NameKim, Eui Young (author), DeKoven, Marianne (chair), Edwards, Brent Hayes (internal member), Mathes, Carter (internal member), Eng, David L (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
Literature, Experimental--United States,
Marginality, Social, in literature
DescriptionThis dissertation theorizes the crucial role of the essay in contemporary American literary experimentalism. A genre of transitivity, the essay resists the ideals of totalization and closure. While this has historically relegated the essay to the margins of literature, it has also made it amenable to extensions and creative re-workings during the latter half of the twentieth century. Central to its resurgence is the way it invites generic exchanges and mixes of heterogeneous elements that put pressure on discursive boundaries between knowledge and art, art and criticism, the literary and the non-literary. The essay incites the active testing of limits. Within the national context of the United States, the extended essays by marginal writers critique enlightenment concepts of the nation-state sustained by closed orders of identity and signification. I focus on five writers who articulate the formal concerns of essayism and the ethical concerns of heterogeneity. Chapter One explores James Baldwin’s use of breaks and cuts that merges the critical form of the essay with African diasporic expressive practices. Chapter Two examines the hybrid texts by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and Gloria Anzaldúa written from the margins of the nation and embodying the difficulties of cultural and linguistic intersections. In Chapter Three, I discuss the innovative serial prose work by Nathaniel Mackey through which he upholds improvisation as one of the oldest and newest strategies of living with heterogeneity. Chapter Four considers Susan Howe’s aesthetics of the archive that experiments with new ways of reading and writing history, allowing the poet-essayist to pursue the nonconformist strain in American literature. Each text seeks to extend expressivity while reaffirming the new world possibilities. I argue that the essay and essayistic strategies assist these writers’ search for greater openness in form and spirit.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Eui Young Kim
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.