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Writing New Identities

Gender, Nation, and Immigration in Contemporary Europe

1996

Gisela Brinker-Gabler and Sidonie Smith, editors

Writing New Identities

Looks at the complexities of identity in the context of contemporary European culture.

The essays in Writing New Identities address the changing notions of community that the New Europe faces as a result of the large numbers of immigrants and migrant workers seeking work and refuge within its borders.

Contributors: Leslie Adelson, Ohio State U; Carol Boyce Davies, SUNY, Binghamton; Katrina Irving, George Mason U; Françoise Lionnet; Graziella Parati, Dartmouth College; Catherine Portuges, U of Massachusetts; Gita Rajan, Fairfield U; Karen Remmler, Mount Holyoke College; Azade Seyhan, Bryn Mawr College; Hannelore Scholz, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin; Svetlana Slapsak; Greta Slobin, U of California, Santa Cruz; Julia Watson, U of Montana; Ebba Witt-Brattström, U of Stockholm, Sweden; Winifred Woodhull, U of California, San Diego.

Once the center from which imperial projects were made, Europe of the late twentieth century is being radically remade by the denizens of its former colonies. Writing New Identities is a dynamic collection of readings of that new topography and its dramatic demography. But Europe is a problem, and the recollections of its past, the insights into its present, and the visions of its future offered here are fraught with the tensions and urgencies of the turns that this latest century is taking. From Ireland to the former Yugoslavia, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, and haunted by the residues of a world once appointed into First, Second, and Third, Writing New Identities anticipates another order still, at once literary, gendered, and geopolitical, and combining the best of each of those worlds.

Barbara Harlow, University of Texas at Austin

At the end of the twentieth century the peoples of the New Europe are confronting changing notions of community, renegotiating borders and territory, imagining new markets and identities, and responding, sometimes violently, to the increasing cultural diversity that comes with large numbers of immigrants and migrant workers. The essays in Writing New Identities address the complexities of this moment of crisis and explore the interrelationships of nationalisms, genders, and representational practices from a variety of theoretical and critical perspectives.

As they take up diverse cultural texts-personal narrative, film, essay, magazines, poetry, fiction—produced across the breadth of Europe, from Ireland to Russia, from Sweden to Italy—these essays provocatively engage the following questions: How are women writing themselves into and out of the stories nations tell about themselves? How do multicultural subjects, with their diverse histories and subjectivities, enter those same stories? What impact might new forms of subjectivity have on the construction and deconstruction of national identities in the New Europe?

Writing New Identities is the first volume to address the strategies through which those who have all too often been left out of the story—women and members of ethnic minorities—negotiate the national cultures and traditions of the old Western European nation-states. In addition, the contributors assess the ways in which cultural production in the nation-states of Eastern Europe participates in radically altering national and cultural politics.

Contributors: Leslie Adelson, Ohio State U; Carol Boyce Davies, SUNY, Binghamton; Katrina Irving, George Mason U; Françoise Lionnet; Graziella Parati, Dartmouth College; Catherine Portuges, U of Massachusetts; Gita Rajan, Fairfield U; Karen Remmler, Mount Holyoke College; Azade Seyhan, Bryn Mawr College; Hannelore Scholz, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin; Svetlana Slapsak; Greta Slobin, U of California, Santa Cruz; Julia Watson, U of Montana; Ebba Witt-Brattström, U of Stockholm, Sweden; Winifred Woodhull, U of California, San Diego.

Writing New Identities

Gisela Brinker-Gabler is professor of comparative literature and women’s studies at the State University of New York, Binghamton, and is editor of Encountering the Other(s).

Sidonie Smith is director of women’s studies at the University of Michigan and is coeditor (with Julia Watson) of De/Colonizing the Subject and Getting a Life.

Writing New Identities

For anybody interested in the relationships between national identity, gender, and literature, Writing New Identities is one of the most interesting publications to date. I can recommend this volume whole-heartedly.

The German Quarterly

Once the center from which imperial projects were made, Europe of the late twentieth century is being radically remade by the denizens of its former colonies. Writing New Identities is a dynamic collection of readings of that new topography and its dramatic demography. But Europe is a problem, and the recollections of its past, the insights into its present, and the visions of its future offered here are fraught with the tensions and urgencies of the turns that this latest century is taking. From Ireland to the former Yugoslavia, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, and haunted by the residues of a world once appointed into First, Second, and Third, Writing New Identities anticipates another order still, at once literary, gendered, and geopolitical, and combining the best of each of those worlds.

Barbara Harlow, University of Texas at Austin