poor and oppressed, while Edith Wharton and Willa Cather both advanced the public status of women. But they all also expressed strong prejudices against the Jewish race and faith throughout their fiction, essays, letters, and other writings, producing a contradiction in American literary history that has stymied scholars and, until now, gone largely unexamined. In this breakthrough study, Donald Pizer confronts this disconcerting strain of anti-Semitism pervading American letters and culture, illustrating how easily prejudice can coexist with even the most progressive ideals.
Pizer shows how these writers' racist impulses represented more than just personal biases, but resonated with larger social and ideological movements within American culture. Anti-Semitic sentiment motivated such various movements as the western farmers' populist revolt and the East Coast patricians' revulsion against immigration, both of which Pizer discusses here. This antagonism toward Jews and other non-Anglo-Saxon ethnicities intersected not only with these authors' social reform agendas but also with their literary method of representing the overpowering forces of heredity, social or natural environment, and savage instinct.
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.
An American Procession
Alfred Kazin Harvard University Press, 1996 Library of Congress PS88.K3 1996 | Dewey Decimal 810.9
In this illuminating study of the “crucial century” (1830–1930), Alfred Kazin views the major figures in American writing, beginning in the 1830s when Ralph Waldo Emerson founded a national literature on the basis of a religious revolution, and ending on the eve of the 1930s with modernism—Eliot, Pound, Hemingway, Fitzgerald—and with the revelation of the “postponed power” of those who had been modern before their time—Henry Adams, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson.
"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
This wide-ranging collection brings together an eclectic group of scholars to reflect upon the transnational configurations of the field of American studies and how these have affected its localizations, epistemological perspectives, ecological imaginaries, and politics of translation. The volume elaborates on the causes of the transnational paradigm shift in American studies and describes the material changes that this new paradigm has effected during the past two decades. The contributors hail from a variety of postcolonial, transoceanic, hemispheric, and post-national positions and sensibilities, enabling them to theorize a “crossroads of cultures” explanation of transnational American studies that moves beyond the multicultural studies model. Offering a rich and rewarding mix of essays and case studies, this collection will satisfy a broad range of students and scholars.
In 1997, when the New York Times described Filipino American serial killer Andrew Cunanan as appearing “to be everywhere and nowhere,” Allan Punzalan Isaac recognized confusion about the Filipino presence in the United States, symptomatic of American imperialism’s invisibility to itself. In American Tropics, Isaac explores American fantasies about the Philippines and other “unincorporated” parts of the U.S. nation that obscure the contradictions of a democratic country possessing colonies.Isaac boldly examines the American empire’s images of the Philippines in turn-of-the-century legal debates over Puerto Rico, Progressive-era popular literature set in Latin American borderlands, and midcentury Hollywood cinema staged in Hawai‘i and the Pacific islands. Isaac scrutinizes media coverage of the Cunanan case, Boy Scout adventure novels, and Hollywood films such as The Real Glory (1939) and Blue Hawaii (1961) to argue that territorial sites of occupation are an important part of American identity. American Tropics further reveals the imperial imagination’s role in shaping national meaning in novels such as Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart (1946) and Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters (1990), Filipino American novels forced to articulate the empire’s enfolded but disavowed borders.Tracing the American empire from the beginning of the twentieth century to Philippine liberation and the U.S. civil rights movement, American Tropics lays bare Filipino Americans’ unique form of belonging marked indelibly by imperialism and at odds with U.S. racial politics and culture.Allan Punzalan Isaac is assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University.
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.
Trust in media and political institutions is at an all-time low in America, yet veterans enjoy an unmatched level of credibility and moral authority. Their war stories have become crucial testimony about the nation's leadership, foreign policies, and wars. Veterans' memoirs are not simply self-revelatory personal chronicles but contributions to political culture—to the stories circulated and incorporated into national myths and memories.
American War Stories centers on an extensive selection of memoirs written by veterans of the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan conflicts—including Brian Turner's My Life as a Foreign Country, Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor, and Camilo Mejia's Road from ar Ramadi—to explore the complex relationship between memory and politics in the context of postmodern war. Placing veterans' stories in conversation with broader cultural and political discourses, Myra Mendible analyzes the volatile mix of agendas, identities, and issues informing veteran-writers' narrative choices to argue that their work plays an important, though underexamined, political function in how Americans remember and judge their wars.
Winner of the 2000 Hubbell Award from the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association of America
Choice Outstanding Academic Title
During the nineteenth century, the content and institutional organization of the sciences evolved dramatically, altering the public's understanding of knowledge. As science grew in importance, many women of letters tried to incorporate it into a female worldview. Nina Baym explores the responses to science displayed in a range of writings by American women. Conceding that they could not become scientists, women insisted, however, that they were capable of understanding science and participating in its discourse. They used their access to publishing to advocate the study and transmission of scientific information to the general public.
Bayms book includes biographies and a full exploration of these women's works. Among those considered are:
• Almira Phelps, author of Familiar Lectures on Botany (it sold 350,000 copies)
• Sarah Hale, who filled Godey's Lady's Book with science articles
• Catharine Esther Beecher, who based her domestic advice on scientific information
• Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, the actual ghostwriter of her husband's popular science essays
• Emily Dickinson, whose poetry is replete with scientific images.
Baym also investigates science in women's novels, writing by and about women doctors, and the scientific claims advanced by women's spiritualist movements. This book truly breaks new ground, outlining a field of inquiry that few have noted exists.
Daniel Aaron University of Michigan Press, 2009 Library of Congress E175.5.A15A3 2007 | Dewey Decimal 973.07202
“I have read all of Daniel Aaron’s books, and admired them, but in The Americanist I believe he has composed an intellectual and social memoir for which he will be remembered. His self-portrait is marked by personal tact and admirable restraint: he is and is not its subject. The Americanist is a vision of otherness: literary and academic friends and acquaintances, here and abroad. Eloquently phrased and free of nostalgia, it catches a lost world that yet engendered much of our own.”
“The Americanist is the absorbing intellectual autobiography of Daniel Aaron, who is the leading proponent and practitioner of American Studies. Written with grace and wit, it skillfully blends Daniel Aaron’s personal story with the history of the field he has done so much to create. This is a first-rate book by a first-rate scholar.”
—David Herbert Donald, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
The Americanist is author and critic Daniel Aaron’s anthem to nearly a century of public and private life in America and abroad. Aaron, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of American Studies, graduated from the University of Michigan, received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and taught for over three decades each at Smith College and Harvard.
Aaron writes with unsentimental nostalgia about his childhood in Los Angeles and Chicago and his later academic career, which took him around the globe, often in the role of America’s accidental yet impartial critic. When Walt Whitman, whom Aaron frequently cites as a touchstone, wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes,” he could have been describing Daniel Aaron—the consummate erudite and Renaissance individual whose allegiance to the truth always outweighs mere partisan loyalty.
Not only should Aaron’s book stand as a resplendent and summative work from one of the finest thinkers of the last hundred years, it also succeeds on its own as a first-rate piece of literature, on a par with the writings of any of its subjects. The Americanist is a veritable Who’s Who of twentieth-century writers Aaron interviewed, interacted with, or otherwise encountered throughout his life: Ralph Ellison, Robert Frost, Lillian Hellman, Richard Hofstadter, Alfred Kazin, Sinclair Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, John Crowe Ransom, Upton Sinclair, Edmund Wilson, Leonard Woolf, and W. B. Yeats, to name only a few.
Aaron’s frank and personal observations of these literary lights make for lively reading. As well, scattered throughout The Americanist are illuminating portraits of American presidents living and passed—miniature masterworks of astute political observation that offer dazzlingly fresh approaches to well-trod subjects.
Analogical Thinking argues that sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, a new mode of comprehension arose, supplementing received Enlightenment ideas concerning the nature of understanding and explanation. Focusing on the innovations of structural linguistics and its poststructural legacy, the individualism of Enlightenment knowledge and the collaborations of post-Enlightenment information, and practices of reading and interpretation across the arts and sciences, Analogical Thinking examines the ways in which analogical presentations of similarities respond to the experiences of twentieth-century culture.
The book traces this mode of thinking in linguistics, collaborative intellectual work in the arts and sciences, and interpretations of literary and sacred texts, concluding with a reading of the concept of Enlightenment in a comparison of Descartes and Foucault. The book examines the poststructuralism of Derrida; the collaborations of information theory and modern science as opposed to the individualism of Adam Smith and others, and analogical interpretations of Yeats, Dinesen, the Bible, Dreiser, and Mailer. Its overall aim is to present an interdisciplinary examination of a particular kind of understanding that responds to the experiences of our time.
Ronald Schleifer is Professor of English, University of Oklahoma. His books include Rhetoric and Death: The Language of Modernism and Postmodern Discourse Theory, Criticism and Culture; and Culture and Cognition: The Boundaries of Literary and Scientific Inquiry.
Upper Peninsula literature has traditionally been suppressed or minimized in Michigan anthologies and Michigan literature as a whole. Even the Upper Peninsula itself has been omitted from maps, creating a people and a place that have become in many ways “ungeographic.” These people and this place are strongly made up of traditionally marginalized groups such as the working class, the rural poor, and Native Americans, which adds even more insult to the exclusion and forced oppressive silence. And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917–2017, gives voice to Upper Peninsula writers, ensuring that they are included in Michigan’s rich literary history. Ambitiously, And Here includes great U.P. writing from every decade spanning from the 1910s to the 2010s, starting with Lew R. Sarett’s (a.k.a. Lone Caribou) “The Blue Duck: A Chippewa Medicine Dance” and ending with Margaret Noodin’s “Babejianjisemigad” and Sally Brunk’s “KBIC.” Taken as a whole, the anthology forcefully insists on the geographic and literary inclusion of the U.P.—on both the map and the page.
Androgynous Democracy examines how the notions of gender equality propounded by transcendentalists and other nineteenth-century writers were further developed and complicated by the rise of literary modernism. Aaron Shaheen specifically investigates the ways in which intellectual discussions of androgyny, once detached from earlier gonadal-based models, were used by various American authors to formulate their own paradigms of democratic national cohesion. Indeed, Henry James, Frank Norris, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, John Crowe Ransom, Grace Lumpkin, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Marita Bonner all expressed a deep fascination with androgyny—an interest that bore directly on their thoughts about some of the most prominent issues America confronted as it moved into the first decades of the twentieth century.
Shaheen not only considers the work of each of these seven writers individually, but he also reveals the interconnectedness of their ideas. He shows that Henry James used the concept of androgyny to make sense of the discord between the North and the South in the years immediately following the Civil War, while Norris and Gilman used it to formulate a new model of citizenship in the wake of America’s industrial ascendancy. The author next explores the uses Ransom and Lumpkin made of androgyny in assessing the threat of radicalism once the Great Depression had weakened the country’s faith in both capitalism and religious fundamentalism. Finally, he looks at how androgyny was instrumental in the discussions of racial uplift and urban migration generated by Du Bois and Bonner.
Thoroughly documented, this engrossing volume will be a valuable resource in the fields of American literary criticism, feminism and gender theory, queer theory, and politics and nationalism.
Aaron Shaheen is UC Foundation Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He has published articles in the Southern Literary Journal, American Literary Realism, and the Henry James Review.
Though he has spent half of his life elsewhere, Gregory Orfalea has remained obsessed with Los Angeles. That “brutal, beautiful city along the Pacific sea” shaped him and led to a series of essays originally published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine. These deeply moving pieces are gathered here together for the first time.
Populated with fascinating characters—the Angelenos of Orfalea’s life—these essays tell the story of the author’s trials. He returns to Los Angeles to teach, trying to reconcile the LA of his childhood with the city he now faces. He takes on progressively more difficult and painful subjects, finally confronting the memories of the shocking tragedy that took the lives of his father and sister.
With more than 400,000 Arab Americans in Los Angeles—probably surpassing Detroit as the largest contingent in America—Orfalea also explores his own community and its political and social concerns. He agonizes over another destruction of Lebanon and examines in searing detail a massacre of civilians in Iraq.
Angeleno Days takes the memoir and personal essay to rare heights. Orfalea is a deeply human writer who reveals not only what it means to be human in America now, but also what it will take to remain human in the days to come. These essays soar, confound, reveal, and strike at our senses and sensibilities, forcing us to think and feel in new ways.
Although women and men have different relationships to language and to each other, traditional theories of rhetoric do not foreground such gender differences. Krista Ratcliffe argues that because feminists generally have not conceptualized their language theories from the perspective of rhetoric and composition studies, rhetoric and composition scholars must construct feminist theories of rhetoric by employing a variety of interwoven strategies: recovering lost or marginalized texts; rereading traditional rhetoric texts; extrapolating rhetorical theories from such nonrhetoric texts as letters, diaries, essays, cookbooks, and other sources; and constructing their own theories of rhetoric.
Focusing on the third option, Ratcliffe explores ways in which the rhetorical theories of Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly, and Adrienne Rich may be extrapolated from their Anglo-American feminist texts through examination of the interrelationship between what these authors write and how they write. In other words, she extrapolates feminist theories of rhetoric from interwoven claims and textual strategies. By inviting Woolf, Daly, and Rich into the rhetorical traditions and by modeling the extrapolation strategy/methodology on their writings, Ratcliffe shows how feminist texts about women, language, and culture may be reread from the vantage point of rhetoric to construct feminist theories of rhetoric. She also outlines the pedagogical implications of these three feminist theories of rhetoric, thus contributing to ongoing discussions of feminist pedagogies.
Traditional rhetorical theories are gender-blind, ignoring the reality that women and men occupy different cultural spaces and that these spaces are further complicated by race and class, Ratcliffe explains. Arguing that issues such as who can talk, where one can talk, and how one can talk emerge in daily life but are often disregarded in rhetorical theories, Ratcliffe rereads Roland Barthes’ "The Old Rhetoric" to show the limitations of classical rhetorical theories for women and feminists. Discovering spaces for feminist theories of rhetoric in the rhetorical traditions, Ratcliffe invites readers not only to question how women have been located as a part of— and apart from—these traditions but also to explore the implications for rhetorical history, theory, and pedagogy.
In the antebellum years, the Western world’s symbolic realities were expanded and challenged as merchant, military, and scientific activity moved into Pacific and Arctic waters. In Antebellum at Sea, Jason Berger explores the roles that early nineteenth-century maritime narratives played in conceptualizing economic and social transitions in the developing global market system and what these chronicles disclose about an era marked by immense change.
Focusing on the work of James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville, Berger enhances our understanding of how the nineteenth century negotiated its own tenuous progress by portraying how a wide range of maritime stories lays bare disturbing experiences of the new. Berger draws on Slavoj Žižek’s Lacanian notion of fantasy in order to reconsider the complex way maritime accounts operated in the political landscape of antebellum America, examining topics such as the function of maritime labor know-how within a transformation of scientific knowledge, anxiety produced by conflict between gender-specific and culture-specific forms of enjoyment, and how legal practices illuminate troubling juridical paradoxes at the heart of Polk-era political life.
Addressing the ideas of the antebellum age from unexpected and revealing perspectives, Berger calls on the conception of fantasy to consider how antebellum maritime literature disputes conventional views of American history, literature, and national identity.
Anti-Apocalypse was first published in 1994. 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.
As the year 2000 looms, heralding a new millennium, apocalyptic thought abounds-and not merely among religious radicals. In politics, science, philosophy, popular culture, and feminist discourse, apprehensions of the End appear in images of cultural decline and urban chaos, forecasts of the end of history and ecological devastation, and visions of a new age of triumphant technology or a gender-free utopia. There is, Lee Quinby contends, a threatening "regime of truth" prevailing in the United States-and this regime, with its enforcement of absolute truth and morality, imperils democracy. In Anti-Apocalypse, Quinby offers a powerful critique of the millenarian rhetoric that pervades American culture. In doing so, she develops strategies for resisting its tyrannies.
Drawing on feminist and Foucauldian theory, Quinby explores the complex relationship between power, truth, ethics, and apocalypse. She exposes the ramifications of this relationship in areas as diverse as jeanswear magazine advertising, the Human Genome project, contemporary feminism and philosophy, texts by Henry Adams and Zora Neale Hurston, and radical democratic activism. By bringing together such a wide range of topics, Quinby shows how apocalypse weaves its way through a vast network of seemingly unrelated discourses and practices. Tracing the deployment of power through systems of alliance, sexuality, and technology, Quinby reveals how these power relationships produce conflicting modes of subjectivity that create possibilities for resistance. She promotes a variety of critical stances—genealogical feminism, an ethics of the flesh, and "pissed criticism"—as challenges to apocalyptic claims for absolute truth and universal morality. Far-reaching in its implications for social and cultural theory as well as for political activism, Anti-Apocalypse will engage readers across the cultural spectrum and challenge them to confront one of the most subtle and insidious orthodoxies of our day.
Lee Quinby is associate professor of English and American studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of Freedom, Foucault, and the Subject of America (1991) and coeditor (with Irene Diamond) of Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance (1988).
While John Winthrop might have famously uttered the phrase “city upon a hill” on the way to Massachusetts, the strands of millennialism and exceptionalism that remain so central to U.S. political discourse are now dominated by eschatological visions that have emerged from the particular historical experiences of the U.S. South. Despite the strategic exploitation of this reality by political communicators, scholars in the humanities have paid little attention to the eschatological visions offered by southern religious culture.
Fortunately, writers and artists have not ignored such matters; compared to their academic counterparts, southern novelists have been far better attuned to a southern apocalyptic imaginary—a field of reference, drawn from the cosmology of southern evangelical Protestantism, that maps the apocalyptic possibilities of cataclysm, judgment, deliverance, and even revolution onto the landscape of the region. Apocalypse South rectifies the omissions in existing scholarship by interrogating the role of apocalyptic discourse in selected works of fiction by four southern writers—William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Randall Kenan, and Dorothy Allison. In doing so, it reinvigorates discussions of religion in southern literary scholarship and introduces a new element in the ongoing investigation into how regional identities function in notions of national mission and American exceptionalism. Engaging concerns of religion, race, sexuality, and community in fiction from the 1930s to the present, Apocalypse South offers a new conceptual framework for considering what has long been considered “southern Gothic literature”—a framework less concerned with the conventions of a particular literary genre than with the ways in which literature exposes and even tries to make sense of the contradictions within cultures.
Appalachia in the Classroom contributes to the twenty-first century dialogue about Appalachia by offering topics and teaching strategies that represent the diversity found within the region. Appalachia is a distinctive region with various cultural characteristics that can’t be essentialized or summed up by a single text.
Appalachia in the Classroom offers chapters on teaching Appalachian poetry and fiction as well as discussions of nonfiction, films, and folklore. Educators will find teaching strategies that they can readily implement in their own classrooms; they’ll also be inspired to employ creative ways of teaching marginalized voices and to bring those voices to the fore. In the growing national movement toward place-based education, Appalachia in the Classroom offers a critical resource and model for engaging place in various disciplines and at several different levels in a thoughtful and inspiring way.
Contributors: Emily Satterwhite, Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, John C. Inscoe, Erica Abrams Locklear, Jeff Mann, Linda Tate, Tina L. Hanlon, Patricia M. Gantt, Ricky L. Cox, Felicia Mitchell, R. Parks Lanier, Jr., Theresa L. Burriss, Grace Toney Edwards, and Robert M. West.
Edited by Robert J. Higgs, Ambrose N. Manning, and Jim Wayne Miller
These two volumes constitute the most comprehensive anthology of writings on Appalachia ever assembled. Representing the work of approximately two hundred authors—fiction writers, poets, scholars in disciplines such as history, literary criticism, and sociology—Appalachia Inside Out reveals the fascinating diversity of the region and lays to rest many of the reductive stereotypes long associated with it.
Intended as a sequel to the widely respected collection Voices of the Hills, edited by Robert Higgs and Ambrose Manning and published twenty years ago, these volumes reflect the recent proliferation of imaginative and critical writing about Appalachia—a proliferation that suggests nothing less than a renaissance of collective self-assessment. The selections are organized around a variety of themes (including "War and Revolution," "Feuds and Violence," "Nature and Progress," "Dialect and Language," "Exile, Return, and Sense of Place," and "Majority and Minority") and reveal both the radical changes the region has undergone as well as the persistence of certain defining features.
The title Appalachia Inside Out refers in part to the fact that Appalachia has never existed in timeless isolation from the rest of country and the world; rather, it has both absorbed outside influences and exerted influence of its own. The title also indicates the editors' effort to look not only at the visible Appalachia but at the forces that underlie its history and culture. What emerges in these pages is an Appalachia both familiar and strange: a mirror of lived life on the one hand and, on the other, a haunted realm of unimaginable loss and bewitching possibility.
The Editors: Robert J. Higgs is professor of English, emeritus, at East Tennessee State University and the author of Laurel and Thorn: The Athlete in American Literature.
Ambrose N. Manning is professor of English, emeritus, at East Tennessee State University and a noted collector of folk songs and folklore.
Jim Wayne Miller, a poet, novelist, and essayist, is a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Intercultural Studies at Western Kentucky University.
The two volumes of Appalachia Inside Out constitute the most comprehensive anthology of writings on Appalachia ever assembled. Representing the work of approximately two hundred authors-fiction writers, poets, scholars in disciplines such as history, literary criticism, and sociology-Appalachia Inside Out reveals the fascinating diversity of the region and lays to rest many of the reductive stereotypes long associated with it.
Featuring the work of twenty-five fiction writers and poets, this anthology is a captivating introduction to the finest of contemporary Appalachian literature. Here are short stories and poems by some of the region’s most dynamic and best-loved authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Ron Rash, Nikki Giovanni, Robert Morgan, Lisa Alther, and Lee Smith among others. In addition to compelling selections from each writer’s work, the book includes illuminating biographical sketches and bibliographies for each author.
These works encompass a variety of themes that, collectively, capture the essence of Appalachia: love of the land, family ties, and the struggle to blend progress with heritage. Readers will enjoy this book not just for the innate value of good literature but also for the insights it provides into this fascinating area. This book of fiction is an enlightening companion to non-fiction overviews of the region, including the Encyclopedia of Appalachia and A Handbook to Appalachia: An Introduction to the Region, both published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2006. In fact the five sections of this book are the same as those of the Encyclopedia.
Educators and students will find this book especially appropriate for courses in creative writing, Appalachian studies and Appalachian literature. Editor George Brosi’s foreword presents an historical overview of Appalachian Literature, while Kate Egerton and Morgan Cottrell’s afterword offers a helpful guide for studying Appalachian literature in a classroom setting.
George Brosi is the editor of Appalachian Heritage, a literary quarterly, and, along with his wife, Connie, runs a retail book business specializing in books from and about the Appalachian region. He has taught creative writing, Appalachian studies and Appalachian literature.
Kate Egerton is an associate professor of English at Berea College. She has taught Appalachian literature and published scholarship in that field as well as in modern drama.
Samantha Cole majored in Appalachian Studies and worked for Appalachian Heritage while a student at Berea College. Morgan Cottrell is a West Virginia native who took Kate Egerton's Appalachian literature class at Berea College.
In Archives of Labor Lori Merish establishes working-class women as significant actors within literary culture, dramatically redrawing the map of nineteenth-century US literary and cultural history. Delving into previously unexplored archives of working-class women's literature—from autobiographies, pamphlet novels, and theatrical melodrama to seduction tales and labor periodicals—Merish recovers working-class women's vital presence as writers and readers in the antebellum era. Her reading of texts by a diverse collection of factory workers, seamstresses, domestic workers, and prostitutes boldly challenges the purportedly masculine character of class dissent during this era. Whether addressing portrayals of white New England "factory girls," fictional accounts of African American domestic workers, or the first-person narratives of Mexican women working in the missions of Mexican California, Merish unsettles the traditional association of whiteness with the working class to document forms of cross-racial class identification and solidarity. In so doing, she restores the tradition of working women's class protest and dissent, shows how race and gender are central to class identity, and traces the ways working women understood themselves and were understood as workers and class subjects.
From the expeditions of de Soto in the sixteenth century to the celebrated work of such contemporary writers as Maya Angelou, Ellen Gilchrist, and Miller Williams, Arkansas has enjoyed a rich history of letters. These two volumes gather the best work from Arkansas's rich literary history celebrating the variety of its voices and the national treasure those voices have become.
From the expeditions of de Soto in the sixteenth century to the celebrated work of such contemporary writers as Maya Angelou, Ellen Gilchrist, and Miller Williams, Arkansas has enjoyed a rich history of letters. These two volumes gather the best work from Arkansas's rich literary history celebrating the variety of its voices and the national treasure those voices have become.
"We live in an Enquirer, reality television–addled world, a world in which most college students receive their news from the Daily Show and discourse via text message," assert Charles Blackstone and Jill Talbot. "Recently, two nonfiction writers have been criticized for falsifying memoirs. Oprah excoriated James Frey on her show; Nasdijj was impugned by Sherman Alexie in Time. Is our next trend in literature to lock down such boundaries among the literati? Or should we address the fictionalizing of nonfiction, the truth of fiction?"
The Art of Friction surveys the borderlands where fiction and nonfiction intersect, commingle, and challenge genre lines. It anthologizes nineteen creative works by contemporary, award-winning writers including Junot Díaz, Jonathan Safran Foer, Thomas Beller, Bernard Cooper, Wendy McClure, and Terry Tempest Williams, who also provide companion pieces in which they comment on their work. These selections, which place short stories and personal essays (and hybrids of the two) side by side, allow readers to examine the similarities and differences between the genres, as well as explore the trends in genre overlap.
Functioning as both a reader and a discussion of the craft of writing, The Art of Friction is a timely, essential book for all writers and readers who seek the truthfulness of lived experience through (non)fictions.
The memory of the American Civil War took many forms over the decades after the conflict ended: personal, social, religious, and political. It was also remembered and commemorated by poets and fiction writers who understood that the war had bequeathed both historical and symbolic meanings to American culture. Although the defeated Confederacy became best known for producing a literature of nostalgia and an ideological defensiveness intended to protect the South's own version of history, authors loyal to the Union also confronted the question of what the memory of the war signified, and how to shape the literary response to that individual and collective experience.
In Ashes of the Mind, Martin Griffin examines the work of five Northerners—three poets and two fiction writers—who over a period of four decades tried to understand and articulate the landscape of memory in postwar America, and in particular in that part of the nation that could, with most justification, claim the victory of its beliefs and values. The book begins with an examination of the rhetorical grandeur of James Russell Lowell's Harvard Commemoration Ode, ranges across Herman Melville's ironic war poetry, Henry James's novel of North-South reconciliation, The Bostonians, and Ambrose Bierce's short stories, and ends with the bitter meditation on race and nation presented by Paul Laurence Dunbar's elegy "Robert Gould Shaw." Together these texts reveal how a group of representative Northern writers were haunted in different ways by the memory of the
conflict and its fraught legacy.
Griffin traces a concern with individual and community loss, ambivalence toward victory, and a changing politics of commemoration in the writings of Lowell, Melville, James, Bierce, and Dunbar. What links these very different authors is a Northern memory of the war that became more complex and more compromised as the century went on, often replacing a sense of justification and achievement with a perception of irony and failed promise.
The Asian American Avant-Garde is the first book-length study thatconceptualizes a long-neglected canon of early Asian American literature and art. Audrey Wu Clark traces a genealogy of counter-universalism in short fiction, poetry, novels, and art produced by writers and artists of Asian descent who were responding to their contemporary period of Asian exclusion in the United States, between the years 1882 and 1945.
Believing in the promise of an inclusive America, these avant-gardists critiqued racism as well as institutionalized art. Clark examines racial outsiders including Isamu Noguchi, Dong Kingman and Yun Gee to show how they engaged with modernist ideas, particularly cubism. She draws comparisons between writers such as Sui Sin Far and Carlos Bulosan with modernist luminaries like Stein, Eliot, Pound, and Proust.
Acknowledging the anachronism of the term “Asian American” with respect to these avant-gardists, Clark attempts to reconstruct it. The Asian American Avant-Garde explores the ways in which these artists and writers responded to their racialization and the Orientalism that took place in modernist writing.
This anthology is the perfect introduction to Asian American studies, as it both defines the field across disciplines and illuminates the centrality of the experience of Americans of South Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Filipino ancestry to the study of American culture, history, politics, and society.
The reader is organized into two parts: "The Documented Past" and "Social Issues and Literature." Within these broad divisions, the subjects covered include Chinatown stories, nativist reactions, exclusionism, citizenship, immigration, community growth, Asia American ethnicities, racial discourse and the Civil Rights movement, transnationalism, gender, refugees, anti-Asian American violence, legal battles, class polarization, and many more.
Among the contributors are such noted scholars as Gary Okihiro, Michael Omi, Yen Le Espiritu, Lisa Lowe, and Ronald Takaki; writers such as Sui Sin Far, Bienvenido Santos, Sigrid Nunez, and R. Zamora Linmark, as well as younger, emerging scholars in the field.
Asian American Studies Now truly represents the enormous changes occurring in Asian American communities and the world, changes that require a reconsideration of how the interdisciplinary field of Asian American studies is defined and taught. This comprehensive anthology, arranged in four parts and featuring a stellar group of contributors, summarizes and defines the current shape of this rapidly changing field, addressing topics such as transnationalism, U.S. imperialism, multiracial identity, racism, immigration, citizenship, social justice, and pedagogy.
Jean Yu-wen Shen Wu and Thomas C. Chen have selected essays for the significance of their contribution to the field and their clarity, brevity, and accessibility to readers with little to no prior knowledge of Asian American studies. Featuring both reprints of seminal articles and groundbreaking texts, as well as bold new scholarship, Asian American Studies Now addresses the new circumstances, new communities, and new concerns that are reconstituting Asian America.
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.
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize for Best Manuscript in American Literature
A belief in progress is a fundamental ethos in American history and culture. The Assault on Progress probes American literary works that challenge the prevailing notion of technology as a manifestation of progress. J. Adam Johns argues that the idea of technology-as-destiny has long been explored—and undercut—in American literary works and that literature remains a crucial site for ongoing debates in this area.
Johns studies the phenomenon by which each generation comes to regard itself as the hinge upon which history turns. He explores several works by historians of technology, focusing in detail on the works of literary critic Lewis Mumford, whose examinations of Herman Melville’s novels provide an early example of critical interest in the abandonment of progress as a value.
He goes on to study the works of William Faulkner and Ralph Ellison, focusing on the convergence of technology and race—machines and slavery, and highlights the ways that these writers have portrayed humans as reduced to machines, evidence that technological “progress” is not always progressive, or liberating to humanity.
The conclusion argues for a shift in our understanding of the relationship between technology and time. According to Johns, writers like Melville, Faulkner, and Ellison help us to think of technology separate from notions of progress, and therefore help us to escape from a perilous ideological bind that forever situates humankind at the end of history.
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.
From every quarter we hear of a new global culture, postcolonial, hybrid, announcing the death of nationalism, the arrival of cosmopolitanism. But under the drumbeat attending this trend, Timothy Brennan detects another, altogether different sound. Polemical, passionate, certain to provoke, his book exposes the drama being played out under the guise of globalism. A bracing critique of the critical self-indulgence that calls itself cosmopolitanism, it also takes note of the many countervailing forces acting against globalism in its facile, homogenizing sense.
The developments Brennan traces occur in many places--editorial pages, policy journals, corporate training manuals, and, primarily, in the arts. His subject takes him from George Orwell to Julia Kristeva, from Subcommandante Marcos to Julio Cortázar, from Ernst Bloch to contemporary apologists for transnational capitalism and "liberation management," from "third world" writing to the Nobel Prize, with little of critical theory or cultural studies left untouched in between. Brennan gives extended treatment to two exemplary figures: the Trinidadian writer C. L. R. James, whose work suggests an alternative approach to cultural studies; and the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, whose appreciation of Cuban popular music cuts through the usual distinctions between mass and elite culture.
A critical call to arms, At Home in the World summons intellectuals and scholars to reinvigorate critical cultural studies. In stripping the false and heedless from the new cosmopolitanism, Brennan revitalizes the idea.
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.
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.