John Carlos Rowe – “The Ends of Transnationalism and U.S. Cultural Imperialism”

October 3, 2014 @ 1:30 pm America/New York Timezone
Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries Auditorium
Richard B. Russell Building
The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
Peter O'Neill, Comparative Literature

The transnational study of U.S. and other American cultures has been the prevailing method and paradigm for American Studies and American Literature for the past two decades. In recent years, however, some scholars have questioned the relevance of the term “transnational” and its theoretical applicability to the “global” and “planetary” scope of the U.S. state. Robyn Wiegman contends in Object Lessons that the transnational approach is an inherently flawed effort to avoid our intellectual complicity in U.S. imperialism. Still other scholars have identified forms of human mobility and affiliation that are not adequately treated by the category “transnational.”

Are we at the end of the transnational methodology and conceptualization of the U.S. and other Americas? Or are there other purposes served by the transnational approach that have not yet been satisfactorily investigated? What are the currently viable intellectual alternatives to transnational American Studies, and how do they help us avoid or overcome the limitations of the theory?

John Carlos Rowe is USC Associates’ Professor of the Humanities and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, where he has served as Chair of the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity (2008-2011). He was Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine from 1975-2004, where he was a founding member of the Critical Theory Institute.

His books include Henry Adams and Henry James: The Emergence of a Modern Consciousness (Cornell University Press, 1976), At Emerson’s Tomb: The Politics of Classic American Literature (Columbia University Press, 1997), Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism: From the Revolution to World War II (Oxford University Press, 2000), The New American Studies (University of Minnesota Press, 2002), Afterlives of Modernism: Liberalism, Transnationalism, and Political Critique (Dartmouth College Press of the University Press of New England, 2011),  and The Cultural Politics of the New American Studies (Open Humanities Press, 2012), and he is the author of over 150 scholarly essays and critical reviews.

He is the editor of The Vietnam War and American Culture (Columbia University Press, 1991), “Culture” and the Problem of the Disciplines (Columbia University Press, 1998), Post-Nationalist American Studies (University of California Press, 2000), Selections from the Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller in the New Riverside Editions (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies (Dartmouth College Press, 2011), and Lindon Barrett’s Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity (University of Illinois Press, 2014), as well as numerous other volumes.

His current scholarly projects are Our Henry James and The Ends of Transnationalism.