American Studies Over_Seas 1: Narrating Multiple America(s)

In Honor of Teresa F. A. Alves and Teresa Cid

by Edgardo da Silva (Volume editor) Margarida Vale de Gato (Volume editor) Mário Avelar (Volume editor) Irene Maria F. Blayer (Volume editor) Dulce Maria Scott (Volume editor) Tony McGowan (Volume editor)
©2022 Monographs XII, 380 Pages


American Studies Over_Seas I: Narrating Multiple America(s) is a contribution to the ongoing debate in the field of American Studies in its most recent turn—Transnational American Studies—a paradigm shift in the discipline which runs counter to a consensus version of U.S. history and culture. The essays highlight the dissenting narratives in the study of "America" as a mindscape, multivocal and varied in its discourses of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and nationality. They also evidence the interrelation of the United States with Europe and examine how society, history, literature, and art intersect, providing alternative ways to comprehend the current geopolitical and cultural mindset on both sides of the Atlantic. These are interdisciplinary and diverse texts, authored by both senior leading scholars and promising younger researchers.
The volume will benefit students and scholars of international American Studies, interdisciplinary and multicultural studies in history, sociology, modern languages literatures and cultures, cultural studies, comparative literatures, identity and ethnic studies, among others. It will also be of interest to researchers of American studies, transatlantic and transoceanic studies, diasporas and related fields of history, literature, art, and politics, as well as to the general reader with a background in the social sciences and the humanities.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Advance Praise
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction by the Editors
  • I. Seafaring in American Literature: Wilderness, Society, and the Individual
  • 1. Seafaring as a Background for Narrative: From Epic to Magic Realism (Maria Leonor Telles)
  • 2. Transatlantic Migration of Early Modern England Demonology Doctrines and Mindset to Colonial America (Maria Zina Gonçalves De Abreu)
  • 3. Representations of “the Other” in Melville’s Typee and American Colonial Literature (Ana Kocić Stanković)
  • 4. “True Places Never Are”: Navigating Transoceanic Imaginations in Moby-Dick (Steffen Wöll)
  • 5. Transatlantic Stories: Herman Melville’s Diptychs Over the Sea (Rute Beirante)
  • 6. The Blackness of Whiteness in Melville’s Gothic Sea (Maria Antónia Lima)
  • 7. Tekeli-li: Poe’s Arthur Gordon Pym and Johnson’s Pym (Erik Van Achter)
  • 8. The Individual and the Group: Allegory Revisited in Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” (Fernanda Luísa Feneja)
  • 9. Once upon a Time in the West: Nature, No-Places and a Journey. A Reading of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian through the Lenses of Moby-Dick (Ana Barroso)
  • 10. Liquid Grave, or Route to Freedom? Edwidge Danticat’s “Children of the Sea” (Isabel Caldeira)
  • II. Transatlantic Dialogues in Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts
  • 11. Moral Injury in Moby-Dick (Mike Flynn)
  • 12. Creation and Its Conditions: Bartleby’s Creative Power Through the Lens of European Metaphysics (Catarina Pombo Nabais)
  • 13. Bartleby: “A Bit of Wreck” Lost at Sea as Captain Ahab? (Cecilia Beecher Martins)
  • 14. Reification Poetics in the Late Poetry of Whitman and Melville (Tony McGowan)
  • 15. Sailing the Word: Poets. Scholars. Constellations (M. Irene Ramalho-Santos)
  • 16. Recovering Touch in D. H. Lawrence’s “The Blind Man” and Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” (Isabel Fernandes)
  • 17. “Hours for the Soul”: Some Thoughts on Walt Whitman’s and Mary Oliver’s Seascapes (Isabel Maria Fernandes Alves)
  • 18. The Significance of the Sea in Eugene O’Neill’s Early Work: The Formation of a Chronicle of Change (Konstantinos Blatanis)
  • 19. As Ilhas Encantadas (1965): Melville and the Portuguese “Novo Cinema” (José Duarte)
  • 20. Transatlantic Debunkings of History: Frank O’Hara and Jorge de Sena (Mário Avelar)
  • 21. Shaping the Visuality of the “American Century” in Life Magazine through the Lenses of Women Photographers (Maria José Canelo)
  • III. Multiple America(s): Language, Multiculturalism, and Diasporic Ventures
  • 22. The Transnational Travels of “Global Huck” (Shelley Fisher Fishkin)
  • 23. The German Language Travels Overseas: How Mark Twain and Abbas Khider Experienced this “Awful Language” (Teresa Seruya)
  • 24. English as a Global Language and Attitudes on Multilingualism: A Critical Discussion (Rita Queiroz de Barros and Alexandra Assis Rosa)
  • 25. The Immigrant Experience: An MI Approach to “A Wife’s Story” by Bharati Mukherjee (Eduarda Melo Cabrita, Maria Luísa Falcão and Isabel Ferro Mealha)
  • 26. America, Overseas? Alternative Circulations of the Global in U.S. Latinx Literature After Empire (Ricardo L. Ortiz)
  • 27. Crossing National Borders: American Exceptionalism and Transnational American Studies (Winfried Fluck)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index

←viii | ix→


The editors of American Studies Over_Seas wish to acknowledge the invaluable support, financial and other, provided for this project by a number of institutions and individuals:

  • Luso-American Foundation for Development (FLAD), for a generous grant for the editing and post-editing stages of these volumes. FLAD’s work over the past four decades embodies many of the ideas behind this project, uncovering the academic and artistic potential in Portugal, strengthening the ties with Portuguese American communities, and narrowing the distance between people and institutions on both sides of the Atlantic;
  • American Corners Portugal and Pedro Estácio, librarian of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon, for the financial support in the dissemination of the project. Since it was set up, American Corners has been making available invaluable resources to students for investigation purposes, as well as implementing key programs designed to promote culture, research & development;
  • ULICES—The University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies, with whom many of the contributors to both volumes are affiliated, for its institutional backing and assistance in navigating the waters of Portuguese bureaucracy;
  • The Department of English Studies of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon and all its academic staff, whose collegial spirit provided sustenance and encouragement throughout this editorial undertaking;
  • The Portuguese Foundation for Research and Development (FCT), the national agency in charge of promoting science, technology and innovation in Portugal, and under whose aegis Portuguese scholars have ←ix | x→been given the means to pursue national and international research projects;
  • The peer-reviewers and first readers of the essays that comprise both volumes, for their sagacious advice and kind observations:
Alexandra Lopes, Universidade Católica de Lisboa
Bernardo Palmeirim, Universidade de Lisboa
Gerd Hammer, Universidade de Lisboa
Hanna Pieta, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Jamie L. Jones, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Karen Bennett, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Marilyn S. Zucker, Stony Brook University
Stefan L. Brandt, University of Graz
Takayuki Tatsumi, Keio University
  • Dr. Tracia Leacock for her thorough and meticulous copyediting work, including her insightful comments on the subject matter of some of the articles;
  • Dr. Philip Dunshea, Senior Acquisitions Editor at Peter Lang, for having welcomed our project and seen it through its different stages with rigor and great personal interest, as well as Abdur Rawoof for his swift handling of the administrative process, and Charmitha Ashok for her indefatigable fortitude in accommodating our suggested (and at times seemingly interminable) corrections to the final proofs of both volumes;
  • Our colleague Diana V. Almeida for her generosity in allowing us to use her photographs for the volume covers;
  • Finally, we would like to thank our contributors for their patience, diligence, critical acumen and creativity, without which we would have certainly fallen short of our goals for this project.

The Editors

Introduction by the Editors

In the year 1972–1973, just before the overthrow of Portugal’s forty-three-year dictatorial regime, Teresa Ferreira de Almeida Alves and Teresa Salter Cid Gonçalves crossed paths in the hallways of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon. They were germanistas, which meant that they were doing degrees which combined both German and English studies. Although they started their careers as instructors of German Literature, they were quickly drawn to the teaching of American Literature and Culture, most notably the subject matters brought over by the winds of the “Carnation Revolution,” unconventional and unheard courses such as “Racism in the United States,” which subsequently evolved into “Minorities in the United States.” Their friendship progressed steadily as they enrolled in their PhD programs. Following a visit to the United States in 1976, as part of a US government program designed to promote academic contacts between the two countries, Alves devoted herself to the author Saul Bellow and Cid to Nathanael West. From then on, their close collaboration in everything that had to do with American Studies grew, infused with the desire to garner recognition for this disciplinary field within the University of Lisbon. They helped to establish dialogue and cooperation with their international counterparts, becoming affectionately known as “the two Teresas” in the lively and productive academic encounters they took part in not just in the United States but also in Europe.

Inspired by the example of “the two Teresas,” the two volumes that comprise American Studies Over_Seas aim to acknowledge the kindred collegiality among Americanists then and now. They bring together contributions from academics who have collaborated with our two honorees over the years, or belong to later generations who have benefited from their teachings, either through their academic work or else that of the scholars they helped to train. In fact, Teresa F. A. Alves and Teresa Cid played a pivotal role in building the interdisciplinary foundations that sustain this editorial project epistemically, namely the interrelation between American Studies, literary theory, and ←1 | 2→historicism, on the one hand, and the Portuguese diaspora in North America and transatlantic/maritime studies, on the other.

With scholarly work from Portugal, several European countries, as well as from North America, this homage is meant to showcase the wide-ranging scholarship being produced internationally in the field of American Studies, confirming the significant role played by our “shared” Atlantic, and extending its scope to other ocean crossings that evidence how the sea is a social construct (Steinberg) and how its imagery evolved through cultural exchanges, historical connections and migration movements to and from North America over the centuries. Many of the contributions to this project fall within the emerging interdisciplinary field of critical maritime or oceanic studies, as there is more than one side to this “Blue revolution.”1 If, on the one hand, it impels us to acknowledge how the chartering of the oceans follows a logic of value accumulation and fluctuation entailing seaborne exploitation and extractivism, as argued by Campling and Colás in Capitalism and the Sea, on the other, its conception as an environmental space that facilitates movement might allow for the watery transformation of our critical categories. We may envision, therefore, as suggested by Steve Mentz in the creative “deterritorializing preface” to his Ocean (2020), the replacement of “field” with “current,” “progress” with “flow” (xv–xvi), or, we propose, “linear” with “wavy.”

So, our readers are invited to read the underscore sign connecting the words “over” and “seas” in the title of our editorial project not just as a low line but as a sea wave as well, a character which reminds us that the process of going overseas is not simply an escape from a given place, but also a special movement whereby we choose to have, or lose our bearings neither “on” nor “in” and not even quite in-between.2 As it stands, the underscore signals both a border marker and a connecting aspiration, simultaneously bridging and at the same time separating, just like the oceans, the shores of nations and the cultures of the world, and shaping our current configuration of what the imaginative spaces of America can be. We thus seek to graphically represent the in-between places where individuals meet and become transformed, the “contact zones” Mary Louise Pratt describes as intercultural spaces characterized by separateness, difference, or distinctiveness, as much as by “co-presence, interaction, interlocking understandings and practices . . .” (8). Another interrelated reflection on our use of the underscore sign comes from Myra Jehlen, who has discussed the mutual transformation that occurs when diverse peoples come together, “the common ground they construct new to both, and on which they are neither the same nor different but only inextricably related; indeed neither the same nor different through their relation” (54).

←2 | 3→* * *

This project comprises separate but interconnected parts: the current volume, Narrating Multiple America(s), aims to highlight the diverse and at times dissenting ideological underpinnings involved in the study of “America” as a mindscape, currently understood to be varied and non-essentialist in nature, not least in the artistic decantation of discourses surrounding class, gender, religion, race, ethnicity, nationality. The second volume, (Multi)vocal Exchanges Across the Atlantic, curates not only academic essays that illustrate Portuguese American encounters from a variety of standpoints, but also personal testimonies, poems, short stories, and chronicles that help us to piece together an intellectual backdrop to the transnational turn in American Studies.3 Taken together, both volumes evidence this paradigm shift in the study of America while questioning the consensus view of exceptionalism and eschatology in US history, historiography, and culture.

Many of the articles in our project purport to place Portuguese culture and scholarship in the evolution of the discipline of American Studies, a focus that is crucial given the historical relevance of Portugal in the emergence of the “Americas” as a mythical space of personal realization for millions of Europeans since the exploration voyages to the New World in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Although we wish to be inclusive in our use of “oceans,” the focal point of this project is the Atlantic by reason of the prevailing historical relations between the United States and Europe and the provenance of our contributors. Notwithstanding the violence and pain that the contest for the dominance of the Atlantic basin entailed, we wish to broaden the scope of the commonalities of experience among those who were culturally and historically entangled in the process. As observed by Bernard Baylin “there is a history of another order – a broader, more general and inclusive history, Atlantic in its essence—whose passages were common to all these manifest events and to all the variant circumstances in Europe, Africa, and America” (62).

* * *

Narrating Multiple America(s) is divided into three parts. “Seafaring in American Literature: Wilderness, Society, and the Individual” concerns current perspectives on US literary history thematically centered on watery voyages across the world and other travel-related quests. It is grounded on a fruitful approach to literature in American Studies that combines history, literary analysis, and cultural studies. The section starts off with an overview of the theme of seafaring in Western literature by Maria Leonor Telles, ←3 | 4→a literary journey from European epic and its transformations to magical realism, through a transatlantic close(r) reading of Melville’s Moby Dick and Saramago’s The Stone Raft. Maria Zina De Abreu and Ana Kocić Stanković take us to American colonial times and to voyages across the Atlantic marked by the Christian demonization of the “Other,” reminding us that oceans carry vessels with a complicated history of setting spaces and peoples apart. Stanković also takes us to the Pacific and to Typee, one of many of Melville’s texts featured in our project, as a substantial part of these essays were first drafted out as papers for the international conference celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of both Melville and Whitman, in 2019, held at the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon, and which our two honorees supervised.4 It is interesting to contrast Stanković’s piece, which claims that Melville’s empirical knowledge of the Polynesians fell astray from the imperial gaze, with that of Stephen Wöll’s, which attempts to show that Moby Dick’s off-map allusions to “true places” beyond “grounded” America are “a textual mobilization of social, cultural, and racial hierarchies that shaped the United States prior to the domestic upheavals of the Civil War and bellicose portents of fin-de-siècle imperialism abroad.”

Rute Beirante, for her part, follows a line of investigation centered on the Atlantic borders, targeting the social and economic inequalities existing in Victorian England and antebellum America in Melville’s tales “The Two Temples,” “Poor Man’s Pudding and Rich Man’s Crumbs,” and “The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids.” A more metaphysical approach to the problem of evil—and of blackness—guides Maria Antónia Lima’s immersion into the “vast space occupied by the dark side of existence,” hailing Melville as a cornerstone of the American Gothic. The fraughtness of blackness is next foregrounded by Eric van Achter, this time in terms of the racialization of “the Other,” steering the reader towards the Antarctic, in another emblematic example of the American Gothic, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym, which is contrasted with contemporary Mat Johnson’s Pym. Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat,” another tale involving loss in the ocean and contested places, is analyzed by Fernanda Luísa Feneja in relation to the ocean as an allegorical setting. Once more, a boat, as a microcosm of society, struggles, pitting the individual against the group while questioning the moral order of (human) nature. Ana Barroso stresses in her piece, again, “the overwhelming darkness in the heart of mankind,” this time as phrased by Cormac McCarthy in Blood Meridian, arguing that the wild West functions in the novel as much as the open sea in Melville’s Moby Dick, substantiating the pull not just towards the unknown and the beyond, but also as regards mortality and the adversity of nature. Such an adversity ←4 | 5→concerning life and death in the contemporary vessels of the so-called “boat people” is historicized within a postcolonial framework by Isabel Caldeira in her essay on Danticat’s novel Children of the Sea, whereby she highlights the disparity of fluctuating geopolitical barriers in a capitalist world dependent on discrimination and domination.

While many comparative essays comprise part one, the second part of our volume, “Transatlantic Dialogues in Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts,” collects essays that are explicitly interdisciplinary, interartistic, transnational, and/or anchored on theory, opening with three speculative studies on Melville. Mike Flynn straddles literary theory, ethical philosophy, and psychology to explore how displacement, social injustice, and loss of faith contribute in different ways to Ahab and Ishmael’s “moral injury” in Moby Dick. Working across disciplines and continents, Catarina Pombo Nabais turns to “Bartleby, the Scrivener” to unfold the European philosophical narratives on the possibility and potency of the famous refrain “I would prefer not to.” To round it up, Cecilia Beecher Martins combines the tale of the city (Bartleby) and the tale of the sea (Moby Dick) to examine two inscrutable and diffident protagonists, the scrivener and Ahab, under Miranda Fricker’s rubric of epistemic hermeneutic injustice. From philosophy and psychology, we turn to poetry, though the shift is slight, for Tony McGowan’s contrast of Melville and Whitman’s late “reification poetics” is based on Lukács and discernments offered by political philosophy on massification, commodification, and the fragmentation of the lyrical subject. With M. Irene Ramalho-Santos’s essay, we follow a theory that is more grounded on experiencing the poem rather than “nailing it”; her concept of “constellations,” permitting her to bounce among Whitman, Pessoa, Crane and others, is derived from insights provided by the poems and the poets themselves, all of which imbued with the sense of sharing “the same constellation but out of conjunction.” Isabel Fernandes’s contribution, though addressing the short story, is in line with this kind of relational thinking, as she draws parallels between the short fiction of D. H. Lawrence and that of Raymond Carver. She argues that Lawrence’s “The Blind Man” and Carver’s “Cathedral” value touch to the detriment of the visual, fostering involvement with one another rather than mere observation and (self-)absorption. Isabel F. Alves’s piece places two authors in comparison (Walt Whitman and Mary Oliver), too, and also revolves around affect, albeit channeled through re-presentation—that of nature, and especially the ocean—thus bringing a much-needed ecocritical dimension to those reflections surrounding what happens over, as well as under, the seas.

Dialogues among writers are followed, at this stage of our volume, by dialogues within the arts: theater, film, painting and photography. ←5 | 6→Konstantinos Blatanis’ article on the sea as an integral structuring element of Eugene O’Neill’s early experimental plays chimes in with Alves’s article, from the preceding section, as both are informed by a growing area of studies which intersects ecocriticism, oceanic studies or the maritime/blue Humanities. Central to these are the lives and writings of those for whom the sea was simultaneously workplace, home, passage, penitentiary, and promise, underscoring Hester Blum’s point that one needs to be “attentive to the material conditions and praxis of the maritime world” (670). The next two essays felicitously draw a transatlantic link between Portugal and the United States: José Duarte’s text focuses on an adaptation of Melville’s The Encantadas by the film director Carlos Vilardebó, representative of the Portuguese “Novo Cinema,” foregrounding a double insularity (that of the isle of Porto Santo and Portugal’s harsh international isolation throughout its twentieth-century dictatorial regime); Mário Avelar’s text offers a comparison between Hart Crane and the Portuguese poet Jorge de Sena, an expat in the Americas for most of his life. While Avelar deals with how both writers filter the visual representations of historical male characters, Maria José Canelo, in her contribution, disentangles the conventional expectations of women in the 1940s construct of “the American Century,” and how American women photographers practiced their disrupting art within the restraints of the US cultural industry at the time.

The third part of the volume, “Multiple America(s): Language, Multiculturalism, and Diasporic Ventures,” covers issues related to interconnectedness, transnationalism and diaspora, with a special focus on linguistics and translation, two subjects which thus far have not merited sufficient attention in American Studies. Shelley Fisher Fishkin’s article recounts various projects subsumed under the umbrella-term “global Huck,” all of which centered on how the regionally, historically and racially marked language of Mark Twain travelled to different cultures. Language in Twain is also the subject of Maria Teresa Seruya’s piece, but in this instance concerning the perceptions within his work of a particular foreign language, German, which are compared to those of the contemporary Iraq-born novelist Abbas Khider, humour being used by both authors to expose cultural power relations as well as linguistic arrogance. These two last issues are also addressed in Rita Q. Barros and Alexandra A. Rosa’s discussion of attitudes towards multilingualism among those that are widely responsible for the dissemination of American English, the most common variant of today’s global language. The contemplation of other modes of language-learning, namely using the migrant experience, is the main argument of Eduarda M. Cabrita, M. Luísa Falcão, and Isabel F. Mealha. They advocate a multicultural turn in EFL ←6 | 7→classroom pedagogy based on the conceptual framework of “multiple intelligences,” first proposed by Howard Gardner, and which they exemplify by means of a short story by Bharati Mukherjee, titled “A Wife’s Story.” For his part, Ricardo L. Ortiz’s contribution to the volume, “America, Overseas?,” considers literatures produced by “Others” as coexisting within an English-speaking space, this time bringing in the theoretical and political implications of three recent Latinx poets (Javier Zamora, Eduardo Corral, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo) and one playwright (Quiara Alegría Hudes). Even if constrained by the geopolitical policies governing “the Americas,” these writers, Ortiz maintains, manage to reach the intersection where America goes “abroad” itself.


XII, 380
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (December)
American Studies Transnational American Studies Transatlantic Studies Herman Melville Walt Whitman Diaspora Studies 19th Century US Literature 20th Century US Literature Multiculturalism Seafaring in Literature Edgardo Medeiros da Silva Margarida Vale de Gato Mário Avelar Irene Maria F. Blayer Tony McGowan Dulce Maria Scott American Studies Over_Seas: Narrating Multiple America(s) In Honor of Teresa F. A. Alves and Teresa Cid
New York, Berlin, Bruxelles, Lausanne, Oxford, 2022. XII, 380 pp., 7 b/w ill, 6 tables.

Biographical notes

Edgardo da Silva (Volume editor) Margarida Vale de Gato (Volume editor) Mário Avelar (Volume editor) Irene Maria F. Blayer (Volume editor) Dulce Maria Scott (Volume editor) Tony McGowan (Volume editor)

Edgardo Medeiros da Silva, PhD, is Assistant Professor of English at the School of Social and Political Sciences of Universidade de Lisboa and a researcher in American Studies with ULICES—ULisboa Centre for English Studies. Margarida Vale de Gato, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the areas of translation and U.S. literature in the School of Arts and Humanities of Universidade de Lisboa, where she coordinates the American Studies program. Mário Avelar, PhD, is Professor at the School of Arts and Humanities of Universidade de Lisboa, where he is the head of the English Department and director of the PhD and MA programs in this field. Irene Maria F. Blayer, PhD, is Full Professor at Brock University. Her research includes comparative Romance linguistics, linguistic ethnography, diaspora studies, im/migrant narrative discourse, and identity construction. Dulce Maria Scott, PhD, is Full Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Anderson University. Her research has focused on immigration, race, and ethnicity in the United States, including immigrant women, Hispanic ethnic entrepreneurship in central Indiana, and Portuguese Americans. Tony McGowan, PhD, is Associate Professor of English at West Point, where he co-directs the Diversity and Inclusion minor. He teaches American literature and critical theory, and his most recent publication on Melville appeared in Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies.


Title: American Studies Over_Seas 1: Narrating Multiple America(s)
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