Transatlantic Literature and the Production of National Identities, 1870-1910

full name / name of organization: 
Keridiana Chez
contact email: 

This panel has already been accepted by the Midwest Conference for British Studies, October 8-10, 2010, Cleveland. We are seeking a fourth paper.

Arizona's recent attack on ethnic studies brings to glaring light the relationship between the production of cultures, racial identities, and nations. How are national identities contingent on the constitution of, or at least the appearance of, a homogeneous racial identity, which in turn, is produced and maintained through the vigilant regularization of a distinct national culture?

Querying how literature galvanizes racial solidarities and exclusions towards the establishment of nationalities, this panel takes a transnational approach to American and British literatures at the turn of the twentieth century, a transitional period where the United States increasingly came into its own as a world power. The analogy of the United States as a "child" with limitless potential and "mother" Britain as an aging—perhaps dying—parent became more complicated in the tumultuous and highly self-conscious fin de siècle. Our papers explore how the establishment of discrete "Americanness"—as a cultural and a "racial" identity—happened contra British self-making and vice versa, and how literature provided a site to construct physical and affective "race" markers. Together, we investigate how fin de siècle writings negotiated to what extent the "child" could be a discrete—perhaps superior—"racial" and national identity than its "mother."

Papers already accepted:

  • "Henry James and the Poetics of Authentic Display"
  • "The Stars and Stripes and the British Empire: Anglo-Saxonism and the Problem of the Frontier in Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet and Bram Stoker's Dracula"
  • "The Production of Humaneness through the Pet Dog in English and American Literature"
  • Papers are expected to run for 15 minutes to allow for discussion. Please send a 250-300 word abstract and a 1-page abbreviated CV by June 30th to make it onto the program.

    E-mail proposals in Word/the body of the e-mail to:
    Keridiana Chez, CUNY Graduate Center, kerychez [at]