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Title page for ETD etd-08182014-125941

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Campana, Alessandra
Author's Email Address alexandra.campana@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-08182014-125941
Title Violent, Black Oceans. Literary Border Crossings in a Global Age, 1990-2005.
Degree PhD
Department German
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Professor Meike Werner Committee Chair
Professor Barbara Hahn Committee Member
Professor James McFarland Committee Member
Professor William Franke Committee Member
  • globalization; comparative literature; literary studies; humanities; Herta Müller; Gish Jen; Hugo Lo
Date of Defense 2014-08-15
Availability unrestricted
This is an investigation into contemporary literary reactions to the oftentimes violent aspects of globalization, under the overarching theme of border crossings. My textual analyses are grounded in an extensive theoretical and multidisciplinary background. In the course of contextualizing the chosen literary texts, I bring together the following authors, who vary in the degree of recognition they have received as well as in their linguistic backgrounds: Herta Müller (German), Gish Jen (English), Hugo Loetscher (German), Martin R. Dean (German), Habib Tengour (French), and Ian McEwan (English).

By taking into account both implicit and explicit forms of violence, I dedicate each chapter to a specific type of border crossing – migration, intercultural communication, multicultural identities, military invasion – while historically moving from the fall of the Iron Curtain to the spread of the internet, and from the turn of the millennium to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Global in their thematic reach, the literary aesthetics that I address unfold in the context of various cultural horizons that include the countries of Algeria, China, France, Germany, Romania, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Although not a new phenomenon, present-day globalization has clearly caused our world to appear more connected than ever before, and the experience of witnessing as well as undertaking border crossings has become a vital pillar of the contemporary human condition. To adequately respond to our multidimensional social reality, writers need to generate innovative forms of narration that capture the essence of our postmodern experience. In order to express a multitude of simultaneous perspectives and truths, the borderlines of conventionality have to be overwritten. Thus, the crossing of borders also becomes an artistic method that gives rise to literary aesthetics that relate to their societal context in terms of both content and form. An analysis of these reality-oriented aesthetics not only brings about a redefinition of postmodern writing but also establishes anew literature’s unceasing relevance in a world that is driven by a public discourse of ongoing negotiations.

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