Storify of our #bookhour on SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD by Yuri Herrera

February’s #bookhour marked the first of Twitter chat of 2016. Donna Alexander hosted a discussion of Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman. She was joined by Dr Francisca Sánchez Ortiz, Dr Laura Smith, and Lisa Dillman. They considered a range of issues including, the myth of emptiness, the allegory of the underworld and how this worked with Mesoamerican mythologies alluded to by Herrera. Continue reading

Book Review: Poe and the Subversion of American Literature: Satire, Fantasy, Critique by Robert T. Tally, Jr.

One of the most valuable parts of Tally’s book is its revision of genre definitions. For example, his definition of terror (a definition it would be good for others to adopt) is that terror, at least in Poe, consists not just of the unknown but the unknowable–inscrutability. Such foundational illegibility terrified transcendentalism’s romanticized Enlightenment empiricism Continue reading

Book Review: Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism by Rachel Greenwald Smith

Rachel Greenwald Smith’s fascinating monograph argues against what she terms ‘the affective hypothesis’: the belief that literature should offer, and is most meaningful, when it transmits, ‘the emotional specificity of personal experience’ (1). She contends that the affective hypothesis functions invisibly, moving interchangeably between all aspects of the literary marketplace Continue reading

Book Review: An Infuriating American: The Incendiary Arts of H. L. Mencken by Hal Crowther

Facing a canonical author with an intimidating wealth of existing scholarship can, at times, beg the question: what is really left to say? Mencken certainly falls into this category, a fact acknowledged in the “Disarming Introduction to an Alarming American”. Yet, in only seventy-seven pages, Crowther manages to offer a valuable and engaging contribution to the discussion of an extensively discussed man. Continue reading

Book Review: Philosophy and Literature in Times of Crisis: Challenging Our Infatuation with Numbers by Michael Mack

Philosophy and Literature in Times of Crisis is, very consciously, a timely book. The crisis of the title is the political climate in which higher education in the arts and humanities currently finds itself. In the face of demands to demonstrate its economic contribution, arts education and research has been encouraged to make sometimes questionable claims for its ‘impact,’ its transferable values, or, in the event that its economic worth is not so readily visible, to make equally grandiose statements in support of its ethical or philanthropic mission. Continue reading

Book Review: The Queerness of Native American Literature by Lisa Tatonetti

Throughout November 2015, U.S. Studies Online will be publishing a series of posts to mark Native American Heritage Month. In this post, Professor Joy Porter (University of Hull) reviews The Queerness of Native American Literature by Lisa Tatonetti. Continue reading

Book Review: Stuff Theory, Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism by Maurizia Boscagli

In Stuff Theory, Maurizia Boscagli approaches the object at a particular moment in the life-cycle of consumer capitalism. When things are no longer desirable – when the shine has worn off, or clothes become overworn, and knick-knacks are shoved to the back of the shelf – but are not yet broken-down enough to be comfortably categorised as trash, they become, for Boscagli, ‘stuff’. Continue reading

Book Review: Melville: Fashioning in Modernity by Stephen Matterson

Before we launch into discussing the academic and literary merits of Matterson’s work per se, it has to be said that even the cover of this particular book evokes a sense of either a deliciously tongue-in-cheek literary inside joke, or else an amusing attempt to make the book more appealing to a lay reader unfamiliar with Melville’s world. Continue reading

Youth Politics and Dispelling the Image of The Terrible Turk with Selma Ekrem’s Autobiography, Unveiled

Within the confines of Ekrem’s autobiography rests not only a riveting exploration of the final hours of the Ottoman Empire, but one is allowed a unique glimpse behind the veils of Istanbul. It has further merits in that, through her use of her childhood and female memories, Ekrem was able to begin to dispel the “vague ideas of daggers, veils, ephemeral silks and heavy incense” that dominated one’s perception of Turkey and to chink at the armor of the Terrible Turk, “[a] huge person with fierce black eyes and bushy eyebrows, carrying daggers covered with blood.” Continue reading

Contemporary Pakistani American Women Writers: Writing their own stories, finding their own voices

Instead of presenting homogeneous views of the Pakistani American experience of immigrant or second-generation women, each of the authors articulates the need to be different in order to define and decide the lives of their women characters in their respective fiction. They present the Pakistani identity as well as the influence of Islam in the lives of their protagonists, not as a central element, but as another trait that adds to the individual characters. They, therefore, voice unique lives and present diverse stories that reflect select stories of the Pakistani American women’s experience in and among the Other in the US. Continue reading