Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University will host a lecture by Dr. Mauricio D. Aguilera Linde titled “Saroyan’s Travel Memories: Contesting National Identities for Armenian-Americans during the Great Depression.” This lecture will be on Apr. 7, 2016, 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at NGF Room, 1/f de la Costa Hall, Ateneo de Manila University. The lecture is open to the public.
Aguilera Linde’s abstract reads: “Written at the onset of the decline of his meteoric popularity, Saroyan’s Little Children (1937), a book that never drew much critical attention, raises important questions concerning the bifocal orientation of immigrants during the Great Depression. Among the stories included in the volume, “Around the World with General Grant” proves to be particularly revealing of the writer’s double consciousness. By juxtaposing the master narrative of the president’s global tour and the petit récit of the family’s exile, the narrator composes a liminal narrative that pits the assimilationist thrust of the national pedagogy (epitomized by the travelogue’s imperial vision) against the child’s performative ability to fracture the linear, homogeneous time of the host nation though his allusions to the destroyed homeland and his father’s exodus. In addition to Homi K. Bhabha’s concept of cultural liminality, this article also explores the role of cultural memory and communicative memory (Jan Assman) in the travel binaries (travel-fantasy vs. exile; tourism vs. migration; recreation vs. diaspora) that constantly merge and collide together throughout the story. I present a detailed discussion of the author’s conflicting sense of Armenianness and the pivotal role of memory and place in his short fiction and autobiographical writings before contending that the child narrator’s “night of unplacement” (“the unhomely moment” in Bhabha’s words) prefigures Saroyan’s diasporic subjectivity perpetually engaged on a contradictory negotiation of both memory frames.
Mauricio D. Aguilera Linde is a senior lecturer at the University of Granada, Spain, where he has been teaching American literature since 1992. At present on the BA in English he teaches a six credit course on US culture (second year); a period course on American drama (from Glaspell to Fornes), and a course on avant-garde narratives (from Hemingway to Carver). A visiting senior fellow at the University of Rutgers (New Jersey), The Linguistic University of Moscow (Russia), Delhi University, California University at Berkeley, and a visiting scholar of Stanford on several occasions (1996 and 2004), he has been very actively involved in the research of contemporary American drama and short fiction. His articles on William Saroyan, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and O. Henry, have been published in journals such as American Drama; Journal of the Short Story in English: Cahiers de la Nouvelle; Tennessee Williams Annual Review; Atlantis: Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies; Cuento en Red: Revista Electrónica de Teoría de Ficción Breve; and Miscelánea: Journal of Anglo-American Studies. His current research interests are centered upon diaspora and memory, more specifically the immigration stories of the 1930s and 1940s in California (Saroyan, Bulosan and Fante).