Thanks so much to Dr. Carrie Tirado Bramen, Rebekah Burke, and Hilary Vandenbark in the UB Gender Institute for a rewarding (and my first via Zoom) talk in the Feminist Research Alliance Workshop. And thanks as well to all who participated in the conversation on Laila Lalami, Valeria Luiselli, and narratives of migration.
I will be presenting a lunch-hour talk, Transnational America: The New Global Citizen in the Novels of Laila Lalami and Valeria Luiselli, in the Feminist Research Alliance Workshop in the University at Buffalo Gender Institute, on Thursday, October 1, 2020 from 12:00 – 1:30 pm, via Zoom.
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.
UB HUMANITIES INSTITUTE SCIENCE STUDIES RESEARCH WORKSHOP
Friday, February 17th, 12:00-1:30
306 Clemens Hall
University at Buffalo
The night of January 17, 1991, when laser-guided smart bombs and Tomahawk cruise missiles rained down on Baghdad at the start of the first Persian Gulf War, marked a transitionary moment from analogue to digital media. The legacy forms of broadcast TV, print fiction, and 2-D cinematic projection would be gradually replatformed by the new media of cable TV, ebooks, game boxes, and virtual reality.
Howard Rheingold’s influential Virtual Reality (1991) touted the “ten-year rule,” according to which computer enthusiasts by the millions—in 2001—would be interacting directly with virtual worlds through their desktop VR engines. But films of the 1990s, such as Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days (1995) and David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ (1999), and novels such as Pat Cadigan’s Synners (1991) and Richard Powers’s Plowing the Dark (2000), uniformly present VR as the usher to a postmillennial apocalypse. Their dystopias are a means by which the legacy media of print fiction and the cinema “remediate” both the false promises and the disturbing threats of an artificial reality that would supplant them.
Some say that with the technological improvements introduced by Oculus Rift or Google Glass, VR’s moment in media history has finally arrived in the 21st century; some say that for VR and its funny goggles, its future has already passed.
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.
Immigration Literature and the Alien Nation
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.
As part of the Buffalo Humanities Festival, “Migration Nation: Moving Stories,” I will present a lecture on “Naturalization, the Alien Nation and the Literature of Immigration,” Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 4 pm in the Burchfield Penney Arts Center on the Buffalo State College campus.
Friday, December 6, 4PM
Transnational Politics and the Post-9/11 Novel
Location: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
(341 Delaware Avenue)
Speaker: Joseph Conte, UB English
“Transnational Politics and the Post-9/11 Novel,” suggests that literature produced after Sept. 11, 2001 reflects a shift from the provincial politics of nation-states to those of transnational politics, and confronts issues that require adjudication across national, geographic, cultural, linguistic, religious and racial borders. Conte cites Don DeLillo’s “Falling Man,” Orhan Pamuk’s “Snow” and J.M. Coetzee’s “Diary of a Bad Year” as examples of work that articulates the emergence of resistance to the global hegemony of the market state and explicitly critiques transnational politics that arise as a result of globalization.
Joseph Conte’s research interests include postmodern fiction, transnational literature and politics, fiction after 9/11, postmodern theory, the literature of immigration, poetry and poetics. He is the author of Design & Debris: A Chaotics of Postmodern American Fiction, which received the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature from the University of Alabama Press in 2002, and Unending Design: The Forms of Postmodern Poetry, published by Cornell University Press in 1991. He has been a SUNY Senior Fellow at the New York-St. Petersburg State University Institute of Cognitive and Cultural Studies in St. Petersburg, Russia and Visiting Professor in Comparative Literature at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China.