Storify of our #bookhour twitter chat on AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

During this 90 minute chat we discussed the representation of “good” and “bad” blackness in the novel, and how this resonates with Adichie’s refusal of the Afropolitan label and Ifem’s “blackless” Nigeria. We debated what the novel loses in prioritising the love story at the close of the narrative, and some of the weaker aspects of the writing, such as Adichie’s representation of success, contemporary media and blogging as a form of social commentary. Finally we ended the discussion with reflections on Americanah’s effortlessly successful heroine, Ifem – how much does femininity help Ifem in America? How do we make sense of her success in relation to Obinze who more fittingly reflects the Afropolitan theme of being “hungry for choice and certainty”? Is the title a critique on her development and her story? Continue reading

Conference Review: ‘Supposedly Fun Things: A Colloquium on the Writing of David Foster Wallace’

‘Supposedly Fun Things: A Colloquium on the Writing of David Foster Wallace’ Held at Birkbeck, University of London 7 February 2015   A building as twistingly complex as some of Wallace’s sentences provided the venue for Birkbeck, University of London’s ‘Supposedly Fun Things: A Colloquium on the Writing of David … Continue reading

Gae Pride Parades: The Impossibility of Queerness in Irish America at the St Patrick’s Day Parades

2015 marks twenty-five years since the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization’s (ILGO) first application to march in New York City’s St Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue. Still the world’s largest celebration of the day, it was rejected by the event’s organizers, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), a Catholic … Continue reading

Book Review: Rethinking the 1950s: How Anticommunism and the Cold War Made America Liberal by Jennifer A. Delton

Because Dwight Eisenhower was the only Republican President between 1933 and 1969, it is naturally tempting to argue that his eight-year tenure in the White House (1953-1961) was a more conservative period compared to his Democratic predecessors and successors. Continue reading

Conference Review: ‘The War on the Human: Human as Right, Human as Limit and the Task of the Humanities’

The conference touched upon a variety of topics and disciplines, bridging ancient Greek philosophy with deconstruction, experimental poetics with pedagogy, medicine with narratology, textuality with anthropology, the law and institutional policies with literary studies, ethics and politics with metaphysics. Continue reading

Merging aesthetics and politics: Toni Morrison’s jazz affect in JAZZ (1992)

Morrison produces an aestheticism that is driven by her own political impulse, which means that her political impulse – to protest against American history – is felt rather than known. As a result the untold stories of black America become real. Because Morrison writes American history through feeling, sense, and blurred images, not through definitive, clear information and files of data, to the reader her history of America becomes more than a history, it acts like a memory. Continue reading

Film Review: In P.T. Anderson’s Inherent Vice Pynchon’s “Badass” prevails

Pynchon mentions, and praises, the “Badass” in one of his few essays: “when times are hard, and we feel at the mercy of forces many times more powerful, don’t we, in seeking some equalizer, turn, if only in imagination, in wish, to the Badass… who will resist what otherwise would overwhelm us?” Ultimately breaking noir convention, Inherent Vice does turn, if only in part, to the Badass detective. Bigfoot’s diligent respect for his deceased police partner’s memory, which further distances him from any thug-cop stereotype, leads him to have a very personal stake in Doc’s case and he ends up working more or less alongside the stoned PI. Continue reading

Deconstructing ‘Uncle Tom’ Abroad: The Case of an American President

The character of Uncle Tom experiences the benevolent paternalism and cruel exploitation of chattel slavery, and eventually dies at the hands of a malicious master. What does it mean for a twenty-first century presidential candidate, who became the 44th President of the United States, to be described in such terms? The rhetorical implications of this epithet demonstrate how media and popular culture shape ideas about history, race, and politics, even beyond the United States. Continue reading

Book Review: The American President in Film and Television: Myth, Politics and Representation by Greg Frame

Greg Frame’s work, The American President in Film and Television: Myth, Politics and Representation, is a tour-de-force of analytical investigation into the iconographical development and narrative frameworks of the fictionalised presidential genre. Continue reading