Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 2017 MLA paper

Jeanine Leane unfortunately will have to miss our teaching Australian Literature panel at the Philadelphia MLA but I am doing a short paper instead, the first two paragraphs of which are below.

Reading Melissa Lucashenko’s Mullumbimby in the Age of Trump

On November 5, 2008, I taught Aimé Césaire’s Miraculous Weapons as part of the New School's then-current literary foundations course. The poem was on the standard syllabus, but I deliberately assigned that day’s class to this African diaspora text as likely to mark the election of the first African American President the day before. And so, bleary eyed but quietly celebratory, we convened and, after I acknowledged the previous day’s events, had an attentive and involved discussion of the Martinican poet.
     Eight years later, I was teaching in New York University’s School of Professional Studies and was finally getting to give a course in one of my specialties, Australian literature. For November 9, 2016, I assigned Melissa Lucashenko’s Mullumbimby. This was not directly to honor the prospective first woman President, though I certainly wanted a female writer on that day. But I wanted to gesture towards a society where multiple racial, religious, sexual, and gender identities were celebrated, and dispossessed and under-recognized  groups such as Indigenous Australians were achieving acknowledgment and redress for the land that had been stolen from them by white settlers.
       My aspirations for this day were, alas, trumped.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

From 2015--my take on the "class struggle vs identity politics" meme

"Here, I would differ from Walter Benn Michaels’ analysis of recent American literature in The Shape of the Signifier, in that from my perspective cultural diversity is not, as Michaels argues, simply an illusion proffered by a protean and transmogrifying capitalism, but an ideal genuinely to be honored. Racial justice, if it had occurred, would justify any extreme of capitalism or inequality. But is there racial" Nicholas Birns, Contemporary Australian Literature, published December 2015. And still relevant to "what should the Democratic party do?" debates today, Nicholas Kristof's op-ed in todays TIMES made me think of this passage.