Canadian Review of American Studies Volume 46, Number 3, Winter 2016

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Canadian Review of American Studies
Volume  46, Number 3, Winter 2016


Coming to Terms with the Murderer: Explanatory Mechanisms and Narrative Strategies in Three American Novels with Transgressive Protagonists
John Dale

The attempt to rehabilitate a murdering protagonist is common in American fiction. In naturalist novels this is achieved by ‘explaining’ the crime. However, a parallel strategy involving rehabilitation of the murderer through the manipulation of the reader’s sympathies is also in play. This last achieves greater prominence by mid–twentieth century.

Re-Reading the Portrait and the Archive’s Social Memory
Kalli Paakspuu

This article examines how Amerindians participate agentially in a circuit of contagious experience as portrait subjects of settler artists and photographers like Benjamin West, George Catlin, E. S. Curtis, and others. Embodiment in a portrait is a dialogical and iterative bridge that enables the subject to contextualize an address to the home community through religion, kinship, or culture.

Narrative and Numbers: Edward Bellamy, Tony Judt, and the Political Economy of Inequality in the United States
Bruce Tucker and Nadia Timperio

This article analyzes two commentaries on the problem of inequality in American life: Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel Looking Backward: 2000–1887 (1888) and historian Tony Judt’s social scientific Ill Fares the Land (2010). Both texts address the causes and consequences of inequality in the distribution of income, but they also raise the larger problem of framing inequality in American political discourse. Drawing on a vast body of literature produced by social scientists and journalists in the wake of the 2008 crash and subsequent recession, the authors suggest that we may have exhausted the utility of economic regulation by nation states, and they advocate a move to a more global understanding of the origins of structural inequality and its remediation.

Of Geography and Race: Some Reflections on the Relative Involvement of the Discipline of Geography in the Spatiality of People of Colour in the United States
Elyes Hanafi

This article examines the approach of the discipline of human geography in the United States to the theme of race and, by extension, its position toward people of colour. The article endeavours to reveal the relative implication of the discipline since its modern era in the reification of ideas and stereotypes that had traditionally been attached to people of colour and seeks to expose its partial role in the race-based spatial distribution of the population at large. Notwithstanding the typical change in geographic methodology in relation to race in the 1960s, this, however, was not accompanied by an adoption of a profound conception of race as a socio-historical construct that ought not to be gauged solely through the lens of quantification and empiricism. This concern has recently been echoed by a number of critical geographers who seem to be cognizant of the power and magnitude of race in the continuing spatialization of people of colour.

Downfall of the Republic! The 1877 General Strike and the Fictions of Red Scare
Justin Rogers-Cooper

This paper argues that the strategic fictions of Communist insurrection circulated during the July 1877 general strike helped President Rutherford B. Hayes authorize the US Army intervention against the strikers. It reads apocalyptic telegrams sent to Hayes beside a pulp novella, The Commune in 1880; Downfall of the Republic.

She May Be Hot, but She Is Also Really Crazy: Celebrity Deconversion Narratives
Andrew Connolly

Both Megan Fox and Katy Perry have discussed their Pentecostal past in magazine interviews, but the follow-up press has reacted very differently to the two celebrities on this subject. This paper looks at the formal differences between the interviews which prompted the different responses.

Barack Obama and the Myth of the Superheroic Presidency
David Hoogland Noon

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama’s status as an ascendant historical figure was acknowledged across digital and print culture. Among the more playful themes that emerged, Obama was often represented as a comic book hero. Such portrayals were consistent with a broad set of assumptions that Americans hold about the power and authority of the president. While superheroic representations of Obama were certainly inspired by the generic belief that presidents are capable of great feats, they were linked as well to Obama’s public image and to the discourses of citizenship, masculinity, and race that orbited him.