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Market Aesthetics

Market Aesthetics: The Purchase of the Past in Caribbean Diasporic Fiction

Elena Machado Sáez
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Market Aesthetics
    Book Description:

    InMarket Aesthetics,Elena Machado Sáez explores the popularity of Caribbean diasporic writing within an interdisciplinary, comparative, and pan-ethnic framework. She contests established readings of authors such as Junot Díaz, Julia Alvarez, Edwidge Danticat, and Robert Antoni while showcasing the work of emerging writers such as David Chariandy, Marlon James, and Monique Roffey. By reading these writers as part of a transnational literary trend rather than within isolated national ethnic traditions, the author is able to show how this fiction adopts market aesthetics to engage the mixed blessings of multiculturalism and globalization via the themes of gender and sexuality.

    New World StudiesModern Language Initiative

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3706-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Marketing Multicultural Ethnics, Promoting Postcolonial Ethics
    (pp. 1-18)

    An ethical imperative to write historical counternarratives informs the contemporary phenomenon of a boom in historical fiction by multicultural authors in Britain, Canada, and the United States. The critical reception often discounts the literariness of such writing because of its popularity, but the market success of ethnic historical fiction offers unique insight into the pressures that the genre encounters, particularly in relation to the book market and public discourses of multiculturalism.¹ I anchor my analysis in the cultural specificity and rhetorical locality of the Caribbean diaspora, while also outlining the contributions such authors make to the broader field of multicultural...

  5. 1 Mixed Blessings: Readerships, Postcolonial Ethics, and the Problem of Intimacy
    (pp. 19-45)

    As my introduction discussed, the genre of historical fiction poses challenges to the dominant understandings of globalization in the humanities. Caribbean diasporic fiction is especially attuned to the contradictions accompanying a contextually minded product entering a decontextualizing marketplace. InVoicing Memory(2003), Nick Nesbitt reminds us that in the contemporary public sphere, “once repressed” historical contexts are “no longer absent” but have become “commodit[ies] offered up in newspapers; on local television; in annual commemorations” (6). While Nesbitt is specifically referring to the way cultural institutions deploy the history of slavery as an empty commodity, he also accepts the broader implications...

  6. 2 Kinship Routes: Contextualizing Diaspora via the Market in Andrea Levy and David Chariandy
    (pp. 46-81)

    The mainstreaming of multiculturalism is an important context for understanding the market aesthetics of Caribbean diasporic historical fiction, particularly in terms of public policies intended to contain the perceived threats of ethnic communities (for example, the 1981 British Nationality Act or the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act). Caribbean diasporic historical novels often contextualize the diasporic community as an ethnic minority within Britain, Canada, or the United States by depicting the effects of multiculturalism’s co-optation. In chapter 1, I referred to this pedagogical approach as historicizing the ahistorical, where the novels depict how the discourse of multiculturalism erases the histories of colonialism...

  7. 3 Writing the Reader: Literacy and Contradictory Pedagogies in Julia Alvarez, Michelle Cliff, and Marlon James
    (pp. 82-119)

    Postcolonial ethics that aim to teach the reader about Caribbean history are key to the aesthetic design of Caribbean diasporic historical novels that exemplify the traditional defining qualities of the genre. The pedagogical imperative is primarily expressed through the genre of realism, illuminating a previously marginalized aspect of Caribbean history or challenging the dominant narrative about a historical period or figure. Junot Díaz’s footnotes inOscar Waoare overt examples of this contextualization strategy, an academic mode of providing historical context for the reader who is ignorant of Dominican history. More commonly, writers provide a descriptive gloss to communicate historical...

  8. 4 Messy Intimacies: Postcolonial Romance in Ana Menéndez, Dionne Brand, and Monique Roffey
    (pp. 120-153)

    Caribbean diasporic historical fiction engages with anticolonialism as a historical and rhetorical legacy from the home island that shapes the diaspora and the Global North. The historical novelsLoving Che(2003),In Another Place, Not Here(1997), andThe White Woman on the Green Bicycle(2009) signal how anticolonial discourses about politics and revolution continue to have purchase in the contemporary moment. Additionally, the postcolonial romances of Ana Menéndez, Dionne Brand, and Monique Roffey explore the problem of gender and historiography. Focusing in on the Great Men narrative of anticolonial history by highlighting the figures of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and...

  9. 5 Dictating Diaspora: Gendering Postcolonial Violence in Junot Díaz and Edwidge Danticat
    (pp. 154-196)

    Junot Díaz’sThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao(2007) and Edwidge Danticat’sThe Dew Breaker(2004) are historical novels whose narrative forms seek to mimic the diversity of the Caribbean diasporas they depict.Oscar Wao’sdiscursive heterogeneity incorporates black urban slang, Spanglish, comic books, and science fiction, whileDew Breakerfocuses on a diasporic community orphaned by postcolonial violence, alternating between the perspectives of the Tonton Macoutes and their male and female victims. The multiple discourses in Díaz’s and Danticat’s novels call to mind Timothy Brennan’s description of the novel as a genre that “mimic[s] the structure of the...

  10. Conclusion: Electronic Archives and the Digital Futures of Caribbean Diasporic Writing
    (pp. 197-212)

    Caribbean diasporic historical fiction offers a comparative vision of the past via narratives that are intimately wedded to the present, informed by the interrelated systems of globalization and multiculturalism. The postcolonial imperative of ethically depicting Caribbean history and subjectivities comes into conflict with the horizon of expectation created by reader reception, and this creative tension inspires the market aesthetics of Caribbean diasporic writing. The newest area where the shaping forces of market aesthetics can be seen is in the shift from print to digital. The paradox of globalization, with the mixed blessing of global access paired with commodification, of community...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 213-228)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-244)
  13. Index
    (pp. 245-250)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-252)