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Revolutionary Futures: Romance and the Limits of Transnational Forms 1910-1986

  • Author(s): Hudson, Renee Lynn
  • Advisor(s): Goyal, Yogita
  • et al.
Abstract

“Revolutionary Futures” examines the revolutionary unconscious of American literature. While revolution shapes American national identity, it also threatens that identity as evidenced by American support for oppressive regimes such as Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship in the Philippines. Despite this fraught relationship, there is, I contend, a persistent preoccupation with revolution in its literature. This unease reveals itself through genre, itself productive of futurity and national imaginaries in the prose of authors as varied as Richard Wright, Cormac McCarthy, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot D?az. This dissertation rethinks heterosexual romance as the paradigmatic frame for the nation by drawing upon recent queer theory to investigate how failures of romance offer new models of kinship. By resisting the prevailing understanding of romance as allegory, my project untangles more complicated, unsettled ways of imagining the future. The authors I consider create new models for political futures that do not rely on teleological conceptions of time, but, instead, are open-ended and generate new forms of historicity. With such innovative kinship models driving conceptions of the future, each novel posits a different national imaginary that reconsiders the relationship between kinship and the state. By analyzing revolutions that engage with the history of Spanish colonization and American intervention, such as the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), the Filipino People Power Revolution (1986), and the Dominican Republic under the dictator Trujillo (1930-1961), I track how these revolutions are central to American literature, and prove the distinction between center and periphery to be illusory. In this way, my dissertation brings together literary criticism, critical race theory, and queer studies. More specifically, it reshapes how transnationalism and hemispheric studies conceptualize American literature by building upon earlier work on majority and minority literatures as well as multiculturalism.

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