Book Review: Contemporary American Fiction in the Embrace of the Digital Age by Béatrice Pire, Arnaud Regnauld & Pierre-Louis Patoine

Béatrice Pire, Arnaud Regnauld, and Pierre-Louis Patoine. Contemporary American Fiction in the Embrace of the Digital Age (Sussex Academic Press, 2022), pp. 224, £70 Published earlier this year, Contemporary American Fiction in the Embrace of the Digital Age is a valuable resource for addressing issues around technology in the contemporary… Continue reading

Black Girl Magic, Community and Celebration in Contemporary American Culture

This article is adapted from the keynote presentation given at BAAS Postgraduate Symposium, 4th December 2021. The ‘Black Girl Magic’ movement is an opportunity both to celebrate what is means to be a Black woman and also challenge the oppressional practices and contemporary issues that affect them and their community…. Continue reading

Book Review: Philosophy for Spiders: On the Low Theory of Kathy Acker by McKenzie Wark

McKenzie Wark’s work over the last decade and a half has delved into a remarkably vast array of themes and problems, running the gamut from the politics of forms of communication, to the relevance of early Soviet thought in the Anthropocene, via a series of books on the Situationist International. If there has been a common thread to these studies, it may be Wark’s account of low theory—a compellingly protean articulation of the possibilities for theoretical production from below, beyond the canonisation of High Theory. Continue reading

Book Review: Fictive Fathers in the Contemporary American Novel by Debra Shostak

‘Why is it’, Debra Shostak asks at the beginning of Fictive Fathers in the Contemporary American Novel, ‘that so many works of fiction of the last fifty years, especially those centring on relation within middle-class white families, are haunted by the figure of a father who […] fails his family or vanishes in actuality? […] What are the nature and sources of the originary image of paternal security and authority that cause disappointment, disruption, or trauma when an individual father falls short?’ (2). Powered by these questions, Fictive Fathers is centrally concerned with exploring the relationship that fathers have with fictionality. It explores the ‘double meaning embedded in the titular “fictive fathers”’: in one sense about the representation of fathers in recent fictional texts, but also how these texts narrate the ‘fathers for (and by) whom the pervasive construction of traditional white fatherhood in the United States is laid bare as illusory’. For Shostak, ‘this “fictive” fatherhood constitutes a myth, on the social plane, and a fantasy, on the personal plane’ (3). Continue reading

Taking Notice: Nature and Climate Change Deniers in American Climate Fiction

Climate change is no taboo topic as in recent years, figures and organisations such as Greta Thunberg and WWF have brought the on-going environmental crisis to the media’s forefront, presenting us with frankly terrifying statistics about our planet’s future if radical changes to our destructive behaviours are not made. Literature… Continue reading

Book Review: Nathanael T. Booth, American Small-Town Fiction, 1940-1960

From Disneyland’s ‘Main Street, USA’ to the historical living-history museum of Colonial Williamsburg, the small town has always held a mythic allure in the American cultural imaginary. For purveyors of commercial and cultural ideology, such as Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Norman Rockwell, it is a sacrosanct place of American innocence. For other artists and social commentators, however, such as Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, and H. L. Mencken, the small-town is an enclave of conservatism, insularity, and backwardness. In his new publication, American Small-Town Fiction, 1940-1960, Nathanael T. Booth assesses these ideological vagaries through the focalised study of mid-twentieth century American literature, arguing that the small-town is vital to ‘America’s self-fashioning’ (1) of a democratic centre that is characterised through changing modalities of nostalgia, utopia, isolation, and melancholy. Continue reading

Review: IAAS Postgraduate Symposium

‘This is America? Shaping, Making and Recreating’, IAAS Postgraduate Symposium, Trinity College Dublin, 10 November 2018 Programme: https://issuu.com/iaas/docs/iaaspg18_programme.docx The 2018 postgraduate symposium for the Irish Association for American Studies, co-organised by Postgraduate and Early Career Caucus co-chairs Sarah Cullen and James Hussey, set out to explore the narrative creation and… Continue reading

Review: The British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies Biennial Conference: What Happens Now 2018

Review: The British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies Biennial Conference: What Happens Now 2018, Loughborough University, 10-12 July 2018 If the inaugural British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS) conference is anything to go by, academics are a dedicated lot. Even persistent hot weather and a World Cup semi-final did not… Continue reading

Review: The Half-Life of Philip K. Dick

Review: The Half-Life of Philip K. Dick, Queen Margaret University, 27 April 2018 Philip K. Dick is a strong candidate for serving as the twentieth century’s science fiction prophet—his novels and essays still resonate with audiences across the globe fifty years after they were written. Whether scholars are analyzing cinematic… Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: THE QUIET CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN NOVEL, BY RACHEL SYKES

Rachel Sykes’ much-needed monograph, The Quiet Contemporary American Novel (TQCAN) compellingly argues that there is a vein of quiet that runs through American literary canon and remains prevalent in contemporary US culture.
This book explores ‘quiet’ as a narrative concept in contemporary US fiction. In her thorough development of the term, Sykes gives us an idiom for a narrative aesthetic that is motivated by values of contemplation and characterised by its interest in the lives of introverted scholarly characters. Continue reading