In Unsettled States, Dana Luciano and
Ivy G. Wilson present some of
the most exciting emergent scholarship in American literary and cultural
studies of the “long” nineteenth century. Featuring eleven essays from senior
scholars across the discipline, the book responds to recent critical challenges
to the boundaries, both spatial and temporal, that have traditionally organized
scholarship within the field. The volume considers these recent challenges to
be aftershocks of earlier revolutions in content and method, and it seeks ways
of inhabiting and amplifying the ongoing unsettledness of the field.
Written by scholars primarily working in the “minor” fields of critical race and ethnic studies, feminist and gender studies, labor studies, and queer/sexuality studies, the essays share a minoritarian critical orientation. Minoritarian criticism, as an aesthetic, political, and ethical project, is dedicated to finding new connections and possibilities within extant frameworks. Unsettled States seeks to demonstrate how the goals of minoritarian critique may be actualized without automatic recourse to a predetermined “minor” location, subject, or critical approach. Its contributors work to develop practices of reading an “American literature” in motion, identifying nodes of inquiry attuned to the rhythms of a field that is always on the move.