European journal of American studies
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Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 1991-9336
Published by Revues.org [400 journals]
- Making Progress: Ellison, Rinehart, and the Critic
Authors: Cheryl Alison
Abstract: Since Ralph Ellison’s death, the draft materials of his second, unfinished novel have become available, in addition to his notes for Invisible Man (1952). This article encourages literary interpreters to exercise restraint in retroactively imposing narrative order and coherence upon the author’s incomplete work and working materials. Taking as an example the character Rinehart, who appears in varying forms throughout Ellison’s career, this article traces and interrogates the character’s treatment in the work of exemplary Ellison critic Adam Bradley to demonstrate that the urge to create a linear interpretive model diminishes not just the character but also Ellison’s considerable nuance. Focused character interpretation ultimately makes the larger case that coming to Ellison’s archive, as well as his published works, requires flexibility adequate to the author’s own mobile habits of thought and composition.
- Migratory Subjectivity in E. Jane Gay’s Choup-nit-ki, With the Nez
Authors: Wendy Harding
Abstract: Due to its unusual publishing history, E. Jane Gay’s Choup-nit-ki: With the Nez Percés has not received the critical attention it deserves. Through the book’s photographs and text, Gay stages a migratory, polyvocal narrator who rejects the unitary identity that establishes both the writer’s and the colonizer’s authority. This article studies textual features such as shifting focalization, the splitting of the writing subject into multiple personae, and the humor extracted from social contradictions to show how Gay’s book both cites and challenges nineteenth century conventions governing genre and gender. Contemporary theory (Deleuze and Guattari, Braidotti, Butler) provides concepts that can aid our appreciation of the text’s originality. Gay’s self-presentation cracks the restrictive nineteenth century mold of femininity and liberates the subject, even as, ironically, the author collaborates in the project of imposing on the Nez Perce the constraints legislated through the Dawes Ac...
- Young Adult Pop Fiction: Empathy and the Twilight Series
Authors: Alicia Otano Unzue
Abstract: This analysis of the Twilight series focuses on the role of empathy as a communicative, cross-cultural tool by which the author transmits a message that features human commitment as the key to happiness. It also raises the issue of reader emotional neediness and authorial use of empathy in popular fiction to fuel consumption of the series in order to continue “feeling with” familiar and cherished characters. The readers that have made Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series an international best-seller in the young adult/adolescent pop fiction market reflect the crucial role popular literature plays in their emotional experience. The message behind this pop fiction phenomenon is as ancient as its legendary vampire and shape-shifter characters yet its massive book sales warrant analysis of the author’s role in manipulating reader affect to successfully transmit her vision of attaining happiness. The study undertaken here on the role of empathy in the Twilight series attempts to contextuali...
- Unterzakhn, Dirty Laundry, and the Map of Lost New York: An Interview with
Authors: Jaime Cleland
Abstract: This interview with cartoonist Leela Corman took place shortly after the publication of her graphic novel Unterzakhn. In the interview, she describes what it means to her to be a Jewish American cartoonist – where her book fits into that tradition, how she approached the task of drawing Jewish noses, and how she incorporated Yiddish into the book. Beyond the personal and family experiences that she drew on for Unterzakhn, she conducted detailed research about life on the Lower East Side, and the interview includes a look at that process, how it helped her, and where it failed her. Finally, she discusses her desire to tell a story about women’s lives from a female perspective, as well as the ways her characters’ lives are circumscribed by gender roles.
- “In the interests of all of us…”: Theodore Roosevelt and the Launch
of Immigration Restriction as an Executive Concern
Authors: Hans Krabbendam
Abstract: Theodore Roosevelt enjoys a positive reputation as an innovative and progressive politician. He was the first president in office to explicitly link immigration with the changing welfare system in the United States. Sensing that a system run by the state would replace the private system of welfare and that immigrants were both a key building block and a threat to a strong nation, Roosevelt put the immigration issue high on his political agenda. He wrestled this authority from the hands of Congress and kept the balance between immigration policy and foreign policy while skillfully working public opinion to enable selection at the gate. In keeping a balance between state power and public opinion, between assets and liabilities, between opportunities and threats, he set the basic course of debate and policy for decades to come. Roosevelt can be held responsible for setting in motion a selection process that included racial stereotypes, but he also deserves his reputation as beacon of h...
- U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1990s and 2000s, and the Case of the South
Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia)
Authors: Julien Zarifian
Abstract: The foreign policy of the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations in the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) shows U.S. foreign policy under a rather positive light. With consistency and continuity, they were able to implement a multidimensional realistic foreign policy, the main manifestations of which allowed the U.S. to gain, in a few years, solid political, economic, military, and diplomatic leverages. Its vital interests were not at stake in the region and, from the early 1990s onwards, it has been in the position of a potent “challenger” that worked on consolidating its position in order to be influential and powerful when and if necessary. Although it did not become the sole dominant regional power, the U.S. succeeded, mostly in the second half of the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s, in strongly geopolitically penetrating a region with which it previously had no contact and on which it had no major expertise.
- Nature in Arab American Literature Majaj, Nye, and Kahf
Authors: Ismet Bujupaj
Abstract: Much critical engagement with works of Arab American literature focuses on cultural identity and political issues, without treating nature in those works. The writings of Lisa Suhair Majaj, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Mohja Kahf, provide rich opportunities to start examining Arab American writings through an ecocritical lens which examines the human relationship to nature, place, and the physical environment. Often, in these works, place is doubled, with the present-day physical environment as well as the place remembered from a past, from which the speaker is separated by trauma or displacement. Nature frequently serves to connect these two places; at other times it serves as a source of spiritual energy that can help the speaker to transcend the rift. The complex treatments of nature and place in these works offer a fluid process that is neither fully separate from cultural politics nor completely defined by it.
- Stateless within the States: American Homeland Security after 9/11 and
Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend
Authors: Eunju Hwang
Abstract: This essay attempts to place I Am Legend (2007) in the context of American nationalism and aggressive enforcement of the immigration laws after 9/11. The apocalyptic world of I Am Legend reflects the post-9/11 American society that is driven by the urge to make America “one nation” and haunted by the fear of people who might harm the “unity.” The film tries to draw a clear boundary between “us” and “them” by completely othering the infected, but in the context of American homeland security after 9/11, it becomes a complex issue to decide where to draw the line. The shifty boundary between “us” and “them” reflects the post-9/11 American dilemma: the United States has to close its border while maintaining its identity as a nation of immigrants. This essay also discusses how geographical markers, instead of racial markers, are utilized to symbolize the infected as the stateless people within the United States.
- Hybridism and Self-Reconstruction in Joyce Carol Oates’s A
Authors: Pascale Antolin
Abstract: This article analyzes Joyce Carol Oates’s hybridism in her 2011 memoir, A Widow’s Story, as a powerful means of self-assertion and self-reconstruction. It suggests that to write about her painful experience of bereavement Oates resorts to hybridism—generic, narrative and typographic in particular—as it is both a characteristic of her fiction and a means of dramatizing her experience. This hybridism helps her not only express her emotional “derangement” but also recover her identity as a writer. Thus her narrative manifests confusion and continuity, chaos and control, inconsolability and consolation at one and the same time.
- Vanishing Point: Joan Didion and the Horizons of Historical Knowledge
Authors: Kenneth Millard
Abstract: This critical study situates Joan Didion’s memoir Where I Was From in the context of debates about the textuality of history in contemporary culture. In particular the essay is a critical examination of Didion’s interest in the concept of origins. What are the politics of historical origins, how might “true origins” be known, and how might a different understanding of such origins facilitate a feminist appraisal of Western American history? The essay argues that Didion’s book is an innovative contribution to the genre of the memoir, and to the social history of California and the American West.