- Editors’ Note
Although the spring issue of Pacific Coast Philology does not have a theme and is open to all topics in languages and literatures represented in the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, the journal has again assembled six essays that happen to share common lines of inquiry: all of the contributions explore textual representations of marginalized, racialized, orientalized, or dehumanized Others. Several of the articles expose the failure of entrenched Western subjectivity to recognize fellow human beings and animals as worthy of living dignified lives and dying dignified deaths, while other essays concentrate on interrogating the creation of essentialist identity constructions.
Natalia Andrievskikh situates the figure of the Dog-Woman in an interstice, from where the Dog-Woman threatens but also participates in established norms and traditions. Carmen Sanjuán-Pastor discusses the identity of a border-woman who inhabits a space that bridges the “inside”—belonging to—and the “outside”—being estranged from—communal life. Mikayo Sakuma identifies a discursive landscape in Melville’s writings where inhabitants of a common life world, whether they are animals or humans, coexist in mutual dependency. Susan C. Anderson charts new representations of the third space, where metaphors and concepts of bridging are no longer applicable. Both Kevin R. Swafford and Catherine Irwin investigate narratives of war that interrogate the Manichaen divisions attributed to the warring parties [End Page 1] and in which the reporting voice recognizes its own, inescapable complicity. Whereas Swafford investigates the genre of war reporting at the turn of the nineteenth century, Irwin analyzes the poems written by soldiers serving in the post-9/11 conflict in Iraq.
In her essay “The Taste of Fairy Tale: Consumption as Theme and Textual Strategy in Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson,” Natalia Andrievskikh agrees that current feminist readings, critical of the novel, are well grounded in textual evidence, particularly, since Sexing the Cherry destabilizes established conventions of gender signification. She argues, however, that Winterson problematizes the notion of a strong heroine by relying on both character representation and narrative strategies. Employing consumption as manifestation of power, the Dog-Woman is a tragic as well as comic character. She threatens the prevailing power paradigm while also trying to exist within it. Focusing on consumption, Sexing the Cherry undermines the mainstream patriarchal tradition of gender signification while exploring orality as marginalized sexual experience.
In “‘Am I Catalan, Mom?’ Figuring a ‘Common Public Culture’ from the Borderland in Najat El Hachmi’s Jo també sóc catalana,” Carmen Sanjuán-Pastor traces Najat El Hachmi’s apprehension of being in a state of deracination and her reflections on the discursive and material conditions required to be both Catalan and Amazigh. Sanjuán argues that El Hachmi has constructed the identity of a border woman that can be read through the discourse developed by the women of color movement in the 1980s and 1990s. She further suggests that El Hachmi’s notion of a Catalan-Amazigh identity counters essentialist definitions of Catalan-ness (catalanitat) that are narrowly based on linguistic or cultural assimilation into a dominant Catalan identity. By representing her practicing Catholic neighbors as positive models of multicultural conversation, El Hachmi succeeds in providing a multidimensional perspective on the society she experiences.
In her article “Water under the Bridge: Unsettling the Concept of Bridging Cultures in Yoko Tawada’s Writing,” Susan C. Anderson carefully delineates the critical cultural concept of the third space, which has moved away from such metaphors as bridging or blending. It is increasingly seen as a site of unpredictable creativity that highlights the non-static character of cultural and intercultural phenomena. Anderson proceeds to examine the types of dynamic third spaces found in Tawada’s imaginative explorations of foreignness and her memorable—sometimes humorous and at other times unsettling—critiques of conventional and Eurocentric cultural constructs in the everyday lives of her protagonists, and in particular in Tawada’s story “In Front of Trang Tien Bridge,” which is set in Vietnam. Focalized through its main character, Kazuko, the story interlaces Japanese, heterogeneously Vietnamese, German, global [End Page 2] consumerist, touristic, postwar, and postcolonial perspectives to interrogate the very idea of...