COMPARATIVE BLACK LITERATURE AND RACIAL ENCOUNTERS: TRAUMA, IDENTITY, AND THE LITERARY REIFICIATION OF RACE
Committee memberAsante, Molefi K
Stewart, James B
DepartmentAfrican American Studies
SubjectAfrican American studies
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/8556
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AbstractThe objective of this dissertation is to converge and apply Elijah P. Anderson’s concept of “Nigger Moment,” as delineated in his 2011 work, The Cosmopolitan Canopy, as a particular category of trauma, experienced exclusively by Africana men, women, and children, with William E. Cross’ theory of racial socialization called “Nigrescence,” to Comparative Black Literature (CBL). While experiences with racism in both individual and structural forms have played a fundamental role in analyses of Africana literature, a focus on the incidence of these “Moments,” as they contribute to the subject’s “Nigrescence” (the series of racial encounters both within and without the group that precipitate the subject’s exploration of their racial identity) through an intersectional lens applied to CBL, allows the analyst or critic to observe how the means by which the “Moment” is experienced, in what context it is experienced, and how the identity of the literary subject(s) manifest patterns of Africana identity formation within fiction and non-fiction narrative, and, ultimately, Africana individuals. Ultimately, I will explore the pedagogical implications of applying the “N-Moment” to Comparative Black Literature within a multi-cultural and multi-racial classroom in the interest of social cohesion and positive identity formation. This will be done by outlining the various dimensions of the N-Moment within classed, gendered, and migrant contexts, as they apply to Claude McKay’s Banana Bottom, Jessie Redmon Fauset’s There is Confusion, Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye, James Baldwin’s Another Country, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Americanah, and Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory.
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Late Modernist Schizophrenia: From Phenomenology to Cultural PathologyO'Hara, Daniel T., 1948-; Brivic, Sheldon, 1943-; Singer, Alan, 1948-; Caserio, Robert L., 1944- (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)My dissertation demonstrates how representations of schizophrenic characters in novels can combat widespread misuses of psychiatric terms and help readers empathize with mentally ill people if we read these novels with some understanding of psychiatry and the psychoanalysis that influenced them. I undertake a critical genealogy of the schizophrenia concept's migration from the mental health professions to fiction, concentrating on the period from the German invasion of Paris in June 1940 to the events of May 1968, with some attention to contemporary uses of the schizophrenia concept by cultural theorists. Experimental novelists writing during the apogee and aftermath of National Socialism from the 1940s to the 1970s represent schizophrenia as they understood it to express the painful emotions produced by World War II's challenge to the value of experimental writing. In the postwar fiction of Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) and Georges Perec (1936-1982), imitating schizophrenia results in careful disclosures of disintegrating life-worlds: in Beckett's case, the dissolution of the James Joyce circle and the communities of modernist exiles it exemplified, which the German invasion of Paris destroyed; in Perec's case, the deaths of his parents in the defense of France and the Holocaust, and the annihilated six million Jews including his mother. Reading Beckett and Perec's novels develops readers' abilities to empathize with both schizophrenic people and the loved ones of Holocaust victims. While those who avoided the concentration camps like Perec did not experience their horrors firsthand, losing relatives and other loved ones transformed their lives, just as losing two thirds of its Jewish population devastated European culture despite reticence to acknowledge the Holocaust's monstrous effects in the postwar years. Late modernist fiction can thus both help readers understand the Holocaust's cultural impact and foster the skills necessary to understand experiences of severe mental disorder. Such empathic understanding is more humane than romanticizing or stigmatizing schizophrenia or other mental illnesses, and it helps us register the Holocaust's degradation of humanity anew rather than walling off this event in the past or regarding it solely as a Jewish issue. Late modernist fiction provides a more precise, caring alternative to the romanticizing/stigmatizing binary perpetuated by postwar cultural theorists because, from the 1930s to the 1970s, the fiction gradually transitions from reinforcing that binary to enabling empathy for traumatized and mentally ill people. Such fiction anticipated recent phenomenologies of schizophrenia - real experiences of distress and impairment rather than socially constructed concepts of madness - and traumatic shame, an emotional experience of oneself or one's community as inadequate in response to failure, especially the Holocaust as a failure of European culture and modernity. Both traumatic shame and severe mental disorder can make the body conspicuous, alienate people from their cultures, and disintegrate structures of salience and belonging that make sustained relationships and projects possible. Recent existential-phenomenological theories of mental disorder enable reintegrating schizophrenia representation in fiction into the history of literary modernism, especially its concern with historical forces disrupting the minds of individuals. These theories explain changes in mentally ill people's sense of possibilities for developing themselves and relating to others, from the way they experience their bodies to the way they use language. Hence I use these theories to demonstrate how knowledge of schizophrenia enabled post-Holocaust novelists to travesty and transform earlier novelists' uses of fictional minds to interrogate cultural change.
Sovereignties Displaced: Avant-Garde Prose and Authoritarianism in Spain, Chile, and Argentina (1923-1936)Pereiro Otero, José Manuel; Pueyo Zoco, Víctor; Shellhorse, Adam Joseph; Poeta, Salvatore J. (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)Whereas contemporary debates in Latin American studies addressing sovereignty often focus on dictatorships and the transitions to democratic governments in Latin America in the late twentieth century, Sovereignties Displaced: Avant-Garde Prose and Authoritarianism in Spain, Chile, and Argentina (1923-1936) adopts a transatlantic framework and directs critical attention to the cultural production of the interwar period. The historical and cultural events preceding and following 1929 are connected to World War I, the political crisis of democratic systems, and the global socioeconomic instability of the period. The three countries studied in the present work would be affected by these conditions, sharing an almost synchronic development of the authoritarian governments of Miguel Primo de Rivera in Spain (1923-1930), of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo in Chile (1927-1931), and José Félix Uriburu in Argentina (1930-1932). Additionally, the rise of authoritarianism and the decay of parliamentary institutions characterizing this epoch condition and inscribe the political essays and avant-garde novels composed by the intellectuals and writers analyzed in this study: from Spain, María Zambrano (1904-1991), Ramón Gómez de la Serna (1888-1963), and Benjamín Jarnés (1888-1949); from Chile, Alberto Edwards Vives (1874-1932), Juan Emar (1893-1964), and Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948); and from Argentina, Ramón Doll (1896-1970), Norah Lange (1905-1972), and Roberto Arlt (1900-1942). It should be noted that while considering national circumstances, my argumentation is divided into sections organized not by country, but rather by subject matter: a methodological and theoretical introduction, three analytical chapters, and concluding remarks. Established critical assessments of the avant-gardes, as offered by experts like Renato Poggioli (1907-1963), have underscored that democratic forms of government would provide the initial conditions of possibility of the historical avant-gardes. Other scholars, however, have recognized the interdependency of early twentieth century artistic discourses, revolutionary ideas, and authoritarianism. Informed by the theorization of sovereignty and democracy of Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), and the concept of community of Roberto Esposito (1950-), my research examines, in political essays and vanguard novels, the opposition of individual vis-à-vis collective forms of rule. The texts of my corpus manifest a recurrent concern relating to the tension between self-rule and collective-rule, a dynamic which organizes and destabilizes avant-garde formations themselves. Consequently, I analyze the philosophical and political ramifications of these authors’ defense, negation, or destabilization of the individual-collective opposition in the context of the deterioration of parliamentarism. In my first chapter, I examine the following essays that represent a range of political positions from the interwar years: Horizonte del liberalismo (1930) by María Zambrano, Liberalismo en la literatura y la política (Con una segunda edición de: “Democracia mal menor”) (1934, n/d) by Ramón Doll, and La fronda aristocrática en Chile (1928) by Alberto Edwards Vives. Framed by the sociological assessments of José Ortega y Gasset in La rebelión de las masas (1930), this chapter considers these essayists’ observations regarding mass politics and the role of political and economic elites. I foreground the ethical problems relating to these authors’ conceptions of the human subject and their concomitant formulations of governance, deriving from various ideological orientations. The essayists’ comparable anxieties regarding the limits of democratic politics reveal the complexities of the period and serve as a springboard for the subsequent chapters that study the politics of avant-garde novels. In my second chapter, shifting from essayistic discourse to vanguard fiction, I analyze philosophical oppositions central to the configuration of sovereignty, and to the theory and practice of democracy. These tensions organize various components of the following novels: Un año (1935) by Juan Emar (pseudonym of Álvaro Yáñez Bianchi), 45 días y 30 marineros (1933) by Norah Lange, and El caballero del hongo gris (1928) by Ramón Gómez de la Serna. I demonstrate that, although these narratives do not contain explicit references to the emergence of authoritarianism and the erosion of parliamentarism of the period, these narratives are structured by problems that have implications for a thinking of issues relating to sovereignty and democracy. These novels similarly present how individuals interact with groups, such that it becomes imperative to consider the political consequences of these relations in order to critique, for example, fraternalistic and nationalistic notions of political filiation. My final chapter studies the narrative presentations of radical political projects that aim to restructure society in Los siete locos (1929) by Roberto Arlt, La próxima (1934) by Vicente Huidobro, and Lo rojo y lo azul (1932) by Benjamín Jarnés. In contrast to the narratives included in the second chapter, these avant-garde novels establish an explicit dialogue with the conditions of crisis of the interwar years. From insurrections and utopian settlements, to revolutionary military revolts, these narrations depict small vanguard groups that propose various plots that seek to radically reshape the social order. Even though poetry is often positioned as the paradigmatic form of vanguard literary expression, my research theorizes the understudied phenomenon of Hispanic avant-garde prose. In particular, I account for the variation among avant-garde novels of the period, by sustaining that there are gradations of vanguard narrative depending on different factors that range from the transparency or opacity of linguistic expression, to the organization of the narrative material. In this sense, some novels considered vanguardist, while approaching a certain radicality in terms of language and form, may incorporate elements of the realist-naturalist novelistic tradition. Likewise, I assert the importance of attending to the varied uses of meta-reflexive procedures in Hispanic vanguard prose. Given their implicit and explicit interaction with contemporary historical conditions and political and artistic discourses of the 1920s and 1930s, I contend that the essays and avant-garde novels analyzed offer a fertile ground to examine the nature of sovereignty, while also presenting, in some crucial instances, potential images of what a democracy worthy of this name could look like.
RE-ESTABLISHING MASCULINITIES IN EARLY TO MID-20TH CENTURY AMERICAN FICTIONOrvell, Miles; Lee, Sue-Im; Henry, Katherine, 1956- (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)How has the concept of masculinity been revised and adapted by different writers over the course of the early to mid-20th century? How and why did the authors respond to the question of masculinity differently? To answer these questions, this dissertation navigates the contested nature of masculinity in works spanning the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. I juxtapose two to three writers and their selected works in each chapter divided by the authors’ race and ethnicity: William Dean Howells’ The Rise of Silas Lapham and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Richard Wright by focusing on Up from Slavery, The Souls of Black Folk, and Native Son respectively; Mike Gold’s Jews without Money and Nathanael West’s A Cool Million: The Dismantling of Lemuel; Younghill Kang’s East Goes West: and Carlos Bulosan’s America is in the Heart. The writers I examine present masculinities that deviate from hegemonic masculinity, challenge and/or reinforce the definition and parameters of hegemonic masculinity, and develop models of masculinity that meet the needs of their specific historical moments. I argue that juxtaposing different modalities of masculinity construction and exploring the multifaceted treatment of American masculinity afford a more comprehensive perspective about the avenues through which masculinity is made manifest. My examination of multiple masculinities reveals the processes of establishing, maintaining, and contesting hegemonic masculinity. Moreover, tracking historical changes in masculinities uncovers how a set of essentialized traits, though changing, have transformed into and manifested as a privileged form of masculinity.