Canadian Review of American Studies – Volume 41, Number 2 / August 2011 is now available at
This issue contains:
“The Persistence of Myth: Written Authority in the Wake of New World Discovery” examines how classical authorities continued to influence scientific knowledge in the early modern period in spite of the emergence of more experiential and empirical methods of cosmography. Demonstrating that experiential evidence from travel literature and material evidence from the burgeoning culture of collection often endorsed rather than displaced myth, the paper argues that the preservation of myth is not a facile protection of power relations but is representative of how material reality is inherently connected to and supported by mythical structures. The paper performs a temporal short circuit, suggesting not that an impoverished early modern science failed to understand the significance of empirical evidence but that the emerging discourse of science sought a mutually sympathetic relationship among art, myth, and empirical evidence.
Literary artefacts are more than commemorations of beloved literary characters and scenes: they significantly help to shape our identities as national and cultural subjects. Hannah Duston’s seventeenth-century captivity narrative offers a fascinating example of how one narrative can be reproduced in many shapes and forms in order to support concepts of cultural and national identity. Her two-page narrative was first published in 1697 by Cotton Mather but eventually spawned several print text versions, a shoe company, a commemorative Jim Beam whiskey decanter, and a plethora of dime-a-dozen artefacts. Despite this vast number of visual and print reproductions, only one aspect of her narrative is repeatedly generated: Duston’s slaughter and subsequent scalping of her Indigenous captors. I argue that Duston’s captivity narrative successfully travels from seventeenth-century Puritan print culture to contemporary mass culture because her narrative consistently supports colonial and neo-colonial ideals, respectively, concerning American identity and national duty.
Exploring the durability of feelings, and the relationship of feelings to publics, the first part of this paper maintains that the multiplicity of contradictory means for engaging the terms “public” and “feelings” indexes precisely the conflicts that are constitutive of publics and feelings. The fights over terminology, I argue, are not something to resolve but something to understand, as part of what makes publics and feelings the important, exciting, and sometimes frustrating things they are to practise, experience, and study. In the second part of the paper, I ask questions about the durability of feelings in relation to one of the most durable, public, and disturbing feelings: that joy associated with blackface minstrelsy that is an expression of, and a practice of, white supremacy, which itself is, perhaps, the most enduring form of public feeling, cultural practice, and political aspiration in the history of the United States.
Peter Robert Brown
This essay examines the durability of Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs, one of Los Angeles’s earliest punk bands. Crash committed suicide in 1980, but he and the Germs continue to fascinate those familiar with their music and story. This ongoing interest is the result of numerous factors, including the Germs’ music, Crash’s disturbing worldview and charisma, and our more general obsession with celebrity and death. After offering a brief account of Crash’s life and his involvement with the Germs, I discuss his largely closeted queerness, one of the apparent reasons behind his suicide; I consider the idea of authenticity and its importance in the ideology of rock and punk. Then, I contextualize Crash in the culture of the United States and Los Angeles in the late 1970s.
This article investigates the relationship between the concepts of freedom and confinement and the metaphor of “the road” in the works of three significant American cultural figures. A close analysis of the formal elements of the poetry of Walt Whitman, the novels of John Steinbeck, and the songs of Bruce Springsteen reveals a negation at the core of durability. These narratives pit characters, readers, and listeners against the ideology of freedom that structures road narratives and American durability. Whitman’s version of the road is open and apparently available to all, whereas Steinbeck’s version inverts these terms, making the road a place of oppression and confinement. Beginning to unveil these contradictions, Springsteen’s music grasps the weight and emptiness of the road as a cultural signifier. Finally, the article argues that only through collective thought and action within and against the contradictions inherent in durability can we stop simply persisting and start living.
The election of Barack Obama could not help but alter what Charles Johnson calls the “black American narrative.” This paper focuses on the endurance of the black American masculine narrative over time, how it may have changed, and what might be at stake for its future in light of Obama’s election. The black American masculine narrative brings with it different implications than those in play for “black America” (however defined) more generally, including the laws of unintended consequences that find some critics looking back nostalgically to the days of segregation. The paper considers whether or not “politician” might be added to the short list of potential career aspirations for African American men and whether or not such an addition would count as progress.
This essay reviews two collections of essays (Hawthorne and the Real: Bicentennial Essays, edited by Millicent Bell, and The Cambridge Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Richard Millington) and Brenda Wineapple’s Hawthorne: A Life. These books raise questions about the currency of late-twentieth-century reassessments of Hawthorne’s significance: is “our” Hawthorne still to be read as an anxious conservative, tainted by sexist, racist, and nationalist ideologies? The collections offer various responses to this question but reveal a broadly recuperative tendency. Critics no longer blame Hawthorne for the way that modernist (especially New Critical) literary histories canonized him. Though the political topics that New Historicists first scrutinized in Hawthorne’s fiction continue to preoccupy, they no longer point invariably to the limits of Hawthorne’s moral, political, and cultural consciousness. Like the collections, Wineapple’s biography complicates our picture of Hawthorne’s politics (including gender politics) and values his earnest, often conflicted responses to social change.
Submissions to Canadian Review of American Studies
The Canadian Review of American Studies is published three times a year. The journal publishes articles, review articles, and short reviews; its purpose is to further multi- and interdisciplinary analyses of the culture of the United States and of the social relations between the United States and Canada. The journal invites contributions, in English and French, from authors in all relevant scholarly disciplines related to the study of the United States, and the United States and Canada, as well as to the borders “in-between.” The Canadian Review of American Studies has an international standing, attracting submissions and participation from many countries in North America and Europe.
Recently, the journal has received and published articles from the following disciplines: Anthropology, English, History, American Studies, Canadian Studies, Political Science, Sociology, Communication, Law, African-American Studies, Religious Studies, Economics, Fine Arts, Cultural Studies, and Humanities.
For submission guidelines, please visit www.utpjournals.com/CRAS or contact us at:
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