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.
My chapter, “Cosmopolitanism and Remigration in Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” has been published in Shifting Twenty-First-Century Discourses, Borders, and Identities, edited by Oana Celia Gheorghiu. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020. 3-22.
Transnational Politics in the Post-9/11 Novel suggests that literature after September 11, 2001 reflects the shift from bilateral nation-state politics to the multilateralism of transnational politics. While much of the criticism regarding novels of 9/11 tends to approach these works through theories of personal and collective trauma, this book argues for the evolution of a post-9/11 novel that pursues a transversal approach to global conflicts that are unlikely to be resolved without diverse peoples willing to set aside sectarian interests. These novels embrace not only American writers such as Don DeLillo, Dave Eggers, Ken Kalfus, Thomas Pynchon, and Amy Waldman but also the countervailing perspectives of global novelists such as J. M. Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk, Mohsin Hamid, and Laila Halaby. These are not novels about terror(ism), nor do they seek comfort in the respectful cloak of national mourning. Rather, they are instances of the novel in terror, which recognizes that everything having been changed after 9/11, only the formally inventive presentation will suffice to acknowledge the event’s unpresentability and its shock to the political order.
New York and London: Routledge, 2020
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429280733
xv, 278 pp.
Trump Fiction: Essays on Donald Trump in Literature, Film, and Television
Edited by Stephen Hock
Joseph M. Conte, Clinton J. Craig, Caitlin R. Duffy, Shannon Finck, Susan Gilmore, Laura Gray-Rosendale, Ashleigh Hardin, Stephen Hock, Meredith James, Peter Kragh Jensen, Bruce Krajewski, Tim Lanzendörfer, William Magrino, David Markus, Jaclyn Partyka, Steven Rosendale, and William G. Welty
“A masterful example of contemporary cultural studies, Trump Fiction assembles an array of insightful scholars working at the cutting edge of their fields to offer timely analyses of the social, cultural, and political phenomenon of Trumpism. By examining Trump’s presence in a dizzying array of cultural artifacts from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, the collection offers an invaluable historicization of the present. It also lays crucial groundwork for emerging conversations about the defining cultural forms of the present by exploring contemporary cultural responses to Trump’s candidacy and presidency. Filled with smart observations and juicy tidbits, these essays promise to engage, inform, and ultimately reshape the way we understand where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
— Mitchum Huehls, University of California, Los Angeles
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Trump Fiction: Essays on Donald Trump in Literature, Film, and Television examines depictions of Donald Trump and his fictional avatars in literature, film, and television, including works that took up the subject of Trump before his successful presidential campaign (in terms that often uncannily prefigure his presidency) as well as those that have appeared since he took office. Covering a range of texts and approaches, the essays in this collection analyze the place Trump has assumed in literary and popular culture. By investigating how authors including Bret Easton Ellis, Amy Waldman, Thomas Pynchon, Howard Jacobson, Mark Doten, Olivia Laing, and Salman Rushdie, along with films and television programs like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sesame Street, Sex and the City, Two Weeks Notice, Our Cartoon President, and Pose have approached and shaped the discourse surrounding Trump, the contributors collectively demonstrate the ways these cultural artifacts serve as sites through which the culture both resists and abets Trump and his rise to power.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Stephen Hock is associate professor of English at Virginia Wesleyan University.
Hardback: ISBN 978-1-4985-9804-0 November 2019 Regular price: $95.00/£65.00 After discount: $66.50/£45.50 ebook: ISBN 978-1-4985-9805-7 November 2019 Regular price: $90.00/£60.00 After discount: $63.00/£44.10 *eBooks can only be ordered online.
Narratives of migration extend from the halls of Ellis Island at the turn of the last century to the globalized transit depots of the twenty-first century. In narratives of immigration, first-generation immigrants are often driven to these shores by the blight of poverty or the sting of religious or political persecution; hope to make for themselves a fabled but often factitious “better life”; and are riven between the desire to retain old-world customs and language and the appeal of new-world comforts and technological advances. Second-generation immigrants face the duality of a national identity—striving to become recognized as “real Americans”—and an ethnic heritage that they wish to honor and sustain but which marks them as always an “other.” Here we encounter the hyphenated status of the preponderance of “natural born” American citizens. The third-generation descendent will have only indirect or acquired familiarity with his or her ethnic heritage; the loss of bilingualism or at best a second language acquired in school; and frequently a multiethnic identity resulting from the complex scrabble of American life in a mobile, suburban, and professionalized surrounding.
Mount Allegro (1989), Jerre Mangione’s memoir of growing up in the Sicilian enclave of Rochester, NY, portrays ethnicity that is insular, protective of its “imported from Italy” values, and yet desperate to find recognition as an authentic version of “Americanness.” Colm Tóibín’s novel, Brooklyn (2009), introduces us to the postwar generation of Irish immigrants in the borough of Brooklyn in the 1950s. Although it may not strike us as radical now, Eilis Lacey’s interethnic marriage to an Italian immigrant, and the conflicting draws of remigration and family ties, bring her to the crossroads of dilemma. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s short stories in The Refugees (2017) show the exacting toll that forced migration can take as, after the American war in Vietnam, families are broken between the homeland that has expelled them and the country that only reluctantly receives them. Dave Eggers’ fictionalized What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2006) tracks the exodus of a Lost Boy of Sudan, whose tragedy and loss in the midst of genocidal warfare is framed by his assault in an American city that is supposed to give him refuge.
The narratives of immigration to America impress the assimilation of the foreign body into the dominant imaginary of a white, Rockwellian Protestantism; the naturalization not only of the “resident alien” but also of the exceptionalism on which those cultural values stand; and a tribalism that is irreconcilable with a blended, pluripotential society. The narratives of remigration from America express a transversal politics of differentiation, a transnational identity that bricolages self and other, and the cosmopolitanism of an open, borderless world. This transnationalism, however, isn’t the pure product of a postmodern or post-9/11 condition. One hundred years ago the radical progressive intellectual, Randolph Bourne, issued a call in 1916 for a “Trans-national America” as the first World War engulfed the countries in Europe from which much of America’s immigrant stock was derived. Bourne was among the first to declare “the failure of the ‘melting-pot,’” a rejection of the assimilationist metaphor in which the “impurities” of an alien ethnicity are annealed in the blast furnace of American industrial capitalism; an Americanization that was indeed touted in such immigrant narratives as the widely-read autobiography of Mary Antin, The Promised Land (1912).
Novels of remigration include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013), whose protagonists Ifemelu and Obinze encounter a dream deferred in the West before their return to Nigeria; Amy Waldman’s The Submission (2011), which imagines a controversy arising from the juried architectural competition for the 9/11 Memorial, whose apparent winner is a young architect named Mohammad Khan; and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), a dramatic monologue delivered by a Princeton-educated Pakistani émigré who returns to Lahore after 9/11 to lecture in the classroom against American imperialism.
Other literary and critical readings will be available through UB Learns or on graduate course reserve. Course requirements will include a twenty-minute seminar presentation by all enrolled students and a twenty-page research paper from those students registered intensively.
My chapter, “The Deep Web of Conspiracies: Under the Shadow of Trump Tower in Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge,” appears in Trump Fiction: Essays on Donald Trump in Literature, Film, and Television, edited by Stephen Hock (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019), 97-111.
The literature of migration transcends the traditional borders of national literatures, native languages, colonialism, racial and ethnic divides, and religion. These fictions both represent and critique the technological consumerism, transnational politics, and cultural conflicts of migration that have come to dominate globalism. Its authors—and sometimes their texts—are bi- or multilingual, even as the world Anglophone novel trades in an English language that has become the lingua franca of an increasingly cosmopolitan citizenry. Works such as Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (2017), Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees (2017), and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013) ask whether the global novel can be “ours” in the same manner as a national literature or in the form of shared humanitarian values—like the “white helmet” volunteers of the Syrian crisis—of liberality, human rights, and a progressive, social democracy. Does such a transnational literature promote positive attributes through a crosspollination or eclecticism that more readily acquaints one culture with the unique differences of another, and might that lead to creative appropriation, pluralism, tolerance, and exposure to alternative systems of belief?
In an epoch of global economic interdependency, there has been a concomitant globalization of culture. On the one hand, the homogenization of culture through the dispersal of consumer goods and the saturation of mass media destroys the indigenous and authentic artifact. Native languages and religious practices, ethnic foods, handicraft arts and clothing, traditional music and entertainment face slow extinction. On the other hand, the transnational culture that arises may provide positive attributes through crosspollination or eclecticism that more readily acquaints one culture with the unique differences of another, sometimes leading to creative appropriation, pluralism, tolerance, and exposure to alternative systems of belief.
Cosmopolitanism has its origin in the assertion by Diogenes Laërtius, “I am a citizen of the world,” that he is kosmou politês, meaning that he did not identify with his local origin or caste but rather defined himself in terms of universalism and compassion for the other. But such a cosmopolitanism defined as katholikos (catholic, “universal”) has not been sufficiently extended in modernity to non-Western cultures. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari have proposed a transversalism that resists both the hegemony and homogeneity of late-capitalist globalization by highlighting incommensurable cultural differences and exposure to alternative idioms. Transversal cosmopolitans not only agree to shared values with others but submit to a “shared deterritorialization” in which they are as much operated upon by transversalism, altered in their conception of origin, participant in a line of becoming, mobile in state and cultural identity, as they are operating in a transversal exchange with the other. Transversals are oblique, “double captures” with the potential for change that affects both elements in a correspondence. The global novel is one such expression of transversal politics, not in an effort to arrive dialectically at mutual reassurances but as narratives that expose and foreground the différend which resists translation into a single global idiom.
Global novels transcend the traditional borders of national literatures, native languages, colonialism, racial and ethnic divides, and religion. These fictions both represent and critique the technological consumerism, transnational politics, and cultural conflicts of migration that have come to dominate globalism. Its authors—and sometimes their texts—are bi- or multilingual, even as the world Anglophone novel trades in an English language that has become the lingua franca of an increasingly cosmopolitan citizenry. We will ask whether the global novel can be “ours” in the same manner as a national literature or in the form of shared humanitarian values—like the “white helmet” volunteers of the Syrian crisis—of liberality, human rights, and a progressive, social democracy, or whether such novels are merely another item on the checkout receipt of the marketplace of popular ideas and entertainment.
Works for extended discussion may include: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013); Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives (2007); Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (2006); Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King (2013) or What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2006); Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (2012); Ha Jin, Nanjing Requiem (2012); Mohsin Hamid, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013) or Exit West (2017); Adam Kirsch, Writing the World in the 21st Century (2016); Colum McCann, TransAtlantic (2014); Christian Moraru, Cosmodernism: American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary (2011); Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (2006); Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003); Martha C. Nussbaum, For Love of Country? (2002); Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City (2003); W. G. Sebald, The Emigrants (1992); Mariano Siskind, Cosmopolitan Desires: Global Modernity and World Literature in Latin America (2014); Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000) or NW (2013). Other literary and critical readings will be available through UB Learns or on graduate course reserve.
Course requirements will include a twenty-minute seminar presentation by all enrolled students and a twenty-page research paper from those students registered intensively.