“Right to Try” (Again): A history of the experimental therapy movement

In recent weeks and months, momentum has increased on Capitol Hill to craft “right to try” laws that would profoundly change the medical landscape. The national legislation will allow terminally ill patients more access to experimental therapies (drugs, biologics, devices) that have completed Phase 1 testing. Powerful pharmaceutical and biotech concerns have been largely quiet. The Trump administration, for its part, has underlined the issue, not only in the State of the Union Address but in VP Mike Pence’s active support. Continue reading

“Cracking Eggs” in Diana Abu-Jaber’s ‘Life Without a Recipe’ (2016)

I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing Series

This is the third and last post in the series ‘I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing’ guest-written by Hasnul Djohar. This short series explores American-Muslim women’s writing in the 21st Century, focusing on the negotiation of identities within the works of a specific author in each … Continue reading

Folktales in Randa Jarrar’s ‘A Map of Home’ (2008)

I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing Series

Randa Jarrar’s ‘A Map of Home’ (2008) narrates the coming-of-age story of a Muslim woman of Egyptian and Palestinian descent […] [and] can be compared to Kingston’s ‘The Woman Warrior’ (2000) which uses Chinese folktales; and Jarrar also alludes to Palestinian folktales. The protagonist, Nidali, describes this folktale through the way her grandma, Sitto, tells her the story, which is about “two sisters, one poor and one rich” […] “The poor one goes to the rich one’s house and the rich one’s stuffing cabbage leaves” (101). The poor one is creative and willing to help others until she becomes rich because her own fart is happy after she lets it go from her stomach and it presents her with gold, while her sister at the end is dying because her own fart gives her scorpions after forcing it to go out from her comfortable stomach. Continue reading

Women’s Emancipation in Mohja Kahf’s ‘Emails from Scheherazad’ (2003)

I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing Series

Mohja Kahf the poet, novelist and scholar, was born in 1960 in Damascus, Syria and moved with her family to America’s Midwest in 1971. She is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the writer of two poetry collections […] Kahf’s collection of poetry, ‘Emails from Scheherazad’ (EFS) explores the struggle of Muslim women to reclaim their own identity and reverse American myths and stereotypes of the Muslim world, especially Muslim women. In doing so, Kahf alludes to Muslim Women’s forebears, such as Asiya, Mary, Balqis, Khadija, Fatima, and Scheherazad. Scheherazad, the Queen and the story teller in ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, is a hero for Muslim women as she successfully revered the King’s physical violence into magnificent stories, which made the King wiser in understanding humanity. Continue reading

I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing

Introducing the Series

By exploring the heroic stories of American-Muslim women, who also represent other marginal groups, we gain a better understanding of how these groups have not only suffered from white mythologies from the periods of European colonialisms and American imperialism, but also have struggled to seek social justice and equality. And with the better understanding of these women’s struggles, this short series aims to contribute to discussions concerning American-Muslim literature, which explores both melancholic and convivial stories of marginal groups in order to reveal what it means to be American citizens of Muslim descent. Continue reading

Edward S. Morse: A look at Meiji Japan

Using primary sources from ‘Meiji Japan' - an Adam Matthew collection

From 1633 until 1853, the military governments of Japan enforced a policy of sakoku or ‘closed country’ which prevented foreigners from entering Japan on penalty of death, and prohibited Japanese citizens from leaving. This isolationist period was brought to an abrupt end in July 1853 when American Commodore Matthew Perry steamed four warships into Tokyo bay and threatened to open fire unless the Japanese agreed to enter into trade negotiations. Continue reading

The Southern Student Organizing Committee and the White New Left

The New Left, traditionally defined, involved white students from middle-class backgrounds in northeastern and West Coast hotbeds protesting societal constructs in the 1960s. Most accounts detail foundational connections between white New Leftists and earlier civil rights protest, such as Freedom Summer and the University of California – Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement in 1964, when project participants came back to campus in the fall after grassroots organising in Mississippi. Considering the largely overlooked white southern radicals complicates this bi-coastal narrative. The emergence of the southern New Left is especially apparent in the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), often viewed as the Students for a Democratic Society’s (SDS) southern counterpart. Continue reading

Meet the Curator: ‘Labour’s Special Relationship’

Ties between Britain and the United States have long been conceptualised along the lines of a ‘special relationship’.  The public exhibition ‘Labour’s Special Relationship’ seeks to explore transatlantic ties between trade unionists and organised labour in Britain and the United States, often obscured by conventional myth-making about Anglo-American unity.  With the exhibition underway, USSO interviews Dr Steven Parfitt, who curated the exhibition in collaboration with the Trades Union Congress Library. Continue reading

On Breaking Dissertations, or How I Read Sideways

If a project claims to re-consider the American avant-garde and its racism, what impact does this have on academic practice as such? Mariya Nikolova argues that a critique of avant-garde movements is impossible without Black and Gender theorizations. Hence the need for a re-consideration of avant-garde’s underlying protocols. Form and formality are invariably linked to epistemological violence, to the way knowledge inhabits and inhibits understanding. Experimentation often entailed elitism, but dissidence experiments, too. This double grammar resuscitates avant-gardism and requires a careful attention. The white avant-garde claimed the former through the latter, and the fact that it did raises the question of form. When does form collapse? Is there a way to make this visible?Does a methodology exist that attends to practices of unreading and whether a White scholar could ever impede their own safety? How would self-sabotage appear in such an endeavour?
Continue reading

The Transnational as Civil Obedience

by guest author Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera

The turn toward transnational inquiry appeared revolutionary in the 1990s. But the pluralization of critical models into multi- or cross-national questions has forged only diminutive challenges to extant power structures. Indeed, the transnational is obedient to some of the principal myths of this age: that people believe in or identify with national material. Rather than transcending the slippery folklores of national idolatry and its cultures, the transnational reengages them in ways that do not intend to annul their relevance. In this way, the myth that “American” stories, narratives, and feelings inform people’s lives and cultures in a hybrid or direct way is a (if not the) fundamental presumption in the transnational turn, and it is also a fundamental weakness. Continue reading