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settlement: Jamestown 1607; joint stock companies: charter granted by the King, private shares; Pilgrims wrote rather well b/c reading and writing important for their religion (also established universities and introduced printing presses) - Smith: compendium of many texts deemed useful; different genres: autobiography, geographical descriptions, accounts of historical events, captivity narrative; different authors (= more credibility); nucleus: letters to shareholders; publication = advertisement; references to God to authorize the colonizing project - Pocahontas: real name = Matoaka, later married John Wolfe and went to England; Smith’s account of his rescue: 7 years after the fact; appeal of the Pocahontas-myth: Native Americans recognize the cultural superiority of the white man → Native woman voluntarily hands over her land, “rightful” possession of the white man Mary Rowlandson: A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mary Rowlandson (1682) - King Philip’s War: 1675-6; named after Metacomet (or King Philip), the Native leader of the rebellion; half the settlers and more than three fourths of the Natives killed; context of captivity narratives - captivity narratives: genuine American genre (predecessor of Western); very religious: autobiography interwoven with Biblical passages; justifying colonial aggression against Native Americans - Rowlandson: more than 11 weeks in captivity in 1675; stark contrast between Native Americans (brutal, uncivilized, despite instances of kindness: e.g. giving her a Bible) and European settlers (civilized, Christians); important role of Christianity: God’s providence governs everything (even the death of her child and the temporary supremacy of the Natives), affirmation of the errant into the wilderness (affirmation was needed b/c many children who had been abducted by Native Americans later chose not to return) Edgar Allan Poe: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) - Short story: essentially American genre; According to Poe the following elements constitute a short story: unity of effect, brief prose tale (with poetic elements), must be readable in one setting, simple but vivid effect, climatic conclusion - Poe’s concepts for poetry: (also partly valid for short stories); besides the above stated, melancholy is the most legitimate poetical tone, death of a beautiful woman is most pertinent object of contemplation - Gothic tale: dark and gloomy setting, sombre mood, mystery and terror, madness and death, house mirrors psychological state of characters, tale within tale, house as a/n actor/character - Role of the narrator: first person narrative, limited and not reliable, nameless Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter (1850) - American Renaissance: American literature emancipates itself from English literature - Genre: calls his genre ‘romance’ instead of novel; enables a certain latitude: novel = minute fidelity to the probable and ordinary course of man’s experience ↔ romance = has the right to present truth under circumstances of the writer’s own choosing or creation; writer might also manage his atmospherical medium; connecting a by-gone time with the very present; “the book may be read strictly as a Romance, having a great deal more to do
with the clouds overhead than with any portion of the actual soil of the County of Essex” (definition taken from his Preface to The House of the Seven Gables) - Motifs: criticism of Puritan system; changeability of words and letters (cultural contexts determines meaning) - Literary devices: found script/manuscript as verification of narrative; symbolism (e.g. rose-bush in first chapter); allegoric elements (clothing has a central function to mirror people’s inner self, almost ‘live’/function without people); change of narrator: in preface 1st person narrator = Hawthorne, story itself 3rd person narrative Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) - sentimental novel: Earl of Shaftsbury (18th century): philosophy of sentimentality: mankind = good; feelings = basis for interaction, but need to be balanced by rationality; empathy / pity with marginalized people = important for improving social relations / intended effect of sentimental novel: crying, change of heart - gender in the 19th century: ideology of separate spheres → cult of true womanhood / domesticity; ideal: white middle class; 40 % of all literary texts in the 19th century were produced by women; Stowe: women’s sphere superior to men’s sphere → tears vs. money: money: limited, competition / tears: unlimited, solidarity - Fugitive Slave Law: passed in 1850, forbidding people from helping runaway slaves - plot: Eliza flees from her owner after she hears that he plans to sell her son, escapes with the help of white people (one of them having just passed the Fugitive Slave Law) and the support of her fellow slaves (derailing and misleading slave trader Haley); Tom is sold down South away from his family, along the way he saves a white girl named Eva and is bought by her family, his owner has a dispute with his Northern cousin Ophelia, who is against slavery but prejudiced against black people, Tom’s owner buys a slave girl (Topsy) for Ophelia to educate, Eva grows ill, has a vision of heaven, dies, everybody around her is bettered; Eliza meets up with her husband George who shoots a slave trader who chased them down; Tom is sold to a vicious plantation owner who has him beaten to death when he refuses to tell him where two of his slaves have fled to, Tom’s first owner wants to buy him back, but is too late - form: sentimental novel, melodramatic, almost like a sermon at times, many references to Christian themes, directly addresses the reader, irony and humour, dialect - domesticity: opposite of slavery (sale of children, division of families) - 2 options: Tom: black savior, embodying Christian values → self-sacrifice seen as victory by many white Christians / George: defends his family, becomes a missionary in Africa → Stowe does not advocate full racial equality - racial stereotypes: Uncle Tom: black person that sold out to white people; pickaninny: dirty, mischievous black child; dark mammy: everybody’s loving mother - audience: white Northerners (middle class): many examples of how white people should and shouldn’t behave → made them become invested in anti-slavery movement; book very successful: second best-selling book of the 19th century after the Bible, most filmed story of the silent film era, Tom shows Harriet Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1961) - slavery: chattel-slavery (slaves = property), children followed the condition of the mother (so that they could become their father’s property), slave families had no rights or duties towards each other, slaves were prohibited from learning how to read and write → Africa was seen as inferior b/c of its lack of a written culture
- slave narratives: not the same as sentimental novels; written by slaves; political agenda: ending slavery; not all were written in English; stress the importance of learning how to read and write; about 100 slave narratives until 1865; later: slave narratives lose political agenda, become more of a historical document; prefaces by white abolitionists testifying to the truth of the story (→ Realism) - Jacobs: (pseudonym in the book: Linda Brent) doesn’t know she is a slave until her mother dies; learns how to read and write from her mistress, falls in love with a free black man, who eventually moves North, is sexually harassed by her master, has two children from a white lawyer (is particularly distressed when she finds out that the second child is a girl), hides in her grandmother’s attic for 7 years, escapes to the North, is bought and freed by her white employer, but continues to work for her and never has her own home - female slaves: story highlights the particular plight of female slaves, who have to face sexual harassment on top of everything else; Jacobs defends her decision to have children out of wedlock as a means to escape her owner’s harassment; attic = symbol of narrow options for slave women
Emily Dickinson: poems - Poetry of the American Renaissance: most highly regarded literary form - Form: short poems, no strict rhyme scheme, use of dashes instead of full stops, great variety in length of lines, pure/not very refined form, emphasis on original vision, primitive simplicity that defies and transcends formal conventions - Content: mainly topics such as love, nature, religion, philosophy, death and immortality; introverted treatment of these themes (e.g. poem 348); unconventional imagery (lover as a loaded gun (754), couple as porcelain (640), frost beheads flowers (1624)); imagery sometimes regarded as ‘unfeminine’ Walt Whitman: “Song of Myself” (1855) - Transcendentalism: American Romanticism; based in New England → rebellion against Harvard education; misunderstanding of Kant (via Coleridge): whereas for Kant the transcendental was not accessible to reason, the Transcendentalists thought that the transcendental could indeed be grasped through intuitive reason: triad: man-nature-oversoul (transparent eyeball); understanding vs. reason; against rationalism and materialism; importance of individualism (against state interference); importance of self-reliance (= manhood); American Newness (democratic and spiritual possibilities); optimism, belief in progress; largely non-fictional: essays, diaries - Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The American Scholar” (1837): new American approach to reality: not just books → nature; scholar dedicates all his time to thinking and experiencing nature → representative of the people - Whitman: prototype of the American scholar: spends his time exploring and absorbing, shift from “pure nature” to city life, “expansive self” - Song of Myself: included in Leaves of Grass; dialogic structure: I – nation/society; America = different people in different regions, working indifferent professions, different ages, genders, ethnicities → inclusive manner of representation (transparent eyeball): Whitman sees all, feels all, represents all; “Leaves of Grass:” grass consists of individual leaves, but only together do they form grass (America); trust in the potential of America; affirmation of (naked) bodies (and homoeroticism); harmonic vision: death and suffering as integral parts of life, unable to disturb the all-encompassing harmony
form: free verse: America doesn’t find into pre-existing forms → newness
Hermann Melville: Bartleby, the Scrivener (1853) pre-modernism: novella as on omnipresent gap → unending possibilities of interpretations; mirrors pre-modernist phenomena such as masculinity crisis, expansion of Wall Street/new employment situations, power hierarchies, meaning of existence, alienation among people and anonymity in the city; effect of the novella on the reader: at first: bafflement, confusion and rejection; later on insertion of various interpretations (dystopia, narrator’s schizophrenia, existentialism, struggle for power, resistance etc.) and revealing of an inherent truth form: homodiegetic/autodiegetic narrator with internal focalisation in retrospective (subjective, limited and unreliable); coining of a formula (‘I would prefer not to’) and repetition of it; characters function as symbols/allegories; settings have realistic and metaphorical function
Henry James: “Daisy Miller” (1878) - Realism: from omniscient narrator to third person personal narration → impression of objectivity and immediacy wealth of detail → verisimilitude (appearing to be true) from heroic characters to “everyday” characters → complex characters (usually middle class: conflict between nobility and nouveau riches → international theme, often about couples from different social spheres); characters more important than plot understanding of reality based on experience and observation, not on religion and traditional patterns of perception (empirical, positivist, post-metaphysical) – against idealization (romance, melodrama, sentimental novel): simple, descriptive language, openness of literary form, no happy ending (compromise, disillusionment), no clear-cut moral message → more active role of the reader in spite of disillusionment, compromise and greater openness: belief in moral world order, increasing civilization, progress → seeing reality for what it is will bring progress - plot: Winterbourne (American, lives in Geneva, apparently has an affair with a much older woman) visits his aunt Mrs. Costello in Vevey, where he meets Daisy Miller (a young American travelling with her mother and brother Randolph), is intrigued by her boldness and her free-spirit, his aunt disapproves of her because she has no manners and belongs to the nouveau riches, Winterbourne meets her again in Rome, where she is flirting with many Italian “gentlemen,” especially Mr. Giovanelli, Daisy is ostracized by the American expatriates in Rome because of her flirtatious behavior, contracts Malaria on a night out in the Colloseum with Giovanelli, dies - genre: novella (between a short story and a novel) - narrator: third person narrator (heterodiegetic with internal focalization: Winterbourne), showing rather than telling - international theme: comparison between Europe and America, Old World vs. New World, culture vs. money; Millers = wealthy but vulgar, lacking distinction; James’s ideal: Daisy’s vivacity combined with manners - characters: focus is on the exploration of Daisy’s character not on plot; characterization through descriptions of her outward appearance and behavior and through dialogue (no thoughts or feelings, unlike Naturalism); Winterbourne is disillusioned, has to adjust his first impression - women’s roles: Daisy: trying out the limits of what is acceptable for a young woman → is punished for her boldness and dies in the end, but ambivalence: Was Daisy really wrong
in demanding the same kind of freedom that men have? Is Daisy to blame for her wildness? Or is society to blame for their narrow-mindedness? Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The Yellow Wall-paper” (1892) - plot: narrator and her husband John stay in a country house in order to afford the narrator the rest she supposedly needs to recuperate from her “nervousness”, John forbids her to write, keeps her cousins away, her child is taken care of by a nurse, narrator becomes increasingly fascinated with the pattern of the wallpaper, goes mad in the end - form: first-person narrative, fictional diary, becomes increasingly dissociated, mirrors her state of mind - intention: “It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy.” - situation of women: husband and brother have complete authority over the narrator because they are men and doctors, they don’t even attempt to understand her and systematically drive her mad by withholding everything from her that she cherishes, they think that she isn’t really sick, her husband tells her she is better whether she knows it or not; husband belittles her (laughs about her, calls her little goose and little girl);narrator can’t fulfil the role of the good wife: mother and hostess, isn’t allowed to do what she really wants to do: write - wall-paper: symbolizes the role of women = mere decoration; in the absence of real written text, the wallpaper becomes a paper, a written text that the narrator tries to decipher → in the absence of everything else, it affords her the opportunity to discover something for herself; color, pattern, woman, smell → increasing obsession with the wallpaper; increasing identification with the woman that is kept behind the wallpaper (at first, she wants to help the woman, then she sees herself as the woman); symbolizes the restrictions that women face in a patriarchal society (pattern becomes bars) → even if they escape, they can only crawl (like the women she imagines to see outside the house); sunlight = realm of the male, wallpaper = ordinary wallpaper / moonlight = realm of the feminine, woman becomes “visible” behind the pattern Zitkala Ša: Impressions of an Indian Childhood (1900) - Wounded Knee: 1890: end of Native American resistance - plot: carefree childhood on the reservation, growing up with her mother, strong connection with nature and the community, tempted away to a missionary school at age 8 - genre: autobiography, vignettes - native contents for a white audience: written in English (not her native language); published in an influential literary magazine; explaining customs and traditions for people unfamiliar with them - influence of white people: narrator’s uncle and sister die after the tribe is relocated; narrator and her brother are taken away from their mother and educated at a missionary school; brother persuades his mother to move from a wigwam into a hut (→ foreigner in her own home) - community: telling stories by the fireside at night; elder accepts her “coffee” without making her feel bad; carefree play on the plains with her friends; her mother cooks for the sick and needy; ancestors: plum bush growing out of a dead man’s body (relational self vs. white rational self) - simple life: learning how to do beadwork from her mother; drying food and meeting the squirrel; pieces of river ice in her marbles
- “big red apples”: symbol for temptation; ambivalence: education is important, but “I was frightened and bewildered as the captured young of a wild creature.” Theodore Dreiser: Sister Carrie (1900) - Naturalism: as continuation of Realism: against idealization, wealth of detail (dialect, clothes, etc.), expansion of literary subject matter (lower class, slums) / as departure from Realism: different understanding of civilization (masculinity crisis: against over-civilization, civilization as a thin veneer covering more elemental forces: influence of environment, heritage, sex, money, “primitive” desire → Social Darwinism), break-up of moral world order, plot of exhaustion/degeneration, pessimism - plot: Carrie goes to Chicago at 18, lives with her poor sister, loses her first fob as a factory worker, becomes Drouet’s mistress, leaves him for Hurstwood, Hurstwood steals money from his company → downfall, anonymous suicide, Drouet continues his affairs, Carrie becomes a successful actress, but in the end is not satisfied with material wealth (always longing for something else) → x-shaped plot - influence of the environment: narrator: “Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse.” → city as alluring, tempting protagonist (ties in with “city beautiful” movement: first skyscrapers in Chicago) - materialism: Carrie makes immoral choices, but achieves fame and wealth / her sister leads an honest life, but is poor and over-worked; sensuous, tender descriptions of material things (Drouet’s purse, 10-dollar bills, department stores; personification of clothes and shoes → speak to her); hunger and hard work would be more acceptable for Carrie than spoiling her appearance; theater and department stores (consumer society in general) as places of opportunity for women - suspension of morals: Carrie makes immoral choices, but achieves fame and wealth / her sister leads an honest life, but is poor and over-worked → narrator in the end understands and approves of Carrie’s longing for material things and her opportunistic behavior (Carrie = perfect adherent of capitalism); Hurstwood and Drouet are probably equally immoral → one makes it, one doesn’t - pre-modern in its description of inarticulate feelings (turning away from rational thought and conversation) W.E.B. DuBois: The Souls of Black Folk (1903) - DuBois: connection to Europe (Berlin), first black man to get a PhD from Harvard; conflict with Booker T. Washington (Tuskegee Institute: training in agriculture and mechanical skills for blacks): Do blacks need college education? Should blacks trade political and civil rights for a basic level of education? - genre: essay (not strictly academic) - color-line: problem of the 20th century - double consciousness: awareness of how others (white people) look at you and selfawareness (not really developed b/c of the overpowering influence of white people)→ conflict of ideals (“this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others … an American, a Negro; two souls, tow thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body”) - African American spirituals: as valuable as the most accomplished forms of Western music, incorporated into his text at the beginning of each chapter - masculinity: very important, needs to be reasserted for black men (women: emphasizing their respectability)
- veil: blacks are different from white people, shut out from their world, DuBois: desire to be better than white people, to appropriate the world of white people for blacks - shadow: black people live under a shadow of slavery, death and racism that threatens to leave their potential forever unfulfilled Gertrude Stein: “Melanctha” (1909) - Modernism: experimentation with literary form (fluidity, dynamism, fragmentation); opening up new areas to representation (thoughts, feelings, semi-conscious states) through stream of consciousness-narration, interior monologue, free indirect discourse; materiality of language; disillusionment with civilization, trauma of the war → interest in marginalized discourses (primitive and new), general desire to “make it new” - 3 stages of Modernism (Heinz Ickstadt): Avantgarde (early 20th century, Dadaism, Futurism, Surrealism → Stein) / “Classic Modernism” (after WW I, Pound, Elliot, Joyce) / Late Phase (after WW II, canonization through New Criticism, late works of major writers) - 2 Modernist discourses (David A. Hollinger): progressive discourse (modernity addressed at the level of content → Fitzgerald) / modernism proper (modernity affects literary form and language → Stein) - Stein: emigration to Paris with her brother, establishes an important salon, artistic motto: “A rose is a rose is a rose.” - plot: one of three novellas that comprise “Three Lives,” originally a story about a lesbian relationship between three women, changed into a story about black people (to retain the transgressive element?), Melanchta (mulatta) is sexually initiated by a woman (Jane), then goes through life wandering and always searching for more, breaks up with her middle-class lover Jeff, has an affair with Jem, a gambler, is ostracized by her friend Rose, Jem breaks up with her, dies of consumption - William James (Harvard psychologist): people are characterized by recurrent thought patterns → mirrored in Stein’s writing style: repetitions (parataxis); characterizations through repetitive descriptive phrases and direct speech - Cézanne: “in composition one thing was as important as another thing. Each part is as important as the whole.” → democratic writing style, no hierarchies in the text - Cubism: objects/characters are simultaneously seen from different perspectives → continuous present (dissolution of timeline) / abstract representations - repetitions: highlights the materiality of language; language intervenes, disturbs, breaks with realist conventions and expectations; representation of Melanctha’s life as forcing her to repeat oppressive patterns - racial stereotypes: happy and carefree Negro, warm Negro sunshine → On the other hand: Does repetition question their validity? Also: black people are shown as complex characters. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (1925) - plot: narrator Nick Carraway recounts the story of his neighbor Gatsby in West Egg (Long Island, newly rich); Gatsby comes from a poor family, but gained a fortune, which he spends in order to win back his old love Daisy (East Egg, old money, narrator’s cousin), Daisy rejects him (because of his materialism, lower class status, bootlegging), he is killed because of a car accident that Daisy caused, lonely funeral - formal innovations: rather conventional apart from (color) symbolism and creating the impression of speed by leaving out parts of the plot - capturing the mood of the 20’s: prohibition and bootlegging; quick fortunes and fabulous display of wealth; no morals and senseless enjoyment; restlessness; dissolution of clear-cut boundaries
- consumerism / American Dream: American Dream historically: belief in the good life for everyone, term only came up in the 30’s as a criticism of the materials turn of the concept after WWI; in Gatsby: erotics of wealth or the inorganic (Gatsby’s shirts, the food at the party); Upward social mobility through conspicuous consumption (parties, cars, clothes, huge house) based on money gained through shady means? Gatsby is killed in the end after Daisy rejected him: American Dream unachievable / too superficial? - old money: Daisy = Gatsby’s social superior; narrator also comes from an old money family: ambivalence towards Gatsby: admiration for his creativity and drive to remake himself, condescension because of his poor taste and superficiality Eugene O’Neill: The Emperor Jones (1920) - plot: first play that had a black lead character, Brutus Jones escaped from prison in the US by killing one of the guards, came to a South Sea island, where he mislead and exploited the natives and made himself their emperor, the natives finally desert him after two years and plan to kill him, he flees into the jungle, 6 encounters: little formless fears, Jeff, a black man Jones killed, the prison guard, slave auction, slave ship, sacrifice by the river, Jones dispels all encounters except the slave ship by using up his remaining bullets – shoots the crocodile in the last encounter with the silver bullet that he saved for killing himself, natives find him dead in the jungle - theater: Little Theater Movement / “playwright’s theater” → not built around certain famous actors, but rather around important playwrights (O’Neill: Provincetown Players) - innovations: stage background = plaster dome, lit from behind with bluish light, jungle = strips of cloth hanging from the ceiling, drums = beating throughout the entire play (identification with Jones, but also longing for his death to make the drums stop) - expressionism: events are portrayed through the eyes of the central character → subjective, symbols, “station drama” (character goes through different stages instead of 5 acts) - color symbolism: scarlet = royal, red = revolution, white = civilization - Jones: magnificent, dazzling, successful, quick-witted, learned the local language, used to work as a Pullman-Car-porter (best-paid job that a black man could get), learned his immoral ways from the white people he served, wants to make lots of money - Smithers: Cockney accent, lazy, cowardly, dress = “dirty white,” doesn’t speak the local language, inferior to Jones → certain reversal of racial stereotypes, but: - Jones is described as “typically negroid; yet there is something decidedly distinctive about his face,” he also speaks with an “inferior” accent: black vernacular, he is a criminal and a murderer, he loses everything in the jungle (stripping down of clothes), he is associated with the jungle (the primitive, primordial), he dies in the end – Smithers on the other hand survives and even watches Jones’s death – also: native black people are repeatedly called “niggers” and are portrayed as stupid and superstitious Langston Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” / “Mother to Son” (1926) / “Mulatto” / “Song for a Dark Girl” (1927) - Harlem Renaissance: black-wing of Modernism, more political than Modernism, Harlem = race capital of the world (b/c of many migrants from the South), writers, artists, musicians, critics; DuBois: create positive images of blacks → younger artists: want to write about whatever they find interesting; blacks seen as inferior because they didn’t have a written tradition → created culture to repudiate that claim; white people went “slumming” in Harlem, sought creative renewal in black culture
- Hughes: wants to represent African-American culture for African-Americans (and also for whites); topics: shame and waste of America’s colour prejudice, dignity and nobility of African heritage, celebration of African-American culture, essential human need for freedom and social justice; fights against racial injustice; sees himself as a representative of all black people (problem of writing self-proclaimed ‘negro’-poetry: should it emphasis similarities or differences between blacks and whites?); influenced by jazz and blues spirituals (rhythm very important) and black story-telling; free verse dominated by rhythmic metre; simple and unaffected diction; black vernacular → poetic aspects of black language; calland-response principle - The Negro Speaks of Rivers: history of black people dating back to the beginning of humankind (Euphrates), long history of slavery (Nile, Mississippi), Lincoln turning the “muddy bosom” of the Mississippi “all golden” with the Emancipation Proclamation - Mother to Son: black vernacular, life compared to a stair (“Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”), many difficulties for poor black people, but still there is progress (climbing up), optimism - Mulatto: about a “yellow bastard boy,” claiming his right as the white man’s son, mulattos compared to yellow stars in the night sky, many couplets - Song for a Dark Girl: about lynchings in the South, refrain: “Way down South in Dixie” taken from a then popular song John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath (1939) - 1930’s: Great Depression, Midwest = dust bowl (drought + extensive farming), Roosevelt’s New Deal: many government programs supporting the arts, documentary impulse (changing people by showing the “facts”), political agenda (many writers join the communist party), inclusion of working class and black writers into the mainstream, merging of modernism and realism - plot: history of the Joad family: moving to California because of the drought → no land or work in California (California is not the promised land any more, continual expansion to the West is over); intercalary chapters: generalizing from the Joad’s experience, giving a broad picture of the Dust Bowl Exodus (documentary style): meanness (rich people, tire sellers) and solidarity (truck drivers, waitress), suffering and hope - reception: banned or burned in several states because of its radicalism; number-one bestseller; Pulitzer Price in 1940 - Biblical rhetoric: If nothing changes, there will be a revolution; Biblical images point to a shared religion as part of the American identity; “grapes of wrath” = referring to Revelations; migration = similar to the exodus; option for the poor - role of women: mother Joad gains a new position of authority in her family after the journey when her husband is no longer able to sustain the family, tries to keep the family together; end of novel: woman nurtures a starving man after her child is stillborn → women seem to have more resources than men (“mother earth”), always required to give and nurture - Jeffersonian agrarianism: future of the US lies in agriculture; mark of distinction of the US: democracy, moral superiority, small scale farmers (independent, free to think of the common good) → cf. Steinbeck’s praise of horses over tractors - Steinbeck’s political stance: no abolition of private property; solidarity, sharing, community consciousness; no condescension, preserving poor people’s dignity, government payments as a right not a gift, supporting New Deal programs Bernard Malamud: “The Magic Barrel” (1958)
- Jewish American literature: 1624: first Jewish immigrants from Brazil; since 1880: large scale immigration of Orthodox Jews from Eastern Europe; inscription on the Statue of Liberty: “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus (first important Jewish American poet); important topics: immigration, assimilation, Jewish identity; Leslie Fiedler (1964): “Zion as Main Street:” Jewish marginality as a metaphor for general alienation, more interest in Jewish American topics after the Holocaust; after WWII: many Jewish Americans feel “white” and don’t want to be tied to their Jewish roots - plot: Rabbinic student Leo Finkle consults matchmaker Pinye Salzman in order to find a bride (like his parents before him), doesn’t like most of the women Salzman offers him, has a date with Lily Hirschhorn, who is older than Salzman told him and who makes him realize that he has neither loved God nor humans, in the end: Finkle meets up with Salzman’s daughter Stella, Salzman recites the kaddish (prayer for the dead) - Jewish tradition: Yiddish, references to Jewish institutions and customs (matchmaker, Rabbinical school, kaddish, gefillte fish) - form: humorous elements; realism mixed with supernatural elements (Finkle imagines Salzman’s presence during his date with Lily, magic barrel doesn’t exist, Salzman appears when Finkle needs him, violins and candles in the sky when Finkle meets Stella) Thomas Pynchon: “Entropy” (1960) - Postmodernism: group of writers in the 1960’s and 70’s (only white males); continuity with Modernism: experiments with literary form, opening up new areas of representation, materiality of language, connection between mainstream and marginal literature break with Modernism: language is everything, no direct access to reality / characteristics: loss of metanarratives and meaning (WWII), from irony to parody (doesn’t aim at change anymore), intertextuality (all stories have already been told), pastiche (pasting together materials from different sources, no distinction between high and pop culture), metafiction (reflecting on the process of writing), performance - plot: two apartments in D.C.: Meatball Mulligan’s lease breaking party lasts several days, increasingly descends into chaos, eclectic group of guests, in the end Meatball Mulligan restores some kind of order / Callisto’s apartment: hermetically sealed hothouse inhabited by Callisto, Aubade and many birds, refuge of order in a chaotic world, temperature outside stays at 37 F, a bird dies in Callisto’s hands, Aubade breaks the window to await the impending heat death → in the end: equilibrium between the two apartments = entropy - entropy: physics: 2nd law of thermodynamics: entropy increases in all closed systems → movement from order to chaos → endpoint: heat death (which is actually a cold death) / information theory: noise vs. information (language has no precise meaning, communication becomes impossible) - Garden Eden: Callisto’s apartment as a 2nd Garden Eden → criticism of America as the 2nd Garden Eden? - wealth of external references: makes coherent interpretation impossible Maxine Hong Kingston: Woman Warrior (1976) - Chinese American literature: Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (repealed in 1942), early Chinese American literature in the beginning of the 20th century (Sui Sin Far, Mrs. Spring Fragrance 1912), proliferation of Chinese American literature during and after WWII because of the American alliance with China against Japan - permanent sojourners: Asians will always be temporary visitors in the US, incapable of assimilation
- plot (No Name Woman): mother tells her daughter about her aunt in China, who had a child out of wedlock, brought disgrace on the family and killed herself and the child → warning to her daughter, daughter imagines different versions of the story (aunt was raped or really in love with the father of her child) in order to make the story meaningful for her own life in the US, daughter doesn’t want to collaborate in the silencing of her aunt - genre: fictional memoir: novel, autobiography, legend - ghosts: “real” ghosts populate the “talk-stories” of the narrator’s mother; the “talk-stories” themselves turn into ghosts haunting the narrator’s imagination; Americans are dangerous ghosts speaking a ghost language - role of women: narrator resents the extreme sexism of Chinese traditions, chooses the traditions she wants to relate to (Fa Mu Lan), finds her own life in the US apart from her family - hybridity: ancient Chinese legends are brought together with contemporary American life; multiple interpretations of a single story are given; representations of first and second generation Chinese Americans: between ghettoization and assimilation; different focalizers; the fictional and the “real” sometimes become indistinguishable; Chinese words are represented in English; mixture of genres Joy Harjo: “Call it Fear” / “White Bear” / “She Had Some Horses” (1983) - Native American literature after the 60’s: number of Native Americans increases b/c more people identify as Native American, Native American printing presses: more literature published, novels sell better than poetry, recourse to traditional Native American genres and art forms → orality (trickster tales, creation myths, healing songs) - Harjo: Creek, plays the saxophone → influence of jazz, blues, country music, specifically female perspective (mother-daughter relationships, marriage, motherhood), connecting contemporary urban experiences with a historical and mythic past - Drowning Horses: telephone call with a female friend who wants to kill herself – or is she being killed through every-day racism and alcohol addiction? lyrical I as “another mirror, another running horse:” Can she help her? “Her escape is my own:” they do find consolation in each other, orgasmic rhythm, end: repetition of: “No sound.” Did she kill herself after all? Toni Morrison: “Recitatif” (1989) - literary theory: black characters are always present, but never in the center; they stay in the margins where they are usually overlooked; texts are written less for white audiences, but for “my village” - plot: Twyla thinks back through successive encounters with Roberta, with whom she spent 4 weeks in an orphanage as a child (b/c Twyla’s mother “danced” too much and Roberta’s mother was sick), first encounter after that in a diner where Twyla works as a waitress and Roberta comes by with some of her friends on their way to meet Jimi Hendrix, second encounter in a gourmet grocery store, they have coffee together, Roberta mentions that Maggie was beaten by the older girls, third encounter in front of a school that is supposed to be integrated, Roberta is picketing against integration, Twyla joins the protests on the other side, holding up signs that only make sense in connection to Roberta’s, this time Roberta mentions that Maggie was black and that Twyla joined in kicking her, last encounter in a diner shortly before Christmas, Roberta now admits that she and Twyla didn’t kick Maggie and that she isn’t sure about her race anymore, both basically agree that they wanted to hurt Maggie and that they saw their respective mothers in her, end: Roberta asks Twyla: “What the hell happened to Maggie?”
- racial ambiguity: Twyla: warned about people of a different color; Roberta’s mother wouldn’t shake Twyla’s mother’s hand / Twyla: works as a waitress, lives in a poor city; Roberta: has big hair, looks down on Twyla, knows Jimi Hendrix / Twyla can hardly afford the food in the gourmet store; Roberta is very rich (beautiful dress, huge car, driver, lives in a very rich neighborhood) → everything is so easy for them / Twyla: for integration; Roberta: against integration - recitatif: vocal performance in which a narrative is not stated but sung - Maggie: kitchen woman, old, mute, sandy-colored, legs like parentheses → scapegoat, Roberta and Twyla project their fears and (self-)hatred onto her, Roberta uses her to make Twyla feel bad Gloria Anzaldúa: Borderlands/La Frontera (1987) - Chicano literature: has its roots in the farm workers movement of the 1960’s and 70’s, largely male in the beginning, primarily concerned with questions of identity - Anzaldúa: Chicana: Mexican, Native and Black roots, US citizenship; grown up in the Rio Grande Valley; queer feminist; teacher, writer - genre: 1. part: historical, autobiographical, linguistic, theological, cultural essays and prose texts / 2. part: poems - topics: borderlands as a region where people mix and interact, not a dividing line → creating a third space (Homi Bhabha): a hybrid culture that is more than the sum of its parts; mestiza culture: feminist, queer, multiethnic; hybridity / in-betweenness (race, gender, sexual orientation) as a strength not a weakness; reevaluation of Native traditions → using that which is empowering, rejecting that which is disabling; racism / injustice against Chicano/as → resistance; language → linguistic identity between 7 different versions of English and Spanish - hybridity: different genres, different languages (translations not always given), different ethnicities, feminist lens, queering gender and sexual orientation Tony Kushner: Angels in America (1995) - plot: Louis leaves Prior because he can’t deal with his impending death, Louis then hooks up with Joe, who finally admits that he is gay and leaves his wife Harper, Cohn is diagnosed with AIDS, Belize is Cohn’s nurse and a friend of Prior, when Cohn leaves a stack of AZT after his death, Belize gives it to Prior who continues to live for several years, after he received a call to be a prophet by an angel (gospel of immobility) and after a while rejected the call - reversal of margin and mainstream: gay characters are at the center of the play and of the society it portrays, they are present in all classes and races: Roy M Cohn = white, very successful lawyer, Joe = white, Mormon, chief clerk, Louis = Jewish, white, word processor, Prior = white, self-employed, independent means, Belize = black, former drag queen, nurse → gay culture as diverse as the mainstream - magic realism: angel, Harper and Louis appear in each other’s hallucinations, puppet in a Mormon puppet show comes alive, Ethel Rosenberg appears to torment Cohn - national themes: cold war, Reagan, AIDS
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