DepositThe Ethics of Emotion: The Dialectic of Empathy and Estrangement in Postwar German Literature and Film

Although the question of the role of empathy in our experience of fiction is currently an active one in psychology, most of the relevant research has been conducted on popular literature and film. This dissertation seeks to change that by using cognitive approaches to literature to examine how and why postmodern texts disrupt the reader or viewer’s expected empathic connection with the narrator or protagonist. Drawing on research by both cognitive psychologists and cognitive cultural theorists, I examine first how this disruption is accomplished, through techniques of both narrative and ethical estrangement, such as: narrative unreliability or non-cooperation; mindreading puzzles that can never be solved; moments of intimacy and empathy that are deliberately thwarted; and the presence of the disgusting or the grotesque in the text. Ultimately, I argue that in the wake of the disastrous failure of empathy that was World War II, postmodern writers and directors have sought to render moral judgment and decision-making conscious and deliberate, rather than unconscious and emotion-based. Principle authors and texts include Günter Grass’s Die Blechtrommel, W.G. Sebald’s Die Ausgewanderten and Austerlitz, and Michael Haneke’s films, Die Klavierspielerin, Das weiße Band, and Amour. This argument has implications for not only the field of cognitive cultural studies, but also for psychology, ethics, and education.

DepositMigratory Dialectics and Border Semiosis in Ana Castillo’s Chicana Novel So Far from God

My paper argues for a shift in our theoretical focus on time in narrative dialectics and a post-Barthesian semiotic model for critical interpretations of Latino/a/x border narratives. Currently, we know that border narratives reveal the underlying patterns of literary communicative acts of difference (i.e., oral and literary ambiguity, high contextuality, and incommensurability) and how these acts of difference are aesthetically arranged for border texts. I claim that these acts of expressing socio-linguistic realities can be made explicit and aesthetically felt when reading border literature. Most scholarship on U.S. multi-ethnic novels, including Latino/a/x novels, has performed rhetorical analyses of the relations and incongruities between Western and non-Western narrative forms. This is evident in Ramón Saldívar’s 1990 narrative theory of a “dialectics of difference.” His theory of Chicano narrativity provides the basis for the development of a critical method for determining the intersecting referential codes used to express border narrative literary elements. A migratory dialectic theory and border semiosis theory will establish the macro- and micro- structures of border narrative difference for further research of border narratives. In this paper, I will examine Castillo’s novel as an example of a border narrative that creates the aesthetic rendering of border thinking. Border thinking is invoked in So Far from God through linguistic heterogeneity, multiple referential codes in dialectical convergences, and dialectic practices needed for ideologically transformed characters and ultimately for the novel’s readers.

MemberNadia Nurhussein

…Rhetorics of Literacy: The Cultivation of American Dialect Poetry (The Ohio State University Press)


My work focuses on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American literature and culture, especially poetry. In my first book, Rhetorics of Literacy: The Cultivation of American Dialect Poetry (The Ohio State University Press, 2013), I argued that dialect poetry functioned in the turn-of-the-century US in surprising ways, challenging readers’ expectations of a light and entertaining subgenre. My current book project considers African American literary and cultural views of the politics of imperial Ethiopia from the 1860s to the 1930s, particularly as expressed in newspapers and magazines, reflecting an interest in periodical studies that has informed my research throughout my career.

DepositCosmopolitanism and Its Discontents: The Dialectic between the Global and the Local in Lao She’s Fiction

Modern Chinese fiction dealing with cultural others can be taken as a lens through which to reread the cosmopolitan theory. At stake in the debate between communitarianism and liberalism are the viability of single cultural membership and its validity. Lao She’s Self-Sacrifice (1934) and Dr. Wen (1936-1937) question the viability of global cultural membership. For Lao She, cultural hotchpotch—as suggested by Salman Rushdie—is not an option. These novellas dramatize the dialectic between the global and the local at a crossroads of Chinese nationalism and Western imperialism. Lao She’s representation of Dr. Mao and Dr. Wen also pose challenging questions for his contemporaries and for twenty-first-century readers alike: Can one ever refuse to be defined by the local, either by birth or by acculturation? What are the implications and consequences if one so chooses?

GroupLLC Occitan

The LLC Occitan forum seeks to promote scholarly activity regarding the language, literature, and culture of Occitania, those regions where langue d’oc (sometimes called Provençal, after one specific area, Provence) is and has been spoken. This language flourished in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, notably in the hands of the vernacular poets known as troubadours […]

MemberTaryn Hakala

…Phi Beta Kappa

Modern Language Association 

North American Victorian Studies Association 

American Dialect Society

Linguistic Society of America

International Gender and Language Association

Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies

Melodrama Research Co…
…Selected Publications

“Dialect.” Special Keywords issue of Victorian Literature and Culture. 46.3/4 (Fall/Winter 2018): 649-652.

“Linguistic Self-Fashioning in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton.” Dialect and Literature in the Long Nineteenth Century. Ed. Jane Hodso…

I serve as a member of the Modern Language Association’s Delegate Assembly, representing the Language Change Forum. My research interests lie at the intersection of language and literature. I am particularly interested in the linguistic performance of social identity and the ways in which stylistic variation is represented in literature. I am currently finishing my first book, Dialect Acts: Identity Performance on the Victorian Page and Stage.

MemberOscar Useche

The relations between Economics and Literature in Spain’s Restoration Period.
The theoretical and philosophical dialectic between positivism and literature in Spanish Naturalism.
The tensions between Science and Catholicism in Spain’s fin de siècle.
The influence of science, technology and industry on the Spanish literature and culture.
The appropriation of mathematical concepts in debates over the religion-science tension in nineteenth-century Spain.

TopicRCWS Literacy Studies Sessions at MLA 2017

I hope you can join us at the two sessions sponsored by the RCWS Literacy Studies Forum at MLA 17: 491. Situated Literacy Practices Saturday, January 7 10:15–11:30 a.m Room 303, Philadelphia Marriott Presiding: Peggy D. Otto, Western Kentucky University Panelists: Steven Alvarez, University of Kentucky \”Taco Literacies: Translingual Foodways Writing in the Bluegrass\” Brenta […]