116th Annual Conference - Bellingham, Washington
Friday, November 9 - Sunday, November 11, 2018

Agency and Performativity of Place in 20th and 21st Century American Literature

Session Chair: 
Megan Cannella, University of Nevada, Reno
Session 7: Sunday 8:15 am – 9:45 am
Miller Hall 156


  1. Edward Mahoney, Independent Scholar
    Analyzing the history and naming of the town in Colson Whitehead’s Apex Hides the Hurt through the critical theory of witnessing and testimony coupled with studies of communal trauma, specifically within the context of African American literature, indicates the significance of racial particularity, which is threatened by current neoliberal and postracial trends.
  2. Margarita Smagina, "Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France"
    In this paper, I will examine the representations of place in Ruth Ozeki’s 2013 novel A Tale for the Time Being, arguing that the Canadian Northwest gains narrative agency by informing and shaping the acts of reading and writing one’s history. I will also discuss how Ozeki expands and shifts the very definition of place by focusing on transpacific entanglements that transcend national borders.
  3. Nicole Dib, University of California, Santa Barbara
    This paper examines how Toni Morrison manipulates road trip aesthetics in her 2015 novel God Help the Child, a manipulation that “subjectifies” individuals who at first glance seemed positioned as objects along her protagonist’s path by car. In so doing, the novel performs different places by defining them less as locations on the map that her protagonist follows, and more as spaces marked by the minds that inhabit them.
  4. Samuel Jaffee, University of Washington
    Japanese- and indigenous-Peruvian poet José Watanabe addresses the tensions formulated in the 1920s by J. C. Mariátegui, the Peruvian philosopher and organic thinker of the cultural value of the management, ownership, and labor of land.  In his collection La piedra alada [The Winged Rock, 2005], rock formations are the central element of orientation and utopianism in Watanabe’s speakers’ process of remembering, wayfinding, situating, and imagining, and perhaps serves the nisei poet himself in establishing his own Andeanness.
Session Cancelled: