“Exceptional Zombie Cannibals” – Antonia Bird’s ‘Ravenous’ (1999) and the discourse of American exceptionalism

In the last couple of decades, a conflict has emerged between the perception of exceptionalist rhetoric as a historical symbol of American patriotism and the much more harrowing visions pervading the present-day political stage. For a historian of the antebellum era, such as myself, “American exceptionalism” is synonymic with a post-War of Independence period when America rapidly transformed from a remote and largely unexplored land mass into a force to be reckoned with in the world arena (as noted by non-American observers at the time such as Alex De Tocqueville). 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

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

“Coward, take my coward’s hand”: Mudbound (2017) and the legacy of Hollywood’s anti-racist returning veteran films

On a dusty, unpaved main street veteran Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) leaves the local general store serving the outpost Mississippi Delta community near his brother’s farm. Suddenly, he drops to the ground. The noise of a car backfiring has returned him to his recent combat experience as a bomber pilot. As local men eye him suspiciously, help is offered in the form of the outstretched hand of Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell). The offer draws reproach from the onlookers for its disruption of local customs and hierarchy. It is 1946 and, while Jamie is white, Ronsel is black. Continue reading

Veiled Interpretations of Du Bois’s ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ (1903)

Du Bois’s work The Souls of Black Folk (1903) attempts to capture the quintessential twentieth century problem “of the color-line” (713), that is the problem of racial belonging and identification. In these terms, Du Bois cautiously steps within the “Veil” of his racial segregation, a capitalized term he coins to help readers visualize the obscure barrier that separates the two worlds, and attempts to decipher the subliminal fluctuations of a blackness vastly treated as a flaw. This is the exact point which Du Bois delves into in order to staple together multiple thematic concerns. Continue reading

Penetrating the “Pink Wasteland”: Gender and Environmentalism in Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975)

More than forty years after its first publication, Edward Abbey’s 1975 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (MWG) remains a major environmentalist text. The story, in which four ecoterrorist activists use sabotage techniques to protect their beloved Western landscape from industrial and commercial interference, has inspired real life movements such as Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front. However, the environmentalist project the novel describes is not as radical as it may appear at first sight. This article argues that MWG’s message of ecoterrorism depends on the (re)construction of a rigid gender boundary which turns the American West into a feminine entity that can only be saved through masculine interference. Continue reading

Overcoming Postmodernism

David Foster Wallace and a new Writing of Honesty

The end of postmodernism? Jesús Bolaño Quintero explores David Foster Wallace’s writing, searching for a new form of honesty in American literature after the age of irony. Continue reading

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance

100 Years of Writing against Complicity

How can writing escape complicity? As the 21st century version of nationalist authoritarian politics has internalised the postmodern recognition that language constructs reality, and warped it for its own purposes in Donald Trump’s ‘tweet-politics,’ a literature-focused backlash is developing. Katharina Donn discusses modernist and contemporary practices of hybrid women’s writing, and explores their politics of form. Continue reading

Emily Dickinson and the Nineteenth-Century Women Poets: The Poetics and Politics of Reticence

When discussing nineteenth-century American women poets, the term ‘reticence’ has been used, almost exclusively, by critics since the 1980s, to refer to poetic strategies that resulted from ‘psychic conflict and anxiety’[1]: women’s literary articulation was suppressed by the patriarchal system, and society demanded reticence in writing by women (e.g. elimination of anger, sexual feelings, and ambition in their work). Continue reading