Emergent U.S. Literatures: From Multiculturalism to Cosmopolitanism in the Late-Twentieth-Century

Emergent U.S. Literatures: From Multiculturalism to Cosmopolitanism in the Late-Twentieth-Century

Emergent U.S. Literatures: From Multiculturalism to Cosmopolitanism in the Late-Twentieth-Century

Emergent U.S. Literatures: From Multiculturalism to Cosmopolitanism in the Late-Twentieth-Century

Synopsis

Emergent U.S. Literatures introduces readers to the foundational writers and texts produced by four literary traditions associated with late-twentieth-century US multiculturalism. Examining writing by Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and gay and lesbian Americans after 1968, Cyrus R. K. Patell compares and historicizes what might be characterized as the minority literatures within "U.S. minority literature." Drawing on recent theories of cosmopolitanism, Patell presents methods for mapping the overlapping concerns of the texts and authors of these literatures during the late twentieth century. He discusses the ways in which literary marginalization and cultural hybridity combine to create the grounds for literature that is truly "emergent" in Raymond Williams's sense of the term- literature that produces "new meanings and values, new practices, new relationships and kinds of relationships" in tension with the dominant, mainstream culture of the United States. By enabling us to see the American literary canon through the prism of hybrid identities and cultures, these texts require us to reevaluate what it means to write (and read) in the American grain. Emergent U.S. Literatures gives readers a sense of how these foundational texts work as aesthetic objects- rather than merely as sociological documents- crafted in dialogue with the canonical tradition of so-called "American Literature," as it existed in the late twentieth century, as well as in dialogue with each other.

Excerpt

When I was growing up, strangers would ask me, “Where are you from?” and I’d say, “New York” or “the Upper West Side.” They’d look vaguely disappointed: “No, I meant what’s your background.” I wasn’t really being disingenuous, though I was well aware what the first question really meant. It’s just that I never particularly identified with either of my parents’ cultural traditions. My father is a Parsee, born in Karachi, when Karachi was a part of India, and my late mother was a Filipino. They had met at the International House at Columbia University, my father coming from Pakistan to study mathematical statistics, my mother from the Philippines to study literature and drama. We spoke English at home, and my parents had gradually lost their fluency in their mother tongues (Gujarati and Tagalog, respectively). What I identified with was being mixed and being able to slip from one cultural context to another. To my Parsee relatives, I looked Filipino; to my Filipino relatives, I looked “bumbai”; and to my classmates—well, on the rare occasions when someone wanted to launch a racial slur, the result was usually a lame attempt to insult me as if I were Puerto Rican.

We weren’t particularly religious at home, though we did celebrate Christmas and made it a point to attend the Christmas Eve services at Riverside Church in New York, a few blocks up the street from where we lived. My mother sometimes liked to attend Easter services there as well. It was always assumed that I would become a Zoroastrian like my . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.