Not India, in which Alejo Carpentier and Zora Neale Hurston finally discover America

  • Author / Creator
    Katz, Marco
  • This dissertation argues for the potential of an American politics built on identities, cultures, and faith. Works by two Caribbean authors, Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980) and Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), provide central connections throughout these considerations while demonstrating how disparate people consider themselves American without losing their differences. Chapter one examines faith as enunciated in Carpentier’s explanation of American Marvelous Realism and as practiced in Hurston’s novels. According to these works, credence in America comes not from governmental attempts at continental unity, which too often leads to domination, but instead arises out of cultural endeavors that transcend political boundaries. Music in the second chapter exemplifies American cultural practice by boldly going where politicians fear to tread, resonating throughout the continent with sounds that typify specific regions while remaining strongly connected to one another. A backbeat, for example, that reveals musical connections between swing and vallenato does not negate the individuality of, respectively, Kansas City or Baranquilla. The third chapter considers Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s employment of Area Studies competencies in studies of Comparative Literature. In this case, specific applications of biology and music history apply to cultural studies of the Americas. Recent studies in genetics that trace similarities in all humans also reveal America as a site of greatest biological differentiation. Following ideas put forth by Spivak, Homi Bhabha, and Néstor García Canclini, this deconstructive approach to cultural studies concludes in the fourth chapter with an American politics that does not merely reverse established patterns of domination but instead emulates American cultural practices with the potential to make hegemonic readings irrelevant.

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  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
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  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Brennan, Timothy Andres (Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota)
    • Young, Richard (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Cisneros, Odile (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Simpson, Mark (English and Film Studies)