Fiction Studies

MFS Modern Fiction Studies
Volume 49, Number 1, Spring 2003
Special Issue: Fictions of the Trans-American Imaginary
Guest Editor: Paula Moya and Ramón Saldívar



    Hames-Garcia, Michael Roy.
  • Which America Is Ours?: Martí's "Truth" and the Foundations of "American Literature"
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    Subject Headings:
    • Martí, José, 1853-1895. Verdad sobre los Estados Unidos.
    • American literature -- History and criticism.
    • American literature -- Study and teaching.
      This article explores the question of how to rethink both the substance and methodology of teaching US literature, with an eye toward college-level survey courses. To reimagine this field, it draws from the critical vision of nineteenth-century commentator José Martí. The article argues for a reflexive understanding of the contradictions in US society and the ideologies informing the categorization of literature as "American." It concludes with an examination of how foregrounding specifically political and ideological concerns within texts can contribute to an understanding of aesthetic value, rather than detracting from it.
    Gruesz, Kirsten Silva, 1964-
  • Utopía Latina: The Ordinary Seaman in Extraordinary Times
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    Subject Headings:
    • Goldman, Francisco. Ordinary seaman.
    • American literature -- Hispanic American authors -- History and criticism.
      As a discipline, Latino Studies bases its claim to significance on the imminent transformation of Latinos into the "majority minority" in the United States: a claim that is proleptic in nature, yet untheorized as such. This essay seeks to contribute to a philosophy of Latino history by exploring the phenomenon of "anticipatory consciousness," as described by Bloch and Benjamin, in Francisco Goldman's 1997 novel The Ordinary Seaman, pointing out its links to works by Melville and José Martí.
    Saldívar, José David.
  • In Search of the "Mexican Elvis": Border Matters, "Americanity," and Post-state-centric Thinking
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    Subject Headings:
    • El Vez -- Criticism and interpretation.
    • Rechy, John. Miraculous day of Amalia Gómez.
    • Hispanic Americans -- Music -- History and criticism.
      How can we map the Americas in our age of globalization as a cohesive but complexly differentiated space? How can literary and cultural studies become less state-centric? John Rechy's The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gómez and the songs of the Mexican Elvis, El Vez, provide insight into these issues. The diverse cultural discourses signified upon in these works reflect the embeddedness of the subaltern subject in a variety of cultural discourses and material practices produced by the flows of global capital. They think beyond the state and thus suggest the need to re-imagine the borders of trans-American cultural studies.
    Gillman, Susan Kay.
  • The Epistemology of Slave Conspiracy
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    Subject Headings:
    • Villaverde, Cirilo, 1812-1894. Cecilia Valdés; o, La loma del ángel.
    • Delany, Martin Robison, 1812-1885. Blake; or, The huts of America.
    • Slavery in literature.
    • Slave insurrections.
      This essay envisions an American literary history that would allow for a comparative study of race, slavery, and nation. Comparing two 19th century novels, one Cuban and one US, that draw on a 1844 Cuban slave uprising, Gillman examines the political and cultural work slave revolts do in different national contexts. The essay also discusses the reception of Helen Hunt Jackson and Harriet Beecher Stowe by the Latin American intellectuals José Martí and Roberto Fernández Retamar, a revisioning that transforms these novelist from examples of an undervalued literature of women's sentimental reform to central texts of Our American literature.
    Bramen, Carrie Tirado, 1964-
  • Speaking in Typeface: Characterizing Stereotypes in Gayl Jones's Mosquito
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    Subject Headings:
    • Jones, Gayl. Mosquito.
    • Jones, Gayl -- Characters.
    • Characters and characteristics in literature.
    • Stereotype (Psychology) in literature.
      At what point do identity tropes turn into their negative counterpart--stereotypes? How much identity is too much? These are the questions at the heart of Gayl Jones's most recent novel Mosquito, which explores the line between racial characterization and racial stereotyping, specifically in terms of African-American configurations of latinidad. Jones blurs the boundaries between orality and literacy, stereotypes and (round) characters by producing a novel that is a form of textual verbalization, where literate habits of reading are challenged through oral modalities of (flat) characterization and storytelling.
    Eaton, Mark A.
  • Dis(re)membered Bodies: Cormac McCarthy's Border Fiction
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    Subject Headings:
    • McCarthy, Cormac, 1933- Blood meridian, or, The evening redness in the West.
    • McCarthy, Cormac, 1933- All the pretty horses.
    • Mexican-American Border Region -- In literature.
      Cormac McCarthy's novels are usually seen as belonging to one of two longstanding regionalist literary traditions, Southern Gothic or the Western. This essay considers McCarthy's border fiction instead as part of an emergent borderlands discourse that is at once bilingual, multicultural, and revisionist. Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses represent key moments in the history of the Southwest region in which they are set; both novels in effect remember the dis(re)membered bodies lost in the violent struggle over territory. McCarthy's border fiction challenges provincial models of US literary history and ought to be reconsidered within postnationalist American studies.

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