Immigration Literature and the Alien Nation

Joseph Conte

3:30 pm-4:30 pm, Ketchum Hall, Room 111

Buffalo State College

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services terminology for a legal immigrant who has yet to become “naturalized” as a citizen is “alien resident.” But these verbal vestiges of botanical transplants are rarely found in the literature of immigration. The fiction and memoirs of immigrants in America are more likely to register the strange shores on which they have arrived as an alien nation. Joseph Conte discusses changing encounters with naturalization in examples of three generations of immigrant writing by Anzia Yezierska, Vladimir Nabokov, and Gary Shteyngart.

Joseph Conte is Professor of English at the University at Buffalo. His book, Design & Debris: A Chaotics of Postmodern American Fiction, received the Elizabeth Agee Prize from the University of Alabama Press in 2002. He was a Senior Fellow at the New York Institute of Cognitive and Cultural Studies in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005. In 2009 he was a Visiting Professor of English at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China. His new book is on Transnational Politics and the Post-9/11 Novel.

Buffalo Humanities Festival Program