Friday, April 13 10:00-11:30 am
7.6 Global Literature in the Age of Trump (Roundtable)
This roundtable endeavors to assess the influence of Donald Trump’s 2016 election on literature in the US and around the world.
Transversal Cosmopolitanism and the Post-9/11 Global Novel
I read the post-9/11 global novel as an expression of transversal politics, as narratives that expose the différendwhich resists translation into a single global idiom; and I identify those characters who are cosmopolites, global citizens, who instigate a shared deterritorialization or double capture, or who may be types of an ethnocentric nationalism advanced by the 2016 Presidential election that is in the process of transversal transformation. I examine two novels that traverse in bi-social fashion the fractious relationship between Islam and the west. Amy Waldman’s The Submission(2011) confronts the profiling, racism, and backlash towards Muslims in America after 9/11. The protagonist of the novel, Mohamed Khan, is a well-educated professional and nonobservant Muslim who is forced by political circumstance to reconsider his US citizenship, his practice, and his faith. Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist(2007) reconsiders the American abroad who is both naïf and ugly in his encounter with the other, innocent and guilty of a civilized savaging of a foreign land. Both protagonists ultimately leave the US to become global citizens.
I’m pleased to post the final schedule for the Symposium on “Cosmopolitanism and Globalization,” organized by Richard Cohen in the Department of Jewish Thought, with support from the Humanities Institute and the Baldy Center. All talks will be held in 508 O’Brian Hall on October 23-24.
I will present a lecture, “Transversal Cosmopolitanism and the Global Novel,” at the Cosmopolitanism vs. Globalization Symposium, sponsored by the Department of Jewish Thought, the Humanities Institute, and the Baldy Center at the University at Buffalo, on Monday, October 23, in 508 O’Brian Hall.
Transversal cosmopolitanism offers resistance to both the hegemony and homogeneity of globalization through the highlighting of incommensurable cultural difference, the fostering of creative appropriation, and an exposure to alternative systems of belief or idioms.
Cosmopolitanism occupies the same pathways of (de)differentiation and (de)territorialization as globalization, but at every point its relation to the hegemonic flow is transversal rather than oppositional, diagonal rather than dialectical. Transversality in Deleuze and Guattari’s “lines of flight” accounts for hybridity, the combination of elements that correspond obliquely on what would otherwise be separate and non-communicating pathways. Transversals are “double captures” with the potential for change that affects both elements in a correspondence.
I read the post-9/11 global novel as an expression of transversal politics, as narratives that expose the différend which resists translation into a single global idiom; and I identify those characters who are cosmopolites, global citizens, who instigate a shared deterritorialization or double capture, or who may be types of an ethnocentric nationalism advanced in the 2016 Presidential election that is in the process of transversal transformation. I examine four novels that traverse in bi-social fashion the fractious relationship between Islam and the west. Amy Waldman’s The Submission (2011) and Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land (2007) confront the profiling, racism, and backlash towards Muslims in America after 9/11. The protagonists of both novels are well-educated professionals and nonobservant Muslims who are forced by political circumstance to reconsider their citizenship, their practices, and their faith. Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) and Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King (2012) reconsider the American abroad who is both naïf and ugly in his encounter with the other, innocent and guilty of the civilized savaging of a foreign land. All four protagonists leave the US to become global citizens.
I’ll present a paper, “The Ritornati: Migration and Remigration in Sciascia’s ‘The Long Crossing’ and Tucci’s Big Night,” at the Italian American Studies Association Annual Conference, California State University, Long Beach, CA. November 3-5, 2016.
The turmoil regarding migration, immigration and remigration has engulfed both Italy (and the European Union more broadly) as well as the United States. There are two sides to the coin of migration, and historically the two countries have coped with surges of immigration and remigration (the return to one’s homeland) with unfortunately proscriptive strategies. Of the 64,900 migrants, most from sub-Saharan Africa, who sought political asylum in Italy in 2014. 6,944 were forcibly deported and the remainder of these refugees were expected to continue their trek to northern European Union countries rather than remain as “guest workers” in the struggling Italian economy.
The irony of such a massive migration into Italy and the European Union would not be lost on Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia, whose story, “The Long Crossing,” concerns Sicilian villagers who are conned by that day’s version of human traffickers into believing they will be deposited (as illegal immigrants) on the shores of New Jersey. Between thirty-five and fifty percent of the mostly single males who ventured to L’America returned to Italy; the ritornati were indeed remigrants. In Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott’s film, Big Night (1996), chef Primo considers whether to return to work in his uncle’s restaurant in Rome, against his brother Secondo’s conviction that only America provides the opportunity for advancement. Migrants into both the United States and Italy have faced isolationist, xenophobic and anti-immigration political parties such as the Northern League and the Tea Party.
I’ll be presenting a paper on “The Ruins of the Future: Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg’s Adaptation, and Gerhard Richter’s October 18, 1977,” at the conference on Melancholia: Imaging the End of the World, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany, June 5 to 7, 2013.
After the millennial apocalypse that went by the name Y2K fizzled, Americans felt secure in their leadership of the New World Order; but then the Towers fell, ushering in the twenty-first century for real as an age of terror and retribution. Don DeLillo’s novel, Cosmopolis (2003), probes the source of this catastrophe in the transnational forces of global capitalism and resistant terrorism. The novel chronicles a single day in April 2000 when the financial market suddenly loses its momentum and wobbles towards collapse. As billionaire currency speculator Eric Packer embarks on a crosstown odyssey in Manhattan, he is confronted by black flag anarchists at the NASDAQ Center, the funeral cortege of a murdered rapper, the President’s motorcade, and finally a lone assassin who resembles an amalgam of Lee Harvey Oswald and John Hinckley, Jr. DeLillo remarks that “the day on which this book takes place is the last day of an era.” The film adaptation of Cosmopolis (2012) by David Cronenberg evokes both the claustrophobic compression of a long day’s journey and a fatalistic inevitability as Packer and the country accelerate toward “the ruins of the future.” In a cotemporaneous short fiction by DeLillo, “Baader-Meinhof” (2002), strangers view the installation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York of Gerhard Richter’s cycle of fifteen canvases, October 18, 1977 (1988), that render in blurred grayscale images the suicides of German Red Army Faction terrorists, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin, and Andreas Baader. Resistance to state corporatism and the origins of modern terror bring artist, novelist, and filmmaker to a vision of an apocalypse yet to come.