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Returning to Babel

Jewish Latin American Experiences, Representations, and Identity

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Edited by Amalia Ran and Jean Cahan

This volume offers a re-examination of some of the prevalent paradigms in Latin American Jewish Studies and an instigation to further explorations in this area. It sets out from an interdisciplinary standpoint, comprising literature, culture, history, cinematography, music and visual arts. This collection of articles seeks a wider range of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives concerning Latin American Jewish experiences, and thereby offers a framework for innovative as well as traditional modes of analysis. It elaborates on themes of Jewish identity as represented in the history, cultures and societies of Latin America in the current era of hybridism and transnationalism.

Red October

Left-Indigenous Struggles in Modern Bolivia

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Jeffery R. Webber

Bolivia witnessed a left-indigenous insurrectionary cycle between 2000 and 2005 that overthrew two neoliberal presidents and laid the foundation for Evo Morales’ successful bid to become the country’s first indigenous head of state in 2006. Building on the theoretical traditions of revolutionary Marxism and indigenous liberation, this book provides an analytical framework for understanding the fine-grained sociological and political nuances of twenty-first century Bolivian class-struggle, state-repression, and indigenous resistance, as well the deeply historical roots of today’s oppositional traditions. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, including more than 80 in-depth interviews with social-movement and trade-union activists, Red October is a ground-breaking intervention in the study of contemporary Bolivia and the wider Latin American turn to the left over the last decade.

Addressing Modernity

Social Systems Theory and U.S. Cultures

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Edited by Hannes Bergthaller and Carsten Schinko

Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social systems is one of the most ambitious attempts to create a coherent account of global modernity. Primarily interested in the fundamental structures of modern society, however, Luhmann himself paid relatively little attention to regional variations. The aim of this book is to seek out modernity in one particular location: The United States of America. Gathering essays from a group of cultural and literary scholars, sociologists, and philosophers, Addressing Modernity reassesses the claims of American exceptionalism by setting them in the context of Luhmann’s conception of modernity, and explores how social systems theory can generate new perspectives on what has often been described as the first thoroughly modern nation. As a study of American society and culture from a Luhmannian vantage point, the book is of interest to scholars from both American Studies and social systems theory in general.

In Paris or Paname

Hemingway’s Expatriate Nationalism

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Jeffrey Herlihy

Alongside a liberating treatment of the English language, Ernest Hemingway realized some often overlooked innovations in multicultural subject matter. In six of the seven novels published during his lifetime, the protagonist is abroad, bilingual, and bicultural—and these archetypes have significant implications for each character’s sense of identity. In Paris or Paname interprets Hemingway’s overdetermined use of foreignness as a literary device, characterizing how cultural displacement informs plot dynamics. The investigation historicizes the archetypal protagonist’s process of (re)orientation through attention to his intercultural adoptions in language, alcohol consumption, sports, and betrothal rites. Herlihy situates his argument within an apposite research framework from psychological studies on migration, anthropological examinations of cultural ceremony, and literary theory on the poetics of displacement. The analysis offers groundbreaking insights on the distribution of previously overlooked structural patterns (themes, motifs, and symbols) that are present throughout Hemingway’s novelistic corpus, and provides a compelling perspective on the aesthetics of the expatriate/immigrant writing process.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Images of Eastern European Jewish Migration to America in Contemporary American Children’s Literature

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Jana Pohl

How is the life-altering event of migration narrated for children, especially if it was caused by Anti-Semitism and poverty? What of the country of origin is remembered and what is forgotten, and what of the target country when the migration is imagined there a century later? Looking Forward, Looking Back examines today’s representation of Jewish mass migration from Eastern Europe to America around the turn of the last century. It explores the collective story that emerges when American authors look back at this exodus from an Eastern European home to a new one to be established in America. Focusing on children’s literature, it investigates a wide range of texts including young adult literature as well as picture books and hence sheds light on the dynamics of the verbal and the visual in generating images of the self and other, the familiar and the strange.
This book is of interest to scholars in the field of imagology, children’s literature, cultural studies, American studies, Slavic studies, and Jewish studies.

Shift Linguals

Cut-Up Narratives from William S. Burroughs to the Present

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Edward S. Robinson

Shift Linguals traces a history of the cut-up method, the experimental writing practice discovered by Brion Gysin and made famous by Beat author William S. Burroughs. From the groundbreaking works of Dada and Surrealism that paved the way for Burroughs’ breakthrough, through the countercultural explosion of the 1960s, Shift Linguals explores the evolution of the cut-ups within the theoretical frameworks of postmodernism and the avant-garde to arrive at the present and the digital age.
Some 50 years on from the first ‘discovery’ of the cut-ups in 1959, it is only now that we are truly able to observe the method’s impact, not only on literature, but on music and culture in a broader sense. The result of over nine years of research, this study represents the first sustained and detailed analysis of the cut-ups as a narrative form. With explorations of the works of Burroughs, Gysin, Kathy Acker, and John Giorno, it also contains the first critical writing on the works of Claude Pélieu and Carl Weissner in English, as well as the first in-depth discussion of the writing of Stewart Home to date.

"So There It Is"

An Exploration of Cultural Hybridity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry

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Brigitte Wallinger-Schorn

In interpreting contemporary Asian American poetry, it is important to understand the cultural hybridity of Asian America identity, located at the interstices of the fixed identifications ‘American’, ‘Asian American’, and ‘Asian’. This rootedness in more than one culture exposes the inapplicability of binary concepts (foreigner/national, etc.). Hybridity, opposing essentialism and ‘the original’, favors multivocality and ambivalence. The exploration of Asian American cultural hybridity is linked both to material realities and poetic manifestations.
Asian American hybrid subjectivity is explored through in-depth interpretations of works from well-established contemporary poets such as Kimiko Hahn, Marilyn Chin, Li-Young Lee, and Arthur Sze, as well as that of many new talents and hitherto neglected writers.
This study examines how language and power interrelate, with translation and linguistic fusion being two approaches adopted by hybrid authors in their creation of alternative discourse. Culturally hybrid subjectivity is independent of and at the same time interconnected with more than one culture, thus enabling innovative political and identitarian positions to be articulated. Also examined are such traditional poetic forms as the zuihitsu, the sonnet, and the ghazal, which continue to be used, though in modernized and often subversive guise. The formal liminal space is revealed as a source of newness and invention deconstructing eurocentric hierarchy and national myth in American society and expanding or undercutting binary constructs of racial, national, and ethnic identities.
A further question pursued is whether there are particular aesthetic modes and concepts that unite contemporary Asian American poetry when the allegiances of the practitioners are so disparate (ultimate geocultural provenience, poetic schools, regions in the USA, generations, sexual orientation, etc.). Wide-ranging interviews with Kimiko Hahn and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on identity and roots, language and power, feminism, and the American poetry scene provide illuminating personal yet representative answers to this and other questions.

Towering Figures

Reading the 9/11 Archive

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Sven Cvek

This volume offers a critical analysis of a segment of American literary production surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. While focusing on the writing of Jonathan Safran Foer, Art Spiegelman, Don DeLillo, and Thomas Pynchon, the author locates this work within a larger 9/11 cultural archive. The book proceeds by way of a series of thematic leaps in order to unearth the active entanglement of the event with systems of meaning and power that create the conditions for its emergence and understanding. The main problem of such an approach consists in articulating the three-fold relation at the heart of the archive in which issues of traumatic loss, affect, and politics appear as central: between the historical event, its cultural imprint, and the wider social system. In order to grasp these fundamental relations, the author resorts to a layered interpretive framework and engages a number of theoretical protocols, from psychoanalysis and nationalism studies to philosophy of history, world-system theory, and the heterogeneous critical practices of American Studies. Coming from a non-US Americanist perspective, this contribution to the scholarly production about 9/11 concentrates on trauma as a problem in the conceptualization the event, insists on globalization as its crucial context, and argues for a historical materialist approach to the 9/11 archive.

Writing the Heavenly Frontier

Metaphor, Geography, and Flight Autobiography in America 1927-1954

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Denice Turner

Writing the Heavenly Frontier celebrates the early voices of the air as it examines the sky as a metaphorical and political landscape. While flight histories usually focus on the physical dangers of early aviation, this book introduces the figurative liabilities of ascension. Early pilot-writers not only grappled with an unwieldy machine; they also grappled with poetics that were extremely selective. Tropes that cast Charles Lindbergh as the transcendent hero of the new millennium were the same ones that kept women, black Americans, and indigenous peoples imaginatively tethered to the ground. The most popular flight autobiographies in the United States posited a hero who rose from the mundane to the miraculous; and yet the most startling autobiographies point out the social factors that limited or forbade vertical movement—both literally and figuratively. A survey of pilot writing, the book will appeal to flight enthusiasts and people interested in American autobiography and culture. But it will also appeal strongly to readers interested in the poetics and politics of place.

Against the Grain

Reading Pynchon’s Counternarratives

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Edited by Sascha Pöhlmann

Against the Grain: Reading Pynchon’s Counternarratives is the first book that critically addresses Thomas Pynchon’s novel Against the Day, published in 2006. The nineteen essays collected in this volume employ a large variety of approaches to this massive novel and also take it as an opportunity to reevaluate Pynchon’s earlier works, analyzing Against the Day in relation to V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, Vineland, Mason & Dixon, and Pynchon’s short stories and essays. The authors—younger as well as established scholars from eleven countries—address these works with regard to issues of modernism and postmodernism, politics, popular culture, concepts of space and time, visuality, sexuality, identity, media and communication, philosophy, religion, American and global (literary) history, physics, mathematics, economics, and many more. Their insights are as profound as they are diverse, and all provide fresh views on Pynchon’s fiction that will be useful, fascinating and entertaining for researchers and fans alike.