For the first time told in its entirety, the social and cultural experience of New York's Lower East Side comes vividly to life in this book as that of a huge and complex laboratory ever swelled and fed by migrant flows and ever animated by a high-voltage tension of daily research and resistance - the fascinating history of the historical immigrant quarter that, in Manhattan, stretches between East 14th Street, East River, the access to the Brooklyn Bridge, and Lafayette Street. Irish and Germans at first, then Chinese and Italians and East European Jews, and finally Puerto Ricans gave birth, in its streets and sweatshops, cafés and tenements, to a lively multi-ethnic and cross-cultural community, which was at the basis of several modern artistic expressions, from literature to cinema, from painting to theatre. The book, based upon a rich wealth of historical materials (settlement reports, autobiographies, novels, newspaper articles) and on first-hand experience, explores the many different aspects of this long history from the late 19th century years to nowadays: the way in which immigrants reacted to the new environment and entered a fruitful dialectics with America, the way in which they reorganized their lives and expectations and struggled to defend a collective identity against all disintegrating factors, the way in which they created and disseminated cultural products, the way in which they functioned as a gigantic magnet attracting several outside artists and intellectuals. The book thus has a long introduction detailing the present situation and mainly depicting the realities within the Chinese and Puerto Rican communities and the fight against gentrification, six chapters on the Lower East Side's past history (its social and cultural geography, the relationship among the several different communities, the labor situation, the literary output, the development of an ethnic theatre, the neighborhood's influences upon turn-of-the-century American culture in the fields of sociology, photography, art, literature and cinema), and a conclusion summing up past and present and discussing the main aspects of a Lower East Side aesthetics.
This chapter argues that comparative analyses of autobiographical works by ethnic writers typically fail to consider the extent to which minority autobiographies emphasize issues of authorship and artistry. Examination of the autobiographical writing of two early-twentieth-century writers—the Native American writer ZitkalaŠa and the Chinese American writer Sui Sin Far—suggests that both writers sought to present themselves in their autobiographical texts as legitimate American authors, and not only as complex ethnic subjects. Although their autobiographic essays do not conform to typical narratives of the acquisition of literacy, both writers emphasize early experiences of storytelling and childhood encounters with art in order to construct unique yet fully intelligible identities as ethnic American authors. Their shared preoccupation with issues of artistry thus points to a promising area for further investigation into inter-ethnic American life writing.
This essay deals with the multilayered trope of food in two autobiographical works published in 2005, Diana Abu-Jaber’s The Language of Baklava and Leslie Li’s Daughter of Heaven. Both works are considered “food memoirs” and, as the very term indicates, culinary rituals, commensality, recipes, and other food-related matters constitute the backbone of the narration. Abu-Jaber and Li use food as a vehicle for the exploration of memories of past events, as well as for the analysis of issues such as ethnicity, racism, identity and community. The fact that both works feature first and second generation members of ethnic groups in the United States—Arab Americans in the case of Abu-Jaber, and Chinese Americans in the case of Li— invites the “trans-ethnic” study of the two memoirs, which, surprisingly enough, present many stylistic and thematic similarities.
The doublings of memory and writing are shared themes and motifs in the autobiographical writings of two New Yorkers, Samuel R. Delany and Paul Auster, two writers whose writings are otherwise very distinct in style, reach and critical reception. The marginalized writer of consciously marginal “paraliterature,” as Delany calls his science-fiction and other genre experiments, contrasts with the increasingly acclaimed critical and popular favourite, Paul Auster. These distinctions, however, are precisely what allow their shared concerns in their memoirs to stand out, revealing two highly self-conscious writers who employ the autobiographical in ways that question the very discursive and genre conventions that enable the generic stereotyping their writings contest, implicitly or explicitly. In a context we could label as postmodern, their autobiographical writings constitute discursive doublings that explore the formal and thematic constraints of this particular textual mode, one that resists determinate generic classification. They both exploit the the dual temporal and thematic articulation that autobiography relies on—the oscillation between past and present, life and writing—in order to respect more fully the very notion of the autobiographical as experience in writing and writing as experience. The writing of memory and the memory which is writing here double each other in ways that are not always symmetrical and that foreground the skewed relationship that exists between the two. Seeking to authorize their own writing, to father their own discourse, they both resolve that impossibility, in a mode that can never catch up to its presumed objective, the coincidence of life and writing, by recognizing the role of the reader as metaphorically, the ‘son’ who fathers the ‘father’. The experience of autobiography ultimately exists for the reader, an experience of reading that calls upon its own memory, thus doubling in turn the double narrative which is autobiography itself.
Questioning what “makes” a celebrity and how celebrity is controlled, dispersed and received are aspects branching out of
(Extra)Ordinary’s debate over celebrities as ordinary/extraordinary. Jade Alexander and Katarzyna Bronk, together with the authors whose chapters make up this inter-disciplinary discussion, not only utilise the existing research on celebrity and fandom, but they also go beyond the often-quoted theorists to engage in multidirectional analyses of what it means to be a celebrity, and what influence they have on the consuming public. The present book provides an avenue for exploring not just what celebrity is as a discursive construction, but also how this involves a complex interplay between celebrities, the media and the audience.
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.
The subject of
Images of America in Scandinavia, the first comprehensive study of its kind, is as multifaceted, complex, and overwhelming as America or the United States, itself. It concerns the nature and function, reality and fiction of such images in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden past and present. The book is intended to be a source of solid information as well as a starting point for further inquiries into its cultural territory.
Part of its focus is on images of America rooted in printed sources, but, in addition, general surveys of other cultural signs of America in the Scandinavian countries present a broader picture and provide some of the background for the predominantly literary images. Issues such as government and politics, popular and vanguard music and art, and socio-cultural institutions intermittently come to the fore.
Framing the volume's three pairs of national surveys is an introductory chapter, which addresses the entire subject from a bird's-eye view, and a concluding chapter, which, by contrast, delves into the cross-fire of sentiments defining people whose images of America, are both American and Scandinavian. The discussion of America as perceived in Scandinavia sheds new light on intriguing inter-Scandinavian cultural distinctions and borderlines.
Countless books and articles, methods and theories, have been devoted to the study of national and cultural identity. Still, the exchanges between such identities and the images they engender - so indispensable for the participants in a global culture - remain clouded by many misconceptions.
Images of America in Scandinavia whose editors and authors all have Scandinavian backgrounds, will contribute an improved understanding of the cultural interplay between Scandinavia and the United States of America.
In postcolonial theory we have now reached a new stage in the succession of key concepts. After the celebrations of hybridity in the work of Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak, it is now the concept of diaspora that has sparked animated debates among postcolonial critics. This collection intervenes in the current discussion about the 'new' diaspora by placing the rise of diaspora within the politics of multiculturalism and its supercession by a politics of difference and cultural-rights theory. The essays present recent developments in Jewish negotiations of diasporic tradition and experience, discussing the reinterpretation of concepts of the 'old' diaspora in late twentieth- century British and American Jewish literature. The second part of the volume comprises theoretical and critical essays on the South Asian diaspora and on multicultural settings between Australia, Africa, the Caribbean and North America. The South Asian and Caribbean diasporas are compared to the Jewish prototype and contrasted with the Turkish diaspora in Germany. All essays deal with literary reflections on, and thematizations of, the diasporic predicament.