On History and Fantasy: Anglo-American Cultural Memory and Politics of Adaptation

by Dragoș Manea



Historical fantasy – a genre that blends historical reality with elements impossible in their historical periods, such as magic or preposterously advanced technology – affords us new ways of understanding the processes behind the constant remediation of cultural memory by accepting a narrative logic that overtly rejects the paradigm of historical verisimilitude.

In doing so, it allows for an imaginative engagement with the past that is open to radical transformation. Such profound alterations of historical events can also serve to interrogate the grand narratives often associated with them by revealing different, perhaps disturbing potentialities – what could have preferably happened and what has thankfully not.

The Political Imagination of Thomas Pynchon’s Later Novels

by Diana Benea



This book is an attempt to illuminate the ways in which Thomas Pynchon’s later novels – Vineland (1990), Mason & Dixon (1997), Against the Day (2006), Inherent Vice (2009), and Bleeding Edge (2013) – configure a vibrant political imagination, which marks a significant departure from the paranoid and entropic vision of his earlier (high postmodernist) works.

The more recent novels invite reflection on a series of issues invested with a significant ethical and political dimension, committing themselves to a vocabulary that foregrounds the values of community, social justice, relationality, and interdependence. By placing this corpus in conversation with influential works in contemporary (political) philosophy — in particular, late Foucault and late Derrida — this study argues that the subtle shift of sensibility at the heart of Pynchon’s later fiction is most visible in its re-envisioning of the relation of the self to the Other in more hospitable terms.

Reviewed by Scott McClintock for Orbit: A Journal of American Literature 7.1 (2019), Open Library of Humanities, UK. https://doi.org/10.16995/orbit.1810


Reviewed by Ali Chetwynd, “Late Pynchon Theorized: A Review of Diana Benea, The Political Imagination of Thomas Pynchon’s Later Novels, and Sean Carswell, Occupy Pynchon: Politics after Gravity’s Rainbow.” American, British and Canadian Studies, Vol. 33 (2019): 233-243.

Between History and Personal Narrative – East European Women’s Stories of Migration in the New Millenium

Ed. Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru, Mădălina Nicolaescu, Helen Smith



This book presents a broad spectrum of studies focusing on fiction, graphic narratives, photography, online forums and interviews.

The contributions engage with important aspects of women’s mobility and migration in the aftermath of communism. Thus the book covers untrodden ground in Eastern European studies, feminism and transnationalism, and is a highly welcome intervention in the field of transnational feminism.

The essays in this collection focus on a wide variety of fictional and non-fictional East European women’s migration narratives (by Dubravka Ugresi’c, Slavenka Drakuli’c, Vesna Goldsworthy, Iva Pekárková, Ioana Baetica Morpurgo and Marina Lewycka), multimodal narratives by migrant artists (Nina Bunjevac and Svetlana Boym) and cybernarratives (blogs and personal stories posted on forums). They negotiate the concept of narrative between conventional literary forms, digital discourses and the social sciences, and bring in new perspectives on strategies of representation, trauma, dislocation, and gender roles. They also claim a place for Eastern Europe on the map of transnational feminism.

Mapping Generations of Traumatic Memory in American Narratives

Ed. Dana Mihăilescu, Roxana Oltean, Mihaela Precup



This volume collects work by several European, North American, and Australian academics who are interested in examining the performance and transmission of post-traumatic memory in the contemporary United States. The contributors depart from the interpretation of trauma as a unique exceptional event that shatters all systems of representation, as seen in the writing of early trauma theorists like Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman, and Dominick LaCapra. Rather, the chapters in this collection are in conversation with more recent readings of trauma such as Michael Rothberg’s “multidirectional memory” (2009), the role of mediation and remediation in the dynamics of cultural memory (Astrid Erll, 2012; Aleida Assman, 2011), and Stef Craps’ focus on “postcolonial witnessing” and its cross-cultural dimension (2013).

The corpus of post-traumatic narratives under discussion includes fiction, diaries, memoirs, films, visual narratives, and oral testimonies. A complicated dialogue between various and sometimes conflicting narratives is thus generated and examined along four main lines in this volume: trauma in the context of “multidirectional memory”; the representation of trauma in autobiographical texts; the dynamic of public forms of national commemoration; and the problematic instantiation of 9/11 as a traumatic landmark.

Eastern European Jewish American Narratives, 1890–1930 – Struggles for Recognition

by Dana Mihăilescu



The compelling argument of Eastern European Jewish American Narratives, 1890–1930: Struggles for Recognition is that narratives of Eastern European Jewish Americans are important discourses offering a response to America’s norms of assimilation, rationalized progress, and control in the early twentieth century under the guise of commitment to the specificity of individual experiences. The book sheds light on how these texts suggest an alternative ethical agency which encompasses both mainstream and minority practices, and which capitalizes on the need of keeping alive individual responsibility and vulnerability as the only means to actually create a democratic culture. In that, this book opens up novel areas of inquiry and research for both the academic world and the social and cultural fields, facilitating the rediscovery of long-neglected Eastern European Jewish American writers and the rethinking of the more familiar authors addressed.

Romantic Renderings of Selfhood in Classic American Literature

by Anca Peiu



Romantic Renderings of Selfhood in Classic American Literature is the complete form of Anca Peiu’s book on eleven masters of American literature. The previous volume entitled Five Versions of Selfhood in 19th Century American Literature represents the author’s first step toward the accomplishment of her literary studies gathered here.
The new book consists of two sections: the former one titled “Selfhood in/or Poetry,” dealing with five foremost authors who laid the foundations of American poetry; and the second section called “Selfhood in/or Story-Telling,” containing essays on the main works of six emblematic American masters of fiction.
Anca Peiu’s present book is meant for students of philology, in the first place; likewise, for those high-school pupils interested in American culture and its classic writers; and, last but not least, for those readers who are still fond of the American literary canon, and also aware of its undeniable impact upon our own approach of the contemporary world.
In Romania, all the eleven American writers discussed here – E. A. Poe, R. W. Emerson, H. D. Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Kate Chopin – are part of any syllabus bibliography for the study of American literature. Therefore our return today to these American masterpieces of universal literature acquires an enhanced significance.

Literature and Cultural Memory

Ed. Mihaela Irimia, Andreea Paris and Dragoş Manea



Cultural Memory, a subtle and comprehensive process of identity formation, promotion and transmission, is considered as a set of symbolic practices and protocols, with particular emphasis on repositories of memory and the institutionalized forms in which they are embodied. High and low culture as texts embedded in the texture of memory, as well as material culture as a communal receptacle and reservoir of memory are analysed in their historical contingency. Symbolic representations of accepted and counter history/ies, and the cultural nodes and mechanisms of the cultural imaginary are also issues of central interest. Twenty-six contributions tackle these topics from a theoretical and historical perspective and bring to the fore case studies illustrating the interdisciplinary agenda that underlies the volume.

Contributors: Luis Manuel A.V. Bernardo, Lina Bolzoni, Peter Burke, Pia Brinzeu, Adina Ciugureanu, Thomas Docherty, Christoph Ehland, Herbert Grabes, László Gyapay, Donna Landry, Christoph Lehner, Gerald MacLean, Dragoş Manea, Daniel Melo, Mirosława Modrzewska, Rareş Moldovan, C.W.R.D. Mosely, Petruţa Năiduţ, Francesca Orestano, Maria Lúcia G. Pallares-Burke, Andreea Paris, Leonor Santa Bárbara, Hans-Peter Söder, Jukka Tiusanen, Ludmila Volná, Ioana Zirra.

Performance and Performativity in Contemporary Indian Fiction in English

by Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru



This book starts with a consideration of a 1997 issue of the New Yorker that celebrated fifty years of Indian independence, and goes on to explore the development of a pattern of performance and performativity in contemporary Indian fiction in English (Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Vikram Chandra). Such fiction, which constructs identity through performative acts, is built around a nomadic understanding of the self and implies an evolution of narrative language towards performativity whereby the text itself becomes nomadic. A comparison with theatrical performance (Peter Brook’s Mahabharata and Girish Karnad’s ‘theatre of roots’) serves to support the argument that in both theatre and fiction the concepts of performance and performativity transform classical Indian mythic poetics. In the mythic symbiosis of performance and storytelling in Indian tradition within a cyclical pattern of estrangement from and return to the motherland and/or its traditions, myth becomes a liberating space of consciousness, where rigid categories and boundaries are transcended.

LOCAL REPRESENTATION AND GLOBAL PERSEPECTIVE IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICAN LITERARY CULTURE

by Roxana Oltean



The four writers selected here – Frederick Douglas, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Henry James – illustrate in a particularly compelling manner the sometimes contradictory, other times complementary impulse towards, on the one hand, a local American context and, on the other hand, a vision of the global or cosmopolitan settings of identity-forming episodes.

The Graphic Lives of Fathers – Memory, Representation, and Fatherhood in North American Autobiographical Comics

by Precup Mihaela


This book explores the representation of fatherhood in contemporary North American autobiographical comics that depict paternal conduct from the post-war period up to the present. It offers equal space to autobiographical comics penned by daughters who represent their fathers’ complicated and often disappointing behavior, and to works by male cartoonists who depict and usually celebrate their own experiences as fathers. This book asks questions about how the desire to forgive or be forgiven can compromise the authors’ ethics or dictate style, considers the ownership of life stories whose subjects cannot or do not agree to be represented, and investigates the pervasive and complicated effects of dominant masculinities. By close reading these cartoonists’ complex strategies of (self-)representation, this volume also places photography and archival work alongside the problematic legacy of self-deprecation carried on from underground comics, and shows how the vocabulary of graphic narration can work with other media and at the intersection of various genres and modes to produce a valuable scrutiny of contemporary norms of fatherhood.