Revisioning America

I heard (and introduced) a great talk today on Re-Inventing our approach to hemispheric studies. Of course some of the potential pitfalls include reinscribing the Monroe Doctrine at this late date by using US as a location to launch hemispheric studies and the possibility for ignoring the conditions that made the Monroe Doctrine come into existence (ie, ignore European and other influences on the hemisphere). But I think at the very end of this discussion about how hemispheric studies move our discipline outside of the periods in literature, we come to something very interesting: the possibility to teach our students based on genre or theme and show how the BIG IMPORTANT UNIVERSAL themes aren’t limited to blue blooded New Englanders. In some ways I’m trying to do this too with my dissertation, although maybe the only chapter that is truly hemispheric is the one that does engage a blue blooded Yankee–Stephen Crane and his forays into Mexico.

Some examples given today included Absalom, Absalom! by Faulkner and how in this text the West Indies (Haiti) I think factor into the narrative as a significant condition for the fate of the characters. Can you think of other texts that we think of as canonical that in fact engage hemispheric discourse on a larger scale?


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