"A Desire Called America: Biopolitics and Utopian Forms of Life in American Literature" analyzes two periods of American literature - the American Renaissance and American literature following the 1960s - in terms of how specific literary texts return to and revise the founding of the U.S. as a political experiment. Historically speaking, these two periods stand at opposite ends of the arc of U.S. global hegemony: the American Renaissance as the U.S. rises to the status of global hegemon, and American literature after the 1960s in the midst of that hegemony's unraveling. I argue that the precarious position of the U.S. in these two periods enables American literature to reactivate the utopian promise of the American Revolution. The texts I analyze treat the revolution as an archive of futures past, that is, they imagine futures that might have taken place but never did because of the betrayal of the revolutionary experiment. Put differently, my dissertation focuses on the tensions and contradictions between the U.S. - understood as a geographical and political entity - and America - understood as a utopian political desire. I show that one of the most important ways in which the reactivation of utopian political potential occurs is through figurations of the human body.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. Ph.D. dissertation. December 2012. Major: Comparative Literature. Advisor: Cesare Casarino. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 600 pages.
Haines, Christian P..
A desire called America: biopolitics and utopian forms of Life in American literature.
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