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  • April 16, 2015 To April 16, 2015

  • Seminars

  • K K Birla Goa Campus, Conference Room

  • Offline

  • Humanities and Social Sciences

  • speaker

Prof. Amritjit Singh

Langston Hughes Professor of English, Ohio University & Visiting Fullbright-Nehru Professor of English, Delhi University (2014-15)

The “Frontier” and the American Imagination: A Retrospective View

Abstract: In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner bemoaned the “closing” of the American frontier – the disappearance by the 1890s of cheap, fertile and accessible lands out West. He wondered what would happen to the American people, American democracy and the American character in the wake of such a loss, but he had no clear answers. In different ways, foundational American Studies texts such Henry Nash Smith’s Virgin Land (1950), R.W.B. Lewis’s The American Adam (1955) and Leo Marx, Machine in the Garden (1964) are built upon the “consensus history” signalled by Turner’s Frontier thesis in relation to the American experiment and its distinctive appeal, as well as the implicit “ideas of civilization, progress and Manifest Destiny.”

Through my presentation and in the pursuant conversations, we will, I hope, have an opportunity to (a) consider the revisionist views of both the Frontier as well as the American character and democracy that began to surface in the 1970s; (b) acknowledge the riffs and counter-narratives that had already appeared in the writings and careers of late 19th-century and early 20th-century figures such as Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Americo Paredes; (c) reference the new takes on the Frontier by contemporary novelists such as Ishmael Reed and E. L. Doctorow; and (d) examine the parallels between European colonialism and the American Empire – based on the scholarship of Amy Kaplan, Donald Pease, etc., and contextualized by Amritjit Singh and Peter Schmidt in the opening “Borders” essay in Postcolonial Theory and the United States (2000).