Mason & Dixon's examination of America's origins is informed by a dual temporal perspective: that of the late eighteenth century during which the modern nation-state was conceived and the late twentieth century in which a globalized economy and rise of huge conglomerates have led critics to proclaim the era of the nation-state as over. With New World slavery jettisoning all notions of American exceptionalism, colonial faction preventing national consolidation, and the very shape of the earth making the actuality of America impossible to determine with any fixity, establishing what is American becomes an act of representation. Pynchon portrays that act as less a function of politics, as the colonists demanded, and more a question of aesthetics, as the pictorial mapping in which his surveyors engage illustrates.
This essay focuses on conceptualizations of space in Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Almanac of the Dead. Specifically, it seeks to understand how constructions of geographic scale contribute to both the survival and overthrow of colonialist-capitalism. In its critique of colonialist-capitalist enterprise, the novel elucidates how scale operates as a mechanism for place-making, profit-making, and identity-making, processes linked to economic globalization and social reproduction. In addition, other stories manipulate and/or resist conceptions of scale. Through these stories, the novel re-envisions the idea of scale with a Native American conceptualization of space and narrative modeled on expansiveness rather than expansion.
This article explores the viability of the tropes of trauma and mourning in Samuel Beckett's Texts for Nothing. Beckett's work decomposes the initial premise of trauma and mourning: the idea of the subject within history. Texts for Nothing places the narrator in a timeless space, a space beyond history. Mourning presupposes a subject within history, a subject able to contain his or her trauma within a narrative, historical, frame. Because Texts for Nothing offers itself as a dismantling of narrative, these thirteen texts function as a critique of mourning and as a critique of the very idea of trauma.
City and town life -- New York (State) -- New York.
Focusing on James's account of New York in the 1850s from A Small Boy and Others, this essay argues that, despite his clear antipathy toward the "modern" New York he describes in The American Scene, his own memories of an "old" New York involve a much more varied and pleasurable response to the city itself. Indeed, James's nostalgia for the city of his childhood reflects a prior modernity marked everywhere by media (dioramas, panoramas, posters) and spectacle (melodramas, theatrical displays, the Barnum Museum)—a modernity whose "visibility," for James, has been "smothered" but not lost.
African Americans -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
Nationalism in literature.
Through a reading of his fictional account of the Harlem race riot of 1943 that serves as the closing scenes of Invisible Man, this essay delineates Ellison's racial philosophy, a rubric as much an expression of black nationalism as it is the formation of an ethical system for human interaction and accountability. It is a reading, though, that necessarily traces Ellison's racially gendered critique of the State and its domestic colonial practices, and the (unevenly) shared psychological consequences of American racial violence on the public sphere. And, in its end, this essay maps the connection Ellison makes between racial injury and the possibility of black patriotism.
Faulkner's Sanctuary compulsively revisits and refashions a centerpiece of Freudian thought, the primal scene, an image out of the unconscious mind for the origin of identity and the cultural order. As construed by Freud, the primal scene becomes a dramatization of his theory of male identity-formation in castration anxiety; that is, the primal scene poses the castration threat that causes the boy to turn away from his mother and subordinate himself to his father. Faulkner's inscriptions of the primal scene dismantle Freud's image of the invincible father and reveal that a model of identity-formation based in repression is its own undoing.
Borges, Jorge Luis, 1899- -- Criticism and interpretation.
Borges, Jorge Luis, 1899- -- Knowledge -- Islam.
Islam in literature.
This article simply examines the representation of the Islamic Orient in the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges, and suggests two things: 1) that Borges's different representations of Islam in his texts—Arab philosophers, Persian myths, Sufi motifs, quotations from the Koran—are best understood by a different set of Orientalist voices that Borges employs, from context to context, to best communicate his Oriental content and 2) that Borges's stories, understood in a chronological sequence, ultimately demonstrate an awareness of the artificial nature of his Orient—and a gradual disillusionment with the whole idea of representing Islam.
Handley, William R. Marriage, violence, and the nation in the American literary West.
Johnson, Michael K. (Michael Kyle), 1963- Black masculinity and the frontier myth in American literature.
American literature -- West (U.S.) -- History and criticism.
American literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism.
The books under review here study how certain Anglo-European and African-American writers in the twentieth century have appropriated and revised the narrative patterns and symbols associated with the dominant cultural imaginary of the American frontier and West. Instead of regeneration through violence, scenes of alienated domesticity and violence in western literary marriages from Wister through Didion, William Handley argues, represent "the degenerative sign of a failed project of national union and identity" (231). Michael Johnson shows how a range of African-American male and female writers interweave, adapt and revise both EuroAmerican (frontier narrative) and African-American (slave narrative) literary forms to explore themes of racial freedom and oppression and the construction of masculine identity. Both books exemplify the newer field imaginary of western American literary studies emerging during the past few years.
Brady, Mary Pat, 1961- Extinct lands, temporal geographies: Chicana literature and the urgency of space.
Kaup, Monika. Rewriting North American borders in Chicano and Chicana narrative.
American literature -- Mexican American authors -- History and criticism.
American prose literature -- Mexican American authors -- History and criticism.
This review essay of Mary Pat Brady's Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space, and Monika Kaup's Rewriting North American Borders in Chicano and Chicana Narrative places these recent publications within a context of works that focus on spatial politics in Chicano/a Studies. It pays particular attention to the authors' methodologies.