Distinguished Visiting Scholar Nov. 28

Distinguished Visiting Scholar
Ramón Saldívar, Ph.D.

Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Hoagland Family Professor of Humanities and Sciences
Stanford University

Monday, November 28, 2016 • 4:30 pm
Women’s Building Formal Lounge,
Reception at 4:00 PM, followed by talk at 4:30 PM,

Speculative Realism, Genre, and Social Network Theory Post 45 U.S. Ethnic Fiction

“A host of writers are exploring the post-postmodern, post-Civil Rights moment in American racial formations.  I wish to make the case that these works represent a distinctive turn in the history of contemporary American ethnic and general fiction.  In doing so, they share four distinctive features, which in the aggregate constitute a new aesthetic that I will term Speculative Realism.  In these novels,

  1. Speculative realism is a mode in critical dialogue with the aesthetics of postmodernism.
  2. Speculative realism draws on the history of genres and mixes generic forms.
  3. Speculative realism is invested in the Real while working in the mode of historical fantasy.
  4. Speculative realism explores the thematics of race, seeking a racial imaginary for twenty-first century America.

For the generation of writers born in the 1960s and ‘70s, the heroic era of the struggle for Civil Rights is not a personal memory but a matter of social history. At the same time, the ugly power of racism remains undiminished in American society, as the vicious killings of unarmed black men and the unmitigated pattern of assault on the community of undocumented Latino men and women over the past decade unambiguously demonstrate.  In the post-Civil Rights era, and now in what some are calling the post-Obama era, faced with the unapologetic return to white supremacist ideologies among growing sectors of the American public, numerous social critics, writers, and artists are asserting the need for a renewed racial imaginary.   This perceived need for a twenty-first century racial imaginary that might allow for a deeper understanding of the relationships between race and social justice, race and identity, race and history requires American writers of color to invent a new “imaginary” for thinking about the nature of a just society and the role of race in its construction.

I wish to account for these four aspects common to the writings of contemporary ethnic writers and the defining aesthetic that results from the new racial imaginaries being forged around us. As a generational cohort, these authors share these characteristics not as a merely contingent assembly of features common to a vaguely defined spirit of the age but as matters that go to the heart of their aesthetic projects and their concern with a new racial imaginary.”

Distinguished Visiting Scholar Ramón Saldívar
Talk abstract: Speculative Realism, Genre, and Social Network Theory Post 45 U.S. Ethnic Fiction

The visit of Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Ramón Saldívar, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford is sponsored by the Department of of Romance Languages and Literatures in the School of Arts & Sciences and with support from the Office of the Provost, Distinguished Visiting Scholar fund.