“Throughout the texts surveyed in Geographies of Identity, aesthetic or formal innovation is used politically in order, among other things, to call on readers to contemplate the impossibility of relegating identity, or it’s representation/narrativization, to singular categories. From Stein to Long Soldier, these writers play with language and textuality, break away from normative expectations, and challenge the idea of narrative (identity) as cohesive and singular and they create models of representation that perform some of the many complex ways subjects identify and narrate — or refuse to narrate — those experiences.”
~ Jill Darling
Geographies of Identity: Narrative Forms, Feminist Futures explores identity and American culture through hybrid, prose work by women, and expands the strategies of cultural poetics practices into the study of innovative narrative writing. Informed by Judith Butler, Homi Bhabha, Harryette Mullen, Julia Kristeva, and others, this project further considers feminist identity politics, race, and ethnicity as cultural content in and through poetic and non/narrative forms. The texts reflected on here explore literal and figurative landscapes, linguistic and cultural geographies, sexual borders, and spatial topographies. Ultimately, they offer non-prescriptive models that go beyond expectations for narrative forms, and create textual webs that reflect the diverse realities of multi-ethnic, multi-oriented, multi-linguistic cultural experiences.
Readings of Gertrude Stein’s A Geographical History of America, Renee Gladman’s Juice, Pamela Lu’s Pamela: A Novel, Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, Juliana Spahr’s The Transformation, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée, Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, and Layli Long Soldier’s WHEREAS show how alternatively narrative modes of writing can expand access to representation, means of identification, and subjective agency, and point to horizons of possibility for new futures. These texts critique essentializing practices in which subjects are defined by specific identity categories, and offer complicated, contextualized, and historical understandings of identity formation through the textual weaving of form and content.
Jill Darling is the author of the poetry collections (re)iteration(s), a geography of syntax, Solve For, begin with may: a series of moments, and a number of chapbooks. Her poetics essays and reviews can be found online at: 1508 The Arizona Poetry Center Blog, Entropy, How2, and Something on Paper. She’s also published essays on teaching and had other creative work in journals including Denver Quarterly, /NOR, Aufgabe, 580 Split, Quarter After Eight, factorial, and others, and in the anthologies Counter-Desecration, Resist Much Obey Little, and Poetic Voices Without Borders. Darling has won awards and residencies from The Academy of American Poets, the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, Spark Box Studio, and The Hambidge Center. She has a Ph.D. in 20th Century American Literature and Cultural Studies and teaches at The University of Michigan-Dearborn.
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