Literature has always played a central role in creating and
disseminating culturally specific notions of citizenship,
nationhood, and belonging. In Reconfiguring Citizenship and
National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination,
author Kathy-Ann Tan investigates metaphors, configurations,
parameters, and articulations of U.S. and Canadian citizenship that
are enacted, renegotiated, and revised in modern literary texts,
particularly during periods of emergence and crisis. Tan brings
together for the first time a selection of canonical and
lesser-known U.S. and Canadian writings for critical consideration.
She begins by exploring literary depiction of "willful" or
"wayward" citizens and those with precarious bodies that are viewed
as threatening, undesirable, unacceptable-including refugees and
asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, deportees, and stateless
people. She also considers the rights to citizenship and political
membership claimed by queer bodies and an examination of "new" and
alternative forms of citizenship, such as denizenship, urban
citizenship, diasporic citizenship, and Indigenous citizenship.
With case studies based on works by a diverse collection of
authors-including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Djuna Barnes, Etel Adnan,
Sarah Schulman, Walt Whitman, Gail Scott, and Philip Roth-Tan
uncovers alternative forms of collectivity, community, and nation
across a broad range of perspectives. In line with recent
cross-disciplinary explorations in the field, Reconfiguring
Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary
Imagination shows citizenship as less of a fixed or static legal
entity and more as a set of symbolic and cultural practices.
Scholars of literary studies, cultural studies, and citizenship
studies will be grateful for Tan's illuminating study.
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