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James Baldwin and the "Closeted-ness" of American Power
David Jones

This article reads the work of James Baldwin in dialogue with that of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Taking its cue from Baldwin’s claim that Americans “live […] with something in [their] closet” that they “pretend […] is not there,” it explores his depiction of a United States characterized by the “closeted-ness” of its racial discourse. In doing so, the article draws on Sedgwick’s work concerning how the containment of discourses pertaining to sexuality hinges on the closeting of non-heteronormative sexual practices. Reconceptualizing Sedgwick’s ideas in the context of a black, queer writer like Baldwin, however, problematizes her own insistence on the “historical gay specificity” of the epistemology she traces. To this end, this article does not simply posit a racial counterpart to the homosexual closet. Rather, reflecting Baldwin’s insistence that “the sexual question and the racial question have always been entwined,” I highlight here the interpretive possibilities opened up by intersectional analyses that view race, sexuality, and national identity as coextensive, reciprocal epistemologies.  

James Baldwin Review
Searching for Black Queer Domesticity at Chez Baldwin
Magdalena J. Zaborowska

This essay argues for the importance of James Baldwin’s last house, located in St. Paul-de-Vence in the south of France, to his late works written during the productive period of 1971–87: No Name in the Street (1972), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), The Devil Finds Work (1976), Just Above My Head (1979), The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), and the unpublished play The Welcome Table (1987). That period ushered in a new Baldwin, more complex and mature as an author, who became disillusioned while growing older as a black queer American who had no choice but to live abroad to get his work done and to feel safe. Having established his most enduring household at “Chez Baldwin,” as the property was known locally, the writer engaged in literary genre experimentation and challenged normative binaries of race, gender, and sexuality with his conceptions of spatially contingent national identity. The late Baldwin created unprecedented models of black queer domesticity and humanism that, having been excluded from U.S. cultural narratives until recently, offer novel ways to reconceptualize what it means to be an American intellectual in the twenty-first-century world.

James Baldwin Review
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Orphanhood, kinship, and cultural memory in contemporary American novels

Making Home explores the orphan child as a trope in contemporary US fiction, arguing that in times of perceived national crisis concerns about American identity, family, and literary history are articulated around this literary figure. The book focuses on orphan figures in a broad, multi-ethnic range of contemporary fiction by Barbara Kingsolver, Linda Hogan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Marilynne Robinson, Michael Cunningham, Jonathan Safran Foer, John Irving, Kaye Gibbons, Octavia Butler, Jewelle Gomez, and Toni Morrison. It also investigates genres as carriers of cultural memory, looking particularly at the captivity narrative, historical fiction, speculative fiction, the sentimental novel, and the bildungsroman. From a decisively literary perspective, Making Home engages socio-political concerns such as mixed-race families, child welfare, multiculturalism, and racial and national identity, as well as shifting definitions of familial, national, and literary home. By analyzing how contemporary novels both incorporate and resist gendered and raced literary conventions, how they elaborate on symbolic and factual meanings of orphanhood, and how they explore kinship beyond the nuclear and/or adoptive family, this book offers something distinctly new in American literary studies. It is a crucial study for students and scholars interested in the links between literature and identity, questions of inclusion and exclusion in national ideology, and definitions of family and childhood.

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Eating, cooking, reading and writing in British women’s fiction, 1770–1830
Author: Sarah Moss

The study of food in literature complicates established critical positions. Both a libidinal pleasure and the ultimate commodity, food in fiction can represent sex as well as money, and brings the body and the marketplace together in ways that are sometimes obvious and sometimes unsettling. This book explores these relations in the context of late eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century women's fiction, where concerns about bodily, economic and intellectual productivity and consumption power decades of novels, conduct books and popular medicine. The introduction suggests ways in which attention to food in these texts might complicate recent developments in literary theory and criticism, while the body of the book is devoted to close readings of novels and children's stories by Frances Burney, Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth and Susan Ferrier. Burney and Wollstonecraft explore the ways in which eating and not eating (mis)represent women's sexuality, and consider how women's intellectual and economic productivity might disrupt easy equations between appetites at the table and in bed. Edgeworth and Ferrier, Anglo-Irish and Scottish writers respectively, are more interested in cooking and eating as ways of enacting and manipulating national identity and class.

Abigail Ward

women entering the country from 1948 has roots in a much earlier period. In the works explored in this chapter, Phillips traces the origins of this attitude, and the related anxieties surrounding national identity. In his novel Cambridge (1991), a white plantation-owner’s daughter finds her English identity thrown into confusion in the creolising space of the unnamed Caribbean island, and a male slave reflects on his life as a ‘virtual Englishman’. In Crossing the River (1993), the black diaspora created by slavery is examined over a two hundred and fifty

in Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D’Aguiar
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Food, family and national identity in Susan Ferrier’s fiction
Sarah Moss

inadequacy or absence of biological parents is taken for granted. Ruth Perry writes in Novel Relations that ‘[t]he “aunt”, being simultaneously both mother and other, solves both the problem of separation and that of identification for the female protagonist’. 3 The aunt as mother figure offers precisely the kind of belonging-at-a-remove, the mixture of consanguinuity and elective affinity, that Ferrier promotes as the future for national identity. Wollstonecraft and, in a very different way, Edgeworth see themselves ‘mothering the nation’ in writing didactic fiction

in Spilling the beans
Intercultural exchanges and the redefinition of identity in Hugo Hamilton’s Disguise and Hand in the Fire
Carmen Zamorano Llena

Ireland the only country in Europe to experience a decline in population growth in the second half of the nineteenth century (Kuhling and Keohane, 2007: 53). Significantly, Mary Robinson’s speech did not delve into the representation of the Great Irish Famine and its consequences as being caused by the British indifference to its neighbouring island, an argument characteristic of the postcolonial discourse on which the twentieth-century construct of Irish national identity was highly dependent.2 On the contrary, Robinson took the commemoration as an opportunity to show

in Literary visions of multicultural Ireland
De-scribing Imperial identity from alien to migrant
Peter Childs

Culture and Imperialism (1993) that the imposition of national identity is implicit in the domestic novel in its boundaries, exclusions, and silences – the Imperial interstices of English society that Said’s contrapuntal reading can reveal by turning the narrative inside out, temporarily centralising its margins. Such emphases on borders, heterogeneity, and reading against the grain require analyses of national identity which move away from binaries of domestic and foreign, native and immigrant, belonging and alienation, and instead consider the people, cultures and

in Across the margins
Matthew Schultz

interrelated yet diverse famine narratives that transgress the traditionally accepted congruence between national boundaries and cultural identities as well as boundaries between past and present Ireland. In doing so, these novels offer new interpretations of the Famine as the founding moment of modern, dispossessed Ireland, and pose attendant questions about Ireland’s (inter)national identity. O’Faolain and O’Connor complicate dominant ideological renditions of Ireland’s Famine narrative by challenging oversimplified historical ‘facts.’ Both novels construct a spectral

in Haunted historiographies
Alison Morgan

ideology of nationalism emerged in the revolutionary fervour of the late eighteenth century, this chapter establishes the nature of English radical nationalism and how the championing of English national identity has resonances with the republicanism of the seventeenth century, the heroes and martyrs of which were a regular presence in the radical press. The nineteenth century witnessed the expansion and global success of the British Empire. Despite the loss of the American colonies in 1783, Great Britain’s victory in the Napoleonic Wars demonstrated to the world the

in Ballads and songs of Peterloo