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Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies

Winfried Fluck

Publication Year: 2011

This volume is the outcome of a transatlantic conversation on the topic "Transnational America," in which more than sixty scholars from universities in the United States and Germany gathered to assess the historical significance of and examine the academic prospects for the "transnational turn" in American studies.

This development has brought about the most significant re-imagining of the field since its inception. The "transnational" has subsumed competing spatial and temporal orientations to the subject and has dismantled the foundational tenets and premises informing the methodology, periodization, pedagogy, and geographical locations of U.S. American studies, but transnational American studies scholars have not yet provided a coherent portrait of their field. This volume constitutes an effort to produce this needed portrait. The editors have gathered work from a host of senior and up-and-coming Americanists to compile a field-defining project that will influence both scholars and students of American studies for many years to come.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-viii

In 2005, American studies scholars at the Free University of Berlin, Potsdam University, and the Humboldt University met to draft a proposal for a grant that would support collaborative research on transnational American...

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Introduction: Re-mapping the Transnational Turn

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pp. 1-46

The "transnational turn" in American studies has effected the most significant reimagining of the field of American studies since its inception. It has been either the explicit topic or the subtext of the last seven presidential addresses at the American Studies Association, the basis for innumerable conferences, and the term responsible for the founding of several new journals...

Part I. A Politics of Transnational Melancholia

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1. Diasporic Doubles: Philip Roth's Operation Shylock

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pp. 49-71

Roth's signature as a writer is a blending of the realist novel with artistic self-portraiture, which defines reality as a stage for a playful mise-en-scéne of the author's personal preoccupations and obsessions. The identity of Roth's characters is typically based on the legacy of the Jewish immigrant milieu into which they are born, and with whose coercive demands they are...

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2. "Death Is So Permanent. Drive Carefully.": European Ruins and American Studies circa 1948

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pp. 72-96

Calls for a transnational approach or the "worlding" of American studies have become commonplace, even obligatory. It is a point of professional consensus that students of U.S.-American culture and history should move beyond the nation as the primary unit of analysis.1 While this new consensus may signal a paradigm shift, it also obscures the fact that internationalism, and...

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3. Landscapes of Trauma: The Transnational Dislocation of Vietnam's War Trauma in Alfredo Vea's Gods Go Begging

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pp. 97-118

Midway through Alfredo Vea's novel, Gods Go Begging (1999), Jesse Pasodoble recalls one of his early Vietnam War experiences: sitting within sight of a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) encampment, he notices North Vietnamese soldiers eating something resembling "green rocks." Jesse asks one of the ethnic Montagnard soldiers fighting alongside the Americans what the...

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4. The Racial State and the Transatlantic Famine Irish

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pp. 119-137

At her confirmation hearings for the post of U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton invoked the term "smart power" to describe likely foreign policy under an Obama administration. Reporting on the hearings, The Times of London explained the term thus: "a combination of 'hard' power...

Part II. Re-Disciplinizing Transnational American Studies

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5. Men in Boats and Flaming Skies: American Painting and National Self-Recognition

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pp. 141-163

The academic institutionalization of the study of American art and the formation of a national canon cannot be attributed simply to American exceptionalism. An important contribution was made by German émigré scholars who went to the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s and looked for a distinctive American tradition in order to justify a disciplinary focus on American...

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6. Portraying Transnational America: Aesthetic and Political Dimensions in Winold Reiss's "Plea for Color"

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pp. 164-192

The portraits of Winold Reiss (1886-1953) offer a fascinating perspective on questions of transcultural confrontations, processes of cultural translation, and dissent in the name of democracy. However, Reiss's rich oeuvre of ethnic portrait paintings has been relegated to the footnotes of American art history.1 His outspoken dedication to the humanist ideal of equality raises...

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7. Liberty: A Transnational Icon

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pp. 193-218

Standing at the railing of the transatlantic steamer on a warm summer afternoon in 1871, the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi scanned the horizon for the mainland. Weariness from weeks of travel at sea could not dampen the thrill of his imminent arrival in New York City, where he would pursue his dream. In his suitcase he carried a fifty-centimeter...

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8. Belonging and Transnational American Studies: Reflections on a Critical Approach and a Reading of Richard Powers's The Echo Maker

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pp. 219-242

Time and again, modernization has generated states of uprootedness, alienation, and uncertainty, most recently in the wake of globalization and the rise of what is often called "second" or "liquid" modernity.1 As a social reality, globalization not only describes transnational flows of capital and labor, it also reconstitutes the horizons of collective expectations and...

Part III. Transnational Pedagogies

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9. American Studies as Mobility Studies: Some Terms and Constellations

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pp. 245-264

Mobility is perhaps the prototypical experience of our time. In the current "post-national constellation" characterized by an accelerating "'disenclavement' of society, culture, and the economy" (Habermas, 47, 48), mobility has become an aggregate of complex individual and collective, real and imagined processes. Such processes involve the deregulated mobility of goods...

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10. Resistance without Borders: Shifting Cultural Politics in Chicana/o Narratives

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pp. 265-279

When reading Guillermo Gómez-Peña's performance reports and transcripts collected in his 1996 book, The New World Border, one notices a small black-and-white image of the Western Hemisphere printed in the corner of each even-numbered page. This map without borders slightly changes its appearance from one page to the next, and when the thumb is placed...

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11. Transnational Configurations in New Media: Identity Performance and Community on the Social Web

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pp. 280-294

Let me begin my discussion by visiting a text that is clearly related to the so-called old rather than new media: the printed book. In his short story "The Fun They Had," published in 1951, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov anticipates developments and distinctive features of a communication technology that emerges about thirty-five years...

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12. Protocols from the Playing Field: (Digital) Stories of Commitment and Intervention

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pp. 295-318

I open with epigraphs from outside American studies to position my argument at the intersection of two related trajectories: first, a shift in higher education from providing instruction to facilitating student learning, and second, the growing importance of digital media for projects of cultural critique. At the crossroads of these developmental lines, I am especially...

Part IV. Transnational Governmentalities

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13. Areas of Concern: Area Studies and the New American Studies

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pp. 321-336

American studies has thus far avoided the heated debates concerning the restructuring of area studies that have been prompted by dramatic changes in the geopolitical and economic maps as a consequence of globalization. In view of the U.S. role in the economic, political, and cultural changes produced by globalization, we might expect that American studies would be as...

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14. Andean Gateways: Transnational Healing and Spiritual Tourism in the Sacred Valley, Peru

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pp. 337-355

There's a slide of North American, Cusco-based healer Diane Dunn that I have sometimes shown to groups over the last few months. Dunn is standing between four sacred apus, or mountain spirits, on her property, and is dressed in the ceremonial clothes of Andean indigenous groups. The photograph is not much different from those posted on her website, advertising...

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15. Utopias of Transnationalism and the Neoliberal State

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pp. 356-373

In 2008, David Gutiérrez and Pierette Hondagneu-Sotelo collected fourteen articles for a special issue of American Quarterly on the topic "Nation and Migration." In many ways, this issue is representative of the debate on transnationalism as it now dominates U.S.-based American studies. The special issue is subdivided into four sections: "Citizenship and State...

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16. Feminism, Capitalism, and the Cunning of History

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pp. 374-390

I would like to use this chapter to take a broad, sweeping look at second- wave feminism. Not at this or that current of feminist activism, nor at this or that strand of feminist theorizing. Not at this or that geographical slice of the movement, nor at this or that sociological stratum of women. I want, rather, to try to see second-wave feminism whole, as an epochal social...

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17. Toward a Politics of American Transcultural Studies: Discourses of Diaspora and Cosmopolitanism

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pp. 391-425

American studies in the United States since the 1970s and the 1980s have been characterized by a sequence of redefinitions of "culture" and of "politics" in cultural studies. The presidential addresses read at the conventions of the American Studies Association (ASA) testify to the evolving logic of this critical engagement of the profession, from Alice Kessler-Harris, Mary...

Contributors

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pp. 427-

Index

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pp. 429-460


E-ISBN-13: 9781611681918
E-ISBN-10: 161168191X

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies