Global Moments: Spectatorship, Violence and the Urban in Contemporary Fiction

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Global moments, or instances of intense cross-cultural engagement, are rich nodes for analyzing how novelists and filmmakers envision cultural globalization in postcolonial fiction, U.S. ethnic writing and contemporary film. In my dissertation, I argue that global moments occur when multiple and often incongruous frames of reference converge and the subject attempts to produce meaning in a new way that allows for, contains or erases the contradictions of global interaction. Embedded in each global moment is the kernel of an interpretive crisis and a subsequent attempt to deal with this collision of meaning−making systems through a range of resolutions: from violent retrenchment in local values to the cosmopolitan move toward the other. The introductory chapter lays out a theoretical framework for global moments with special attention to Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Each following chapter deals with one of three tropes in global fiction and film: transnational spectatorship in movie theaters; intercultural violence in the torture chamber; and dystopic representations of global cities. Depictions of movie going in novels such as Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey and Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters provide an apt conceptual model for imagining the disruptions, incongruities and creative opportunities of cultural globalization. In works such as Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” and J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, representations of torture also foreground the problem of reading across boundaries where violent inscription of the other serves as a method to reestablish slipping power in the face of cultural relativization. Likewise, global cities are particularly potent sites for depictions of interpretive interaction between radically different cultural groups brought into close quarters in the classic science−fiction film Blade Runner, Alejandro Morales’ The Rag Doll Plagues and Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome. In addition, each of these tropes opens up a critical space to consider major issues of globalization such as the mobility of populations, violent ethnic conflicts, local/global spaces, and the role of the media.
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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA Santa Barbara Global Moments: Spectatorship, Violence and the Urban in Contemporary Fiction A Dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in English by Eric Lars Martinsen Committee in charge: Professor Giles Gunn, Co-Chair Professor Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Co-Chair Professor H. Porter Abbott September 2010 UMI Number: 3428001 All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. UMI 3428001 Copyright 2010 by ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This edition of the work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code. ProQuest LLC 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346 The dissertation of Eric Lars Martinsen is approved. ____________________________________________ H. Porter Abbott ____________________________________________ Giles Gunn, Committee Co-Chair ____________________________________________ Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Committee Co-Chair July 2010 Global Moments: Spectatorship, Violence and the Urban in Contemporary Fiction Copyright © 2010 by Eric Lars Martinsen iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This project is lovingly dedicated to my daughter Evelina Jasmijn whose arrival lit up the world and to my best friend and wife Marit ter Mate- Martinsen who supported me each step of the way with her love, humor, energy and insight. Our lively and on-going conversation about the way the world works has taught me more than any other experience about what it means to live in a global context. I am also indebted to my family here and abroad for always believing in me and supporting my studies, and particularly to my parents Eric and Betty Martinsen who nurtured my love of language and learning from the very beginning. I am also enormously grateful to my dissertation committee members for their mentorship, guidance and countless hours helping me produce and refine this project. During my first quarter at UCSB, Shirley Geok-lin Lim sparked my academic interest in globalization in her seminar on “Writing Globalized Cultures.” Each subsequent office visit invigorated me to dive back into the writing, and I so appreciate her inspiring direction, insightful feedback and unwavering support. A co-chair of my committee, Giles Gunn once posed a question in a lecture—“What does the global feel like?”—which really struck a chord with me since I had never considered globalization as a way of feeling, merely as an abstract series of economic, ideological and political forces. I heartily thank him for continually pushing my thinking about the global in new and unexpected directions and for tirelessly backing my scholarship and iv teaching. Porter Abbott, my initial faculty advisor at UCSB and a reader of this project, encouraged me to follow my early ideas about “global moments.” Even though the concept was still largely intuitive, Porter suggested that I may have caught a glimpse of a larger project through the thicket, and I am immensely gratefully for his wise council, incisive feedback and constant support. The often-isolating task of drafting this manuscript was eased by the support of a remarkable circle of friends and colleagues. Special thanks to the Daily Grind Writers—Carina Evans, Caroline Hong and Yanoula Athanassakis—for sharing many hours writing one page at a time. I am also thankful for the many spicy fireside chats with Nathan Henne and in-depth exchanges over coffee with Ly Chong Jalao. My gratitude is also extended to UCSB professors Bishnupriya Ghosh, Carl Gutiérrez-Jones, Alan Liu and Russell Samolsky for their generous engagement in my scholarly development. Finally, many thanks to the American Cultures and Global Contexts Center, English Department, Writing Program and Global Studies program at UCSB for their years of support through teaching assistantships and to the UCSB Graduate Division for their Graduate Humanities Research Assistant Fellowship and Graduate Student Travel Grant. v VITA OF ERIC LARS MARTINSEN July 2010 EDUCATION Doctor of Philosophy in English (with an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphasis in Global Studies), University of California, Santa Barbara, July 2010 Master of Arts in English Language and Literature, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, May 1991 Bachelor of Arts in English and History. Atlantic Union College, South Lancaster, MA, May 1990 (Honors Core; magna cum laude) PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYMENT Assistant Professor of English, Ventura College, San Buenaventura, CA, 2009- present Teaching Assistant/Associate, English Department, Global Studies and Writing Program, UC Santa Barbara, CA, Fall 2002-Spring 2009 Fulbright Instructor, Monterey Institute for International Studies, Monterey, CA, Summer 2001 & 2002 Core Course Lecturer, Stevenson College, UC Santa Cruz, CA, 2000-2002 Senior Academic Preceptor, Stevenson College, UC Santa Cruz, CA, 1999- 2002 Assistant Professor of English, Atlantic Union College (AUC), South Lancaster, MA, 1997-1999 Academic Support Services Coordinator, AUC, South Lancaster, MA, 1997- 1998 English/ESL Instructor, AUC, South Lancaster, MA, 1993-1997 English Instructor (adjunct), Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA, 1991-1992 PUBLICATIONS “Transnational American Studies in the Digital Age.” Journal of Transnational American Studies 2:1 (2010). http://escholarship.org/uc/item/46j322bc “Bapsi Sidwa,” “Bharati Mukherjee,” “Vikram Seth,” and “Japanese concentration camp haiku” in America: A Literary Anthology for Asia. Ed. Paul Lauter. Cambridge University Press (forthcoming). "Reading the Movies: Spectatorship and Global Moments in Transnational Fiction." Selected Proceedings from the International American Studies Association (IASA). Trans/American, Trans/Oceanic, Trans/lation (20-23 September 1007), University of Lisbon, Portugal. CD-ROM. CafePress, 2009. vi “Diana Chang.” 3,000-word essay. Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature, Volume 1. Ed. Guiyou Huang. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2009: 128-134. “Interview with Maxine Hong Kingston.” Department of English News & Notes. 1.2 (July 2006). 16 Oct. 2007 <. “Reading Keats' Grecian Urn: Art and the Imagination in ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’” Framed In Words: Essays in Honor of Ottilie Frank Stafford. Ed. Norman Wendth. Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2005: 65-76. AWARDS Postdoctoral Fellow/Visiting Scholar, American Cultures and Global Contexts Center, UCSB, 2009-present Graduate Humanities Research Assistant Fellowship (a full-year, merit-based, competitive award for dissertation writing), UCSB, 2007-2008 Graduate Student Travel Grant (Lisbon, Portugal), UCSB, 2007-2008 Dean’s Fellowship, UCSB, English Department nominee, 2006 and 2007 Graduate Fellow, American Cultures and Global Contexts Center, UCSB, 2005-2006 Excellence in Teaching Award in Humanities (Honorable Mention), UCSB, 2004-2005 Fee Fellowship, English Department, UCSB, 2003-2007 Consortium for Literature, Theory and Culture Travel Grant, UCSB, 2005 & 2007 Rochelle Philmon Kilgore Award (for a meritorious English major), AUC, 1990 vii ABSTRACT Global Moments: Spectatorship, Violence and the Urban in Contemporary Fiction by Eric Lars Martinsen Global moments, or instances of intense cross-cultural engagement, are rich nodes for analyzing how novelists and filmmakers envision cultural globalization in postcolonial fiction, U.S. ethnic writing and contemporary film. In my dissertation, I argue that global moments occur when multiple and often incongruous frames of reference converge and the subject attempts to produce meaning in a new way that allows for, contains or erases the contradictions of global interaction. Embedded in each global moment is the kernel of an interpretive crisis and a subsequent attempt to deal with this collision of meaning-making systems through a range of resolutions: from violent retrenchment in local values to the cosmopolitan move toward the other. The introductory chapter lays out a theoretical framework for global moments with special attention to Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Each following chapter deals with one of three tropes in global fiction and film: transnational spectatorship in movie theaters; intercultural violence in the torture chamber; and dystopic representations of global cities. Depictions of movie going in novels such as Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey and Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters provide an viii apt conceptual model for imagining the disruptions, incongruities and creative opportunities of cultural globalization. In works such as Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” and J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, representations of torture also foreground the problem of reading across boundaries where violent inscription of the other serves as a method to reestablish slipping power in the face of cultural relativization. Likewise, global cities are particularly potent sites for depictions of interpretive interaction between radically different cultural groups brought into close quarters in the classic science-fiction film Blade Runner, Alejandro Morales’ The Rag Doll Plagues and Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome. In addition, each of these tropes opens up a critical space to consider major issues of globalization such as the mobility of populations, violent ethnic conflicts, local/global spaces, and the role of the media. ix TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1: Reading Global Moments: Uncanny Encounters and Cross-Cultural Interpretation in 20th Century Fiction........................................................................... 1! A Smile and a Stare in Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist ................. 7! The Uncanny as an Aspect of Global Moments........................................ 24! Momentism: Combining the temporal and spatial .................................... 28! Globalized Literary Study and Global Moments....................................... 36! Chapter 2: Reading the Movies: Spectatorship and Global Moments in Transnational Fiction................................................................................................... 46! Between Worlds: Cinema Spectatorship in Hagedorn’s Dogeaters .......... 47! ‘Inhabitable Faces’ in Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey.............................61! Chapter 3: Reading Torture and Tortured Readings: Relativization and Cross- Cultural Violence in 20th Century Fiction .................................................................. 71! Torture as a Global Moment...................................................................... 82! Reading Torture and Tortured Readings in Coetzee ...............................101! Chapter 4: Reading Torture and Tortured Readings: Postmodern Reading of Torture in Barthelme and Hagedorn.......................................................................... 125! Barthelme's Postmodern Representation of Torture................................127! Reading “The Famine of Dreams” in Hagedorn’s Dogeaters .................134! x Chapter 5: Possible Futures: Race, Metalepsis and Dystopic Global Cities .............152! Representations of Global Cities .............................................................156! Metalepsis in Blade Runner and The Rag Doll Plagues.......................... 165! Working with Specters in the Global Future: Haunted Technologies and Dis-ease in Morales and Ghosh ........................................................171! Bibliography ..............................................................................................................188! xi Chapter 1: Reading Global Moments: Uncanny Encounters and Cross- Cultural Interpretation in 20th Century Fiction In his introduction to a special issue of PMLA on “Globalizing Literary Studies,” literary critic and global studies scholar Giles Gunn pinpoints a common apprehension of many critics of globalization: “the erasure of local differences and the integration of more and more of the world's people, as well as of entire sovereign states, into a geopolitical system that inevitably erodes their ability to shape their own destinies” ("Globalizing Literary Studies" 19). A concern regarding cultural homogenization on a global level has led theorists to explore how local cultural practices are able to resist, appropriate or revise global forces as MTV, Hollywood movies or the marketing campaigns of multinational corporations. Literary critic Paul Jay underscores the agency of the local when he advocates “looking at local cultures outside the West not as the passive recipients of mass culture but as sites of transformation or even active resistance” (42). Globalized literary study must focus, Jay concludes, on this “multidirectionality of cultural flows, on the appropriation and transformation of globalized cultural forms wherever they settle in, with close attention to how those forms are reshaped and sent off again to undergo further transformations elsewhere” (42). To conceptualize the “multidirectionality of cultural flows,” scholars of contemporary global culture have turned to models 1 such as webs, networks, and -scapes1 in efforts to articulate processes that intertwine across, and outside of, the geographic and cultural boundaries of nation-states and their various national literatures. Foundational to many of these approaches to global literary studies is the figure of the rhizome, a term deployed by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia to represent non-hierarchical systems of all kinds: unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states. The rhizome is reducible neither to the One nor the multiple... It is composed not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. (21) 1 Symbolic anthropologists have long used the metaphor of webs to understand human cultures, an approach perhaps best articulated by Clifford Geertz who writes that “man [sic.] is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun” (5). In 1991, Jan van Dijk was the first to use the term “Network Society” in his Dutch language book De Netwerkmaatschappij, which was translated into English in 1999 as The Network Society. Manuel Castells as also used the metaphor of networks to understand contemporary global culture in his trilogy The Information Age, especially in The Rise of the Network Society. The use of “-scapes”—ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, finacescapes and ideoscapes—to conceptualize globalization was originally proposed by anthropologist Arjun Appardurai in Modernity at Large (1996). Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures; Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973), Jan van Dijk, De Netwerk Maatschappij, Sociale Aspecten Van Nieuwe Media (Houten/Zaventem: Bohn Stafleu Van Loghum, 1991), Jan van Dijk, The Network Society : Social Aspects of New Media (London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1999), Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society, Information Age (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1996), Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large : Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Public Worlds ; V. 1 (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1996). 2 The deterritorialized and mobile nature of the rhizome, which “connects any point to any other point,” makes it a particularly apt figure for approaching the global literary landscape. Deleuze and Guattari’s insistence that the rhizome is “reducible neither to the One nor the multiple” troubles any effort to speak of a unitary global literature while at the same time it opens up a space for critical analysis of the whole without losing touch with its multiplicity. Deleuze and Guattari associate trees, or “arborescent structures,” with “centered systems” and “hierarchical structures” in which a single trunk connects all branches as in the case of a traditionally-conceived national literature (17). In contrast, citing examples such as Bermuda grass and ginger, Deleuze and Guattari explain, “A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organization of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles” (7). As globalization theorist Jan Aart Scholte writes, “Global relations are not links at a distance across territory but circumstances without distance and relatively disconnected from particular location” (49, original emphasis). A rhizomatic approach to literary study, then, is one that traces these deterritorialized connections, linking “any point to any other point” regardless of national literary canons. Connective nodes in a literary rhizome may bring together Chicano and South Asian novels, for instance, in order to identify the interpretative and imaginative acts necessary for, what Jay calls, local “appropriation and transformation of globalized cultural forms” (42). 3 My dissertation brings together such divergent texts to explore one narrative configuration in the global literary rhizome that I call global moments and necessarily calls into question disciplinary boundaries between literary fields such as postcolonial literature and U.S. race and ethnic studies. Global moments, or instances of intensive cross-cultural engagement, provide rich temporal and spatial nodes for the analysis of how writers of fiction represent globalizing forces and experiences. Using Geertz's semiotic view of culture as “webs of significance,”2 this project examines fictional representations of these webs being crossed, tangled or knotted, thereby destabilizing local cultural frameworks and generating profound interpretive crises (Geertz 5). Global moments occur when multiple and often incongruous frames of reference are brought together and when the subject attempts to produce meaning in a new way that allows for, contains or seeks to erase the inevitable contradictions of global interaction. Within the conceptual framework offered by global moments, encounters with the global are always contingent and provisional, constituted only in particular moments in specific places, and so, contact with the global 2 Geertz writes: “The concept of culture I espouse . . . is essentially a semiotic one. Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretative one in search of meaning. It is explication I am after. . . .” Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973) 5. 4 cannot exist in any prolonged sense. The “moment”3 itself exists only as an ever-changing intersection of time and space, defined in the most basic sense as “a period of time (not necessarily brief) marked by a particular quality of experience or by a memorable event” (OED Online). It can also be “a crisis or turning point, a testing situation” (OED Online). Rarely, the moment is even used as a transitive verb, meaning, “to make important” (OED Online). A moment might also be thought of as a particular point in time and space that precedes and resists incorporation into narrative. A moment stands apart from chronological time, disrupting the standard flow of time and inviting a deeper reflection on the experience. The flow of time limits the amount of attention that can be given to any particular set of circumstances, so a global moment, in that it interrupts the familiar interpretative patterns, stops the chronological flow of time. In that moment, time
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