This seminar focuses on American literature in all periods and with an interdisciplinary lens. It showcases new work by scholars engaging with well-established and emergent methodologies in the history of American culture, literature, politics, and aesthetics.


Upcoming Events

Jason Ruiz, University of Notre Dame
Narcomedia: Latinxs, Drug Economies, and the Politics of Representation
Monday, April 17, 2017 - 6:00pm
Room 133, Barker Center

Respondent

Patricia Ybarra
Brown University

Abstract

According to various U.S. federal agencies, Latinx populations use illegal drugs at lower rates than the national average. Nonetheless, and related to the fact that Latinxs are disproportionately incarcerated for drug offenses, Latinos and Latinas remain overrepresented in U.S. media texts that tell the story of how the nation procures, uses, and abuses illicit narcotics. However, according to countless examples from American popular culture, Latinxs are natural participants of the transnational narcotics trade and, to some, the instigators of America’s drug problems. This talk posits that scholars and students of Latinx studies must take these modes of representation seriously and that this process must begin by looking closely at how, exactly, Latinx drug narratives circulate in U.S. popular culture. First, it will show the ways that Latinx villians are as old as the film medium itself and that many of of the tropes that audiences associate with Latinx criminality have been in place for more than a century. Second, building on that historical overview, this talk will examine the most recent cycle of Latinx drug films and series, focusing on those embedded in the so-called “Prestige Television” movement (series like Breaking Bad and Narcos) to argue that we are entering a period of renewed cultural interest in Latinxs’ roles in the international drug trade.

Past Events 2016 - 17

Nathan Wolff, Tufts University
Desire, Disgust, Democracy (Henry Adams vs. Walt Whitman)
Nadia Nurhussein, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Claude McKay's New Novel and Harlem's Response to the War in Ethiopia
Imani Perry, Princeton University
Looking for Lorraine: Hansberry's Queer Archive
Ju Yon Kim, Harvard University
"The Face Behind the Paper": Race, Casting, and Suspicion in Julia Cho's The Piano Teacher
Leonard Von Morze, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Did the Early U.S. Have a Multilingual Public Sphere?

Past Events 2015 - 16

Deak Nabers, Brown University
Thoreau, Douglass, Harpers Ferry, and the Aesthetic Mechanics of Emancipation
Kevin Ohi, Boston College
Revision, Origin, and the Courage of Truth: Henry James's New York Edition Prefaces
Carrie Hyde, University of California, Los Angeles
The Speculative Constitution of Early US Citizenship
Nicole Aljoe, Northeastern University
The Memoir of Florence Hall and the Long Song of the Caribbean Colonial Archives
William Huntting Howell, Boston University
The Occasion of Anthony Burns
Robin Kelsey, Harvard University
Ted Serios (who?) and the Death of Modernism

Past Events 2014 - 15

Nancy Cott, Harvard University
The Accidental Internationalist: A 1920s Counternarrative of Americans Abroad
Murray Forman, Northeastern University
Old Flow: Negotiating Age and Aging in Hip-Hop
Elisa Tamarkin, University of California, Berkeley
Art and Fallacy: A Story of Red Herrings
Gene Jarrett, Boston University
Agency, Literacy, Slavery: The Limits of African American Literary Studies
Joseph Rezek, Boston University
What are the Standard Novels? Thoughts on Richard Bentley’s Transatlantic Editions
Theo Davis, Northeastern University
Whitman and Ornamental Distinction

Past Events 2013 - 14

Michael Warner, Yale University
The Evangelical Black Atlantic: Wheatley and Marrant
Kate Marshall, University of Notre Dame
Novels by Aliens: Nonhuman Narration and American Realism
Steven Biel, Harvard University
The Deer Hunter Debate: Artistic License and Vietnam War Remembrance
Maurice Lee, Boston University
Carrying Out the Wealth of the Indies: Emerson’s Many Books
Jennifer Roberts, Harvard University
Reversing American Painting: Print and the Force of Inversion in Nineteenth-Century Trompe-l'oeil
Lisa Lowe, Tufts University
Ruses of Liberty, and the Social Life of Empire

Past Events 2012 - 13

Jill Lepore, Harvard University
“The Ladies’ Library: Or, Benjamin Franklin’s Sister’s Books”
Kimberly Juanita Brown, Northeastern University
"Engendering Fury: Visuality and Retrieval in the Works of Lucille Clifton and June Jordan"
Robert Chodat, Boston University
“That Horeb, That Kansas: Gilead, Evolution, and Why I Act”
Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Northeastern University
"Kinship Imagined and Unimagined: The Atlantic Origins of the Novel"
Christopher Castiglia, Pennsylvania State University
“The Practices of Hope: Cold War Melancholy and the Americanist Future”
John T. Matthews, Boston University
"Faulkner to Film in the Fifties"