American Houses: Literary Spaces of Resistance and Desire


Already in 1854, Henry David Thoreau had declared in Walden that “Most men appear never to have considered what a house is” (225). Like Thoreau, many other renowned American writers have considered what houses are and, particularly, what houses do, and they have created fictional dwellings that function not only as settings, but as actual central characters in their works. The volume is specifically concerned with the structure, the organization, and the objects inside houses, and argues that the space defined by rooms and their contents influences the consciousness, the imaginations, and the experiences of the humans who inhabit them.

Winner of the Spanish Association for American Studies’ Javier Coy Award 2022 for best edited volume.

Contributors are: Cristina Alsina Rísquez, Rodrigo Andrés, Vicent Cucarella-Ramon, Arturo Corujo, Mar Gallego, Ian Green, Michael Jonik, Wyn Kelley, Cynthia Lytle, Carme Manuel, Paula Martín-Salván, Elena Ortells, Eva Puyuelo-Ureña, Dolores Resano, and Cynthia Stretch.

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Rodrigo Andrés, Universitat de Barcelona, is Assistant Professor of American literature and specializes in the Nineteenth Century. He is the author of Herman Melville: poder y amor entre hombres, and has published a number of journal articles and book chapters on the work of Herman Melville.
Cristina Alsina Rísquez, Universitat de Barcelona, is Assistant Professor of American Literature. She has published extensively on twentieth-century U.S. literature, and co-edited the volume Innocence and Loss: Representations of War and National Identity in the United States.
Reading American Houses: Literary Spaces of Resistance and Desire constitutes a thorough academic experience. Rodrigo Andrés and Cristina Alsina Rísquez have managed to compile a wide array of perspectives on the influence, significance and application of the American house as a literary trope. The editors’ efforts have resulted in a well-wrought, innovative scholarly narrative, which caters for new considerations of the concepts of home, house, or dwelling, and their implications for both collective and individual identities. […] In short, American Houses: Literary Spaces of Resistance and Desire is highly recommendable for its intellectual rigour, its insightful contributions and its innovative approach to the analysis of the American house.
– Richard Jorge, Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, in: Nexus 2 (2023): pp. 91-94.
Notes on Contributors

1 American Houses, American Literature
Rodrigo Andrés

PART 1: Houses: Queer Affiliations and Temporalities

2 The House as Alternative to Familial Space and Time in Herman Melville’s “I and My Chimney”
Rodrigo Andrés
3 Paths Well-Trodden and “Desire Lines” in Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House
Cristina Alsina Rísquez
4 Queering the American Family Home: The Aesthetics of Place and the Ethos of Domesticity in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Elena Ortells

PART 2: The Legacy of the House Divided

5 Cape Coast Castle in the Sky: Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the Im/possibility of the American Dream
Cynthia Lytle
6 The Haunted Plantation: Ghosts, Graves, and Transformation as Resistance in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman
Ian Green
7 A House is a House is a House: Toni Morrison’s Politics of Domesticity, Redemption and Healing in Beloved and Home
Mar Gallego
8 The Politics of Affect with/in the African American Mansion in Stephanie Powell Watts’s No One Is Coming to Save Us
Vicent Cucarella-Ramon
9 “A Lot More Deadly”: Gender and the Black Spatial Imaginary in U.S. Prison Writings
Eva Puyuelo Ureña

PART 3: Troubled Boundaries of the Domestic Space

10 Thoreau’s Unhoused
Michael Jonik
11 Too Tight for Comfort: Shipboard Distance as the Prerequisite for Personal Intimacy in Herman Melville’s White-Jacket
Arturo Corujo
12 “Maybe There’s Nobody to Shoot”: The Disappearing Landlord in 20th-Century U.S. Fiction
Cynthia Stretch
13 Woody Guthrie’s House of Earth: A Manifesto in Adobe as a Response to Houselessness and Domicide in Post-Depression Years
Carme Manuel
14 The Arrivant in Toni Morrison’s Paradise: Deviation, Iteration, Intersection
Paula Martín-Salván
15 “A house at odds with itself”: Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered
Dolores Resano
16 Afterword: In a Fictional House
Wyn Kelley

This volume targets specialists and students of American literature, as well as scholars interested in gender, queer studies, phenomenology, materiality, affect, and the application of domestic studies to literary analysis.
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