The Poetics and Politics of Hospitality in U.S. Literature and Culture explores hospitality in a range of cultural expressions from a variety of approaches. The authors analyze and discuss forms of hospitality in canonical literature, ethnic literatures, language or movies. These span from the classical to the contemporary and include a focus on language, power, hybridism, and sociology. The common theme in these contributions is that of American identity. By looking at a diversity of representations of American culture, using a multiplicity of approaches, the authors convey the richness of American hospitality as a vital aspect of its culture.
This collection emphasizes a cross-disciplinary approach to the relevance of borders and bordering as a spatial paradigm in Anglophone studies. It sets out to provide a critical counter-narrative to the 1990s globalization argument of a “borderless” world by insisting on the significant roles borders play. The essays range in subject matter from geography, history, British and American literature to painting and Reggae music and map out different conceptualisations of the border: place, line, process, contact zones, etc. The volume’s cross-border “narrative” serves as a point of communication between the local and the global, between Europe and America, between different literary and artistic genres, thus challenging the divides of geography and literature, between “real” territorial borders and their “fictional” counterparts.
This chapter deals with the page layout of several early modern printed poetic collections to show how political, social and cultural issues are embedded in the very spatial arrangement of the book. Three examples will be analysed in detail: Vellutello’s very influential 1525 commented edition of Petrarch’s vernacular poetry, a central publication in the history of European Petrarchism; the 1557 English poetic collection commonly known as Tottel’s Miscellany, which established the tradition of the printed lyric collection in England; and Samuel Daniel’s 1592Delia, which to a large extent ushered in the sonnet sequence as an editorial genre in England. We wish to demonstrate that the editorial shape of the English sonnet sequence was invented through a careful management of space based on European and English precedents.
Something of the occluded condition of our being in the world is disclosed by way of the tortuous movement of the late Jamesian syntax. The latter, it is argued here, speaks or writes to us of our current borders predicament. The Jamesian interrogation of limits, distinctions, boundaries – of bewilderment, wilderness and the domestication of the wild – suggests that the question of borders is to be addressed by way of the words of Truffaut’s film La femme d’à côté (1981): “ni avec toi, ni sans toi”. The intention is therefore to tune into the unquiet resonance of the Jamesian text in order to suggest an experience of limits and an experience by limits, which might provide options which are neither regressive (back into the fold, back behind the border or the wall) nor candidly optimistic in the declaration of the withering away of borders, limits, distinction.
For over 150 years, the Canada/US border was known as the “longest undefended border in the world”, the symbol of the peaceful relationship that the two North-American neighbors had developed from the second half of the 19th century onward. This essay aims at analyzing the way in which Canada and the United States went about reinventing border security in the wake of 9/11 in order to reach two goals that were considered as mutually non-exclusive: security and trade. Analysis will focus on the different measures that were implemented, including the two actual agreements and explain the extent to which they represent a fundamental change. It will also be interesting to see how this new bordering process has re-defined North American territory and altered the geography of both countries by inserting a security logic that had been unknown to the region up to now.
The bordering of the Calcutta Botanic Garden was representative of how the Garden mirrored the imperial project. Poles, hedges, and walls were grown and built to prevent incursions. The administration enforced strict rules to attract the right kind of visitors and exclude undesirable ones, many “durwans” (guards) were hired, and special laws were created to confer police prerogatives on them. The river that bordered the Garden on the South constantly encroached upon the land, and the banks had to be reinforced monsoon after monsoon. Whatever the efforts made to maintain the illusion that the Garden was an enclave, none of these borders, be they built or natural, could be made impermeable. This enduring failure typical of the garden’s history is emblematic of a fictional imperial order that kept denying the existence of the “local”, while seeking to enforce supposedly “universal” values and principles among which were scientific concepts and market rules.
This essay explores the work of the Korean-American writer, filmmaker, and performance artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951–1982) whose written work, dictee (1982) and Exilée/Temps Mort (2009, posth.), presents a resounding example of border poetics, borders being eminently present, but less in the narrative(s), than in its form and in the way it treats language and languages. Not written in, but between French and English and with traces of Korean, Chinese and Latin, Cha’s interlinguistic polysemy, grammatical errors, and distorted syntax, place readers in the position of the exiled, the foreigner, the immigrant-emigrant, and force them to consider new ways of reading focused on empathy and on orality that challenge the duality of the sign (signifier-signified). Cha’s border poetics refuse to grant us the privilege of residing in any one space, but rather lead us toward border thinking, a perpetual consideration of the other side, as well as of the interstitial.
In Continental Drift Russell Banks exposes the causes and consequences of migration by focusing on a white American from New Hampshire called Bob Dubois and a black Haitian woman named Vanise Dorsinville. By comparing the fates of these two opposed characters, Banks studies the porosity of the borders separating the Western world and the Third world. In addition, he offers a form of realism which celebrates the margins by challenging spatial, discursive and generic limits. If the aesthetic representation of border-crossing in the novel is associated with a renewal of realism, it goes beyond traditional conventions and boundaries thanks to the introduction of fantastic, epic and tragic elements. In this work, Banks reasserts the composite nature of contemporary American realism and expresses the idea that the great American novel should celebrate a borderless literature capable of encapsulating the whole of contemporary America while pushing back generic boundaries.