Multicultural Poetics: Re-visioning the American Canon

SUNY Press
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 Argues that multiculturalism and hybridity are key components of the nation’s poetry and its culture.
Multicultural Poetics provides a new perspective on American poetry that will contribute to the evolution of contemporary critical practice. Nissa Parmar combines formalist analysis with cultural studies theory to trace a lineage of hybrid poetry from the American Renaissance to what Marilyn Chin deemed America’s “multicultural renaissance,” the blossoming of multicultural literature in the 1980s and 1990s. This re-visionary literary history begins by analyzing Whitman and Dickinson as postcolonial poets. This critical approach provides an alternative to the factionalism that has characterized twentieth-century American poetic history and continues to inform literary criticism in the twenty-first century. Parmar uses a multiethnic, multigender method that emphasizes the relationship between American poetic form and cultural development. This book provides a new approach by using hybridity as the critical paradigm for a study that groups multiethnic and emergent authors. It thereby combats literary ghettoization while revealing commonalities across American literatures and the cross-fertilization that has informed their development.

“Parmar demonstrates her mastery of the immense body of scholarship devoted to the poetic lineage Multicultural Poetics engages. She writes with elegance and tact and displays her ability to simplify several concepts—liminality, the third space, interstitiality—of the most confounding of contemporary theorists.” — Donald E. Pease, author of The New American Exceptionalism
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About the author

 Nissa Parmar is Lecturer in Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota and teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is the coeditor (with Anna Hewitt and Alex Goody) of Mapping the Self: Place, Identity, Nationality.

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Additional Information

SUNY Press
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Published on
Dec 21, 2017
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LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General
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Eligible for Family Library

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As the title indicates, three themes of perpetual interest in contemporary cultural studies – place, identity, and nationality – converge in this critical essay collection. While proffering varied and sometimes clashing arguments concerning the title themes, the essays and their authors all assert the importance of the creative text in defining, contesting, and understanding place, identity, and nationality in the modern and contemporary globalised world. The critical frameworks of these essays grow out of the groundbreaking literary and cultural studies theory of the past two decades. However, several of the essays map hitherto unchartered territory by engaging with recent works from emerging authors and a director, and providing new insight into the work of established authors. Beyond mapping new academic terrain, the collection is further distinguished by its global perspective with texts and authors from around the world which come together in a unique multinational dialogue.

The collection is divided into three sections. The first, “Women Writers and Nationalism”, includes essays on Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, Jo Shapcott, and Leila Aboulela. The second, “National Identity and Contemporary Fictions”, examines the role of contemporary fiction in establishing the respective national identities and histories of Wales and Australia. The third, “Transnational Identities”, analyses Partition literature, migrant women’s literature of France and Spain, and film director Shane Meadows’ take on new forms of nationalism. From India, Africa, Europe, Australia, and the United States, the texts and essays crisscross the globe, exploring the relationships between nationality and identity through film, memoir, poetry, and the novel. Some examine national literatures and identities; others focus on the struggle of the individual, particularly the migrant individual, to define his or her identity within a multicultural, multinational framework. Together, the essays register both collective and individual responses to nationality and illustrate new forms of nationalism and identity in the modern and contemporary world.

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