Taking inspiration for its title from the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, this book collects essays that examine issues of personal and national liberty, of social, political, and religious expression, and reflect upon the ongoing battle to end discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Retracing the United States’ past, confronting its present, and pondering on its future, Discourse of Emancipation and the Boundaries of Freedom presents a wide array of disciplinary approaches, from such fields as literature, history, linguistics, cultural studies, gender studies, performance studies, political science, law, and psychology. Grouped in sections according to thematic affinity, the essays collected in this volume are representative of many different points of view about, and methodological approaches to, the concepts of emancipation and freedom. They explore the connection between physicality and the quest for freedom; the defense of identity in the face of racial or ethnic discrimination; the legacy of failed attempts to achieve freedom and justice; the great tradition and the current prominence of nature-related writing as a key to the interpretation of the American experience; the problematic aspects of American freedom as an exportable ideology; the ways in which emancipation and freedom figure in popular culture; the many different facets of collective emancipation, personal emancipation, and empowerment.
Leonardo Buonomo received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. He teaches American literature at the University of Trieste and is the President of the Italo-American Association of Friuli Venezia Giulia. His main research interests are in nineteenth-century American literature, Italian American literature, and American television series. He is a contributor to the online Literary Encyclopedia and a founding member of the Italian American Studies Network. His most recent book is Immigration, Ethnicity, and Class in American Writing, 1830-1860: Reading the Stranger (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2013) which is scheduled to come out in paperback in September 2015.
Elisabetta Vezzosi teaches United States History and Women’s and Gender History at the University of Trieste, where she also coordinates the Inter-University (Trieste-Udine) Ph.D. program “History of Societies, Institutions and Thought.” She has been president of the Italian Society of Women Historian, vice-president of the Italian Association for North American Studies, and she is currently member of the executive board of the Italian Society for the Study of Contemporary History. Among her most recent publications: “Gender, Generations, Leadership,” Journal of American History, 99.3 (2012) and “The International Strategy of African American Women at the Columbian Exposition and Its Legacy: Pan-Africanism, Decolonization and Human Rights,” Moving Bodies, Displaying Nations: National Cultures, Race and Gender in World Expositions. (Ed. Guido Abbattista, Trieste: EUT, 2014).
Better known as a science fiction writer, Philip K. Dick was, during the fifties, also the author of numerous mimetic novels, mostly published posthumously, set in the years of the rise of suburban communities in the American West. The aim of this essay is to show how these novels address and foreground one of the main concerns in Dick’s fiction: the theme of community-building. Present in a number of his science fiction novels, which often connect the suburban ideal with images of the Cold War, here this theme becomes the central focus. At least until the mid-sixties, in Dick’s highly polyphonic fictional worlds, the early fifties leave their mark as the memory of a time of troubled healing after the trauma of World War Two, and the suburb is a site of necessary reconstruction after an experience of societal and psychological breakdown.
The aim of this essay is to analyze food as a system of signs, narrative fantasy, and metanarrative elements in the novel The Body of Jonah Boyd (2004) by David Leavitt. In the first part, I illustrate some implications of, and strategies for reading food practices as systems of signs and/or cultural narratives; then I move on to argue that this signification can be related to an idea of fantasy as the imaginary relation between individual subjects and a given form of reality. In the second part, I use the relationship between food, signification, and fantasy as a critical tool for reading Leavitt’s novel, one that features food and its rituals as a code through which fantasies and fictions shape reality—taking, in turn, the form of (meta)literary, combinative clues to be deciphered.
In spite of the abundance of powerful female leads in recent media productions, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga (2005-2008) signaled a relapse into the ideology of the feminine mystique, famously addressed in Betty Friedan's eponymous volume (1963). By analyzing Meyer's portrayal of protagonist Bella Swan's utter lack of agency, this paper explores the ways in which the saga rehashes and perpetuates an age-old Weltanschauung in which women find their natural self-fulfillment through marriage and motherhood, using the generic conventions of supernatural romance to reinforce beliefs based on female submission, on what Jessica Valenti defines as The Purity Myth (2009) and on America's post-9/11 revival of the rhetoric of male heroism (Susan Faludi, The Terror Dream, 2007).
Starting with the observation that the Korean War is not properly represented in American historiography nor accounted for in American cultural memory, the article contends that it is only recently with the new wave of Asian (Korean) American authors that the war gets the recognition it deserves. The revision of the Korean War takes place in the ambit of an Asian American critique, as recently articulated by Jodi Kim, that re-centers attention from the European to the Asian axis of the Cold War. In the remainder of the essay, a reading of two transnational Asian American novels is offered that exemplifies a triangulated and transnationalized view of the war. The novels under consideration are Susan Choi's The Foreign Student (1998) and Chang-rae Lee's The Surrendered (2010).
The essay explores how, from the early fifties, the United States public diplomacy and soft power practices, namely through the USIS Yugoslav periodical Pregled [Horizons] and the Yugoslav Voice of America broadcasts, conceptualized the African American struggle for freedom and civil rights for the Yugoslav public. On the heels of recent historiographical inquiries, the article traces the trajectories, common places and justifications of the African American iniquitous treatment and civil rights struggles as inspired by American nationhood moral ideals and liberal traditions. These “languages of freedom” point finally to two evident contradictions: the Yugoslav intermediate position between East and West and its selective acceptance/rejection/reuse of American public diplomacy propaganda.