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Hemispheric American Studies

Edited by Caroline F. Levander and Robert S. Levine

Publication Year: 2008

This landmark collection brings together a range of exciting new comparative work in the burgeoning field of hemispheric studies. Scholars working in the fields of Latin American studies, Asian American studies, American studies, American literature, African Diaspora studies, and comparative literature address the urgent question of how scholars might reframe disciplinary boundaries within the broad area of what is generally called American studies. The essays take as their starting points such questions as: What happens to American literary, political, historical, and cultural studies if we recognize the interdependency of nation-state developments throughout all the Americas? What happens if we recognize the nation as historically evolving and contingent rather than already formed? Finally, what happens if the "fixed" borders of a nation are recognized not only as historically produced political constructs but also as component parts of a deeper, more multilayered series of national and indigenous histories? With essays that examine stamps, cartoons, novels, film, art, music, travel documents, and governmental publications, Hemispheric American Studies seeks to excavate the complex cultural history of texts and discourses across the ever-changing and stratified geopolitical and cultural fields that collectively comprise the American hemisphere. This collection promises to chart new directions in American literary and cultural studies.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

We are grateful for the assistance we have received from a number of individuals and institutions. Our thanks to the Andrew Mellon Foundation for funding a year-long graduate seminar on Hemispheric American Studies at Rice University. The members of the Mellon seminar—Elizabeth Fenton, Gale Kenny, Cory Ledoux, David Messmer, Molly Robey, and Benjamin Wise—provided ...

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Introduction: Essays Beyond the Nation

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pp. 1-17

In 1973 an editorial team at Yale University published American Literature: The Makers and the Making, the most influential American literary anthology of the decade.1 This two-volume work both exemplified the state of the field and set the direction of Americanist literary criticism for the next ten to fifteen ...

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Chapter 1. Hemispheric Jamestown

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pp. 18-35

Near the middle of the earliest known novel of the African American literary tradition, William Wells Brown’s 1853 Clotel, the narrator looks back across the centuries and juxtaposes two ships, the Mayflower and an unnamed vessel, both in mid-transatlantic route and approaching the eastern shores of the future United States. The Mayflower, bound for Plymouth Rock, projects “the ...

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Chapter 2. The Hemispheric Genealogies of “Race”: Creolization and the Cultural Geography of Colonial Difference across the Eighteenth-Century Americas

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pp. 36-56

In the wake of the postcolonial studies movement, early American literary scholarship across disciplinary boundaries has focused on the role that “race” played in European imperial expansionism and colonialism in the New World. Literary scholars and historians alike have generally proceeded from a historical notion of race as it emerged in the nineteenth century—as a transnational ...

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Chapter 3. “La Famosa Filadelfia”: The Hemispheric American City and Constitutional Debates

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pp. 57-74

Ten days after he arrived in “la famosa Filadelfia” in April 1824, José María Heredia penned a letter to an uncle in which he offered a descriptive map and architectural account of the city. “A thousand times you must have heard that it is one of the most uniform cities in the world, and it is true,” wrote Heredia, in exile after authorities in Cuba discovered his participation in a revolution-...

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Chapter 4. The Other Country: Mexico, the United States, and the Gothic History of Conquest

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pp. 75-95

In the introduction to Robert Montgomery Bird’s 1834 Calavar, or, The Knight of the Conquest, an American wandering through Mexico sits on Chapultepec hill and muses on Mexico’s pre-conquest history. The Toltecs first populated Mexico, the American imagines, and were “the most civilized of which Mexican hieroglyphics . . . have preserved in memory.” Other tribes followed, but ...

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Chapter 5. An American Mediterranean: Haiti, Cuba, and the American South

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pp. 96-115

Octavia Walton was a classic Southern “belle.” She was also widely regarded as “one of nature’s cosmopolites, a woman to whom the whole world was home.”1 The granddaughter of Virginian George Walton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Octavia had been raised in the polyglot surrounds of Pensacola, a frontier naval port in the Florida territory, and schooled in a half dozen languages...

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Chapter 6. Expropriating The Great South and Exporting “Local Color”: Global and Hemispheric Imaginaries of the First Reconstruction

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pp. 116-139

An exceptionalist narrative of U.S. cultural history poses both the process of Reconstruction following the Civil War, and the so-called local color writing in which it was registered, against the golden age of European empire in the late Victorian era. The denomination “local color” itself indicates—as clearly as does the name “Civil War”—that this most popular form of postbellum writing ...

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Chapter 7. The Mercurial Space of “Central” America: New Orleans, Honduras, and the Writing of the Banana Republic

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pp. 140-165

This equation of New Orleans with Honduras, placed as it is in the midst of more prominent U.S. sites undergoing “Latinization,” may have escaped notice at the moment when “The Last Migration” was first published in 1996. But in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the much-remarked transformation of traditional ethonoracial communities along the U.S. Gulf Coast with the influx of ...

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Chapter 8. “I’m the Everybody Who’s Nobody”: Genealogies of the New World Slave in Paul Robeson’s Performances of the 1930s

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pp. 166-186

In 1939, after traveling for a number of years throughout Europe and Africa, the African American actor and singer Paul Robeson returned home with his family to Harlem. Almost immediately he was asked to perform the song “Ballad for Americans” in a radio broadcast that aired later that year. In his biography of Robeson, Martin Duberman describes the broadcast as “an instant ...

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Chapter 9. The Promises and Perils of U.S. African American Hemispherism: Latin America in Martin Delany’s Blake and Gayl Jones’s Mosquito

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pp. 187-205

Both Martin Delany, in his advocacy of U.S. African American emigration to Latin America, and Gayl Jones, in her call for U.S. African Americans to be “international” and “not just provincial,” argue that engaging the world beyond the United States is crucial to their community’s struggle to be acknowledged as equal to European Americans.1 They are voices in long-standing debates ...

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Chapter 10. PEN and the Sword: U.S.–Latin American Cultural Diplomacy and the 1966 PEN Club Congress

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pp. 206-222

In June of 1966, the International PEN1 Club held its annual conference in New York City. This was the first time in forty-two years that the United States had hosted the meeting. Arthur Miller had just been elected president of the organization and the week-long congress, which drew more than 600 people from 56 countries, marked a moment of international prestige for PEN. Com-...

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Chapter 11. The Hemispheric Routes of “El Nuevo Arte Nuestro”: The Pan American Union, Cultural Policy, and the Cold War

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pp. 223-248

In 1948 the Organization of American States (OAS) became the supreme governmental body of the inter-American system, while the name of its predecessor organization, the Pan American Union (PAU), continued to refer to the Organization’s General Secretariat in Washington, D.C. Undergirded by two far-reaching hemispheric security treaties, the Organization envisioned a cultural ...

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Chapter 12. Mem

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pp. 249-265

In early summer of 2005, the Mexican government issued a series of four postage stamps commemorating the comic book anti hero, Memín Pinguín, a little Afro-Mexican boy created in the 1940s by Yolanda Vargas Dulché (see Figure 1). Memín quickly became the source of a diplomatic conflict, inciting raucous cross-border bickering about the comic’s alleged racism. The debate ...

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Chapter 13. “Out of This World”: Islamic Irruptions in the Literary Americas

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pp. 266-293

Wallace Stevens’s poem represents the enigmatic impact of the moon‘s light moving across the floor of his room as the ethnic necromancy of a mysterious Arabian. Stevens figures poetry itself as an unearthly source of light that illuminates most fully when the hemisphere is shrouded in the darkness of night. The errant orbit of the crescent, symbolic of Islam, provides an outlying ...

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Chapter 14. Of Hemispheres and Other Spheres: Navigating Karen Tei Yamashita’s Literary World

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pp. 294-312

Although Asian American literary studies has in recent decades taken the “transnational turn” that Shelley Fisher Fishkin has described of contemporary American studies generally,1 the particular rubric of “hemispheric studies” has not found as much traction in the field as, for example, “diasporic” or “Pacific Rim studies.” Aside from a smattering of works that attend to Canada in a ...

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Chapter 15. The Northern Borderlands and Latino Canadian Diaspora

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pp. 313-327

The title of Carmen Aguirre’s play ¿Que Pasa with La Raza, eh? (2000) entices us with a provocative fusion of linguistic and cultural referents.1 La raza, a synonym for la gente or el pueblo (the people), refers to the imagined community of Latin American people of diverse races and backgrounds. The juxtaposition of English and Spanish words implies an audience familiar with both ...

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Afterword: The Times of Hemispheric Studies

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pp. 328-336

In 1998, on the occasion of the centennial of the Spanish-American/CubanWar, there was a flurry of attention in U.S. studies to things hemispheric. This turned out to be just one of many moments of identity crisis for the field. The self-questioning extended from the objects of study to the very name of “American Studies.” From 1998, looking both backward and forward, first (roughly...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 337-340

Index

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pp. 341-356


E-ISBN-13: 9780813543871
E-ISBN-10: 0813543878
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813542225
Print-ISBN-10: 0813542227

Page Count: 366
Illustrations: 17 photographs
Publication Year: 2008

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Subject Headings

  • Migrations of nations.
  • America -- Intellectual life.
  • American literature -- History and criticism.
  • Latin American literature -- History and criticism.
  • Ethnic groups in literature.
  • America -- Civilization.
  • America -- Study and teaching (Higher).
  • Western Hemisphere -- Study and teaching (Higher).
  • United States -- Study and teaching (Higher).
  • America -- Race relations.
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