Transnational American Spaces (BOOK)

deadline for submissions: 
February 29, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Tina Powell / Concord University
contact email: 

As people migrate, they are drawn to the familiar in their need to adapt to the unfamiliar, forming communities whose cohesiveness emanates from shared value systems and experiences. Culturally homogeneous networks constructed by migrant communities in the U.S. both shape and are shaped by the spaces they occupy. From these socially constructed spaces (like Mary Louise Pratt’s contact zones), which can be construed as physical, emotional, intellectual, or creative, immigrant groups negotiate their position in U.S. society. This transnational lens affects both individuals’ perception of their place in society and their success or failure to thrive in this new home. The process by which they envision their home as they create a transnational space is frequently reflected in their artistic and literary expressions. This volume will focus on the ways in which literary texts depict migrant bodies and theircommunal spaces within the context of a sometimes welcoming, sometimes hostile U.S. environment. Building on the work of border theory, contact zones, and postcolonial theories of space and place, we seek to explore literary texts that question, challenge, and deepen our understanding of the experience of migration through their use of space and place. We welcome chapter proposals that explore literary depictions of transnational spaces in the U.S. in the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to the following questions:

  • What are the measures of success within communities? Does assimilation constitute success? Is economic stability the ultimate measure of success? Does the ability to maintain ties to “home” or to support a family left behind determine success?

  • How does this journey affect a person’s sense of identity or self? How does it affect a sense of fitting into a community? Does a successful migration require an adjustment in one’s value system?

  • How does socioeconomic privilege affect the experience of how U.S. space is experienced by travelers? How do tourists who seek out unfamiliar spaces affect the communities they visit? How about tourists seeking out familiar spaces such as recreated ethnic communities?

  • What are the generational gaps in the migrant experience? How do second- or third-generation immigrants experience ethnic communities? Do such communities welcome or disparage these heritage seekers?

  • How are gender and sexuality depicted and perceived in transnational spaces? Is there a change in value systems from one generation to the next? How are gender roles affected by varying cultural lenses, and how do these adapt to a new environment? 

  • How is the construction of “home” defined by refugees in a host country, in refugee camps, or upon return to the homeland? How does the U.S. immigration system affect families and individuals? 

  •  How do we approach multiligüistic texts? What is the effect of a bilingual text on a monolingual reader? Does a liminal narrative create a new, virtual space, and is that space necessary to reflect the realities of a liminal community?

  • How is trauma approached or addressed in transnational texts? What coping mechanisms exist for victims of trauma who have migrated to escape violence? Does the trauma follow them, or is there a respite possible once they have changed location?

Please send a 500 word abstract, along with a short CV, toTina Powell  tpowell@concord.edu and Patricia Sagasti Suppes psuppes@ferrum.edu by 5 pm Feb. 29, 2020.  Chapter drafts will be due June 27, 2020, with feedback returned in mid-August.  Anticipated completion of manuscript will be Fall 2020. Please contact either contact above for questions.