Recent Faculty Publications
Tiananmen Fictions Outside the Square (Temple University Press, 2012) by Belinda Kong
The first full-length study of fictions related to the 1989 movement and massacre. Kong, an expert in Asian-American diaspora literature, spotlights four key Chinese writers who have written and published about the massacre from abroad. Their perspectives as "outsiders" inform their work and reveal how diaspora writers continually reimagine Tiananmen's relevance in a post-1989 world, where China has emerged as a major global power.
Academic Spotlight: Fiction From Afar: Chinese Writers Tackle Tiananmen
Novel Bondage: Slavery, Marriage, and Freedom in Nineteenth-Century America, University of Illinois Press, 2011 (University of Illinois Press, 2011) by Tess Chakkalakal
Filling a long-standing gap in our knowledge about slave-marriage, Novel Bondage unravels the interconnections between marriage, slavery, and freedom through renewed readings of canonical nineteenth-century novels and short stories by black and white authors. Tess Chakkalakal expertly mines antislavery and post–Civil War fiction to extract literary representations of slave-marriage, revealing how these texts and their public responses took aim not only at the horrors of slavery but also at the legal conventions of marriage.
Situating close readings of fiction alongside archival material concerning the actual marriages of authors such as Lydia Maria Child, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Wells Brown, and Frank J. Webb, Chakkalakal examines how these early novels established literary conventions for describing the domestic lives of American slaves in describing their aspirations for personal and civic freedom. Exploring this theme in post–Civil War works by Frances E. W. Harper and Charles Chesnutt, she further reveals how the slave-marriage plot served as a fictional model for reforming marriage laws.
As nonlegal unions, slave-marriages departed in crucial ways from the prevailing definition of marriage, and Chakkalakal reveals how these highly unconventional unions constituted an aesthetic and affective bond that challenged the legal definition of marriage in nineteenth-century America. Novel Bondage invites readers to rethink the "marital work" of nineteenth-century fiction and the historical role it played in shaping our understanding of the literary and political meaning of marriage, then and now.
Bowdoin Daily Sun: Bowdoin’s Chakkalakal Writes of Slavery, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Legacy
Exley: A Novel, Algonquin Books (Fall 2010) by Brock Clark
In Exley, as in his previous bestselling novel, An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, Brock Clarke takes his reader into a world that is both familiar and disorienting, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining. Told in the alternating voices of Miller and Dr. Pahnee, both unreliable narrators, it becomes an exploration of the differences between what we believe to be real and what is in fact real. Part literary satire, part mystery, Exley is further proof that in Brock Clarke, a writer whom critics have compared variously to Richard Ford and John Irving, American literature has a major new voice.
Academic Spotlight: Getting On the Same Page With Novelist Brock Clarke
Horror after 9/11: World of Fear, Cinema of Terror (University of Texas Press, 2011). Edited by Aviva Briefel
Horror films have exploded in popularity since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many of them breaking box-office records and generating broad public discourse. These films have attracted A-list talent and earned award nods, while at the same time becoming darker, more disturbing, and increasingly apocalyptic. Why has horror suddenly become more popular, and what does this say about us? What do specific horror films and trends convey about American society in the wake of events so horrific that many pundits initially predicted the death of the genre? How could American audiences, after tasting real horror, want to consume images of violence on screen?
Horror after 9/11 represents the first major exploration of the horror genre through the lens of 9/11 and the subsequent transformation of American and global society. Films discussed include the Twilight saga; the Saw series; Hostel; Cloverfield; 28 Days Later; remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, and The Hills Have Eyes; and many more. The contributors analyze recent trends in the horror genre, including the rise of 'torture porn,' the big-budget remakes of classic horror films, the reinvention of traditional monsters such as vampires and zombies, and a new awareness of visual technologies as sites of horror in themselves. The essays examine the allegorical role that the horror film has held in the last ten years, and the ways that it has been translating and reinterpreting the discourses and images of terror into its own cinematic language.
Political Economy and the States of Literature in Early Modern England, Ashgate Publishing, 2009 by Aaron Kitch
Crossing the disciplinary borders between political, religious, and economic history, Aaron Kitch's innovative new study demonstrates how sixteenth-century treatises and debates about trade invluenced early modern English literature by shaping key formal and aesthetic concerns of authors between 1580 and 1630. Kitch also invites us to ask whether we can speak of the distinct economic values of particular genres like comedy or epyllion.
--Blair Hoxby, author of Mammon's Music: Literature and Economics in the Age of Milton
Monstrous Society: Reciprocity, Discipline, and the Political Uncanny, c.1780-1848 (Bucknell University Press, 2009) by David Collings
Professor Collings examines the war between state power and the counter-power of popular collective action in England during the decades surrounding 1800. Collings argues that public protest against the reigning political body was an accepted part of everyday practice in the years leading up to the French Revolution.