My book manuscript in progress is titled “Islands of Memory: The Literary Politics of Aftermaths.” The book analyzes the modernist and postmodernist literary construction of traumatic memory in a formally comparative approach to the two cultural contexts with which my work is concerned: Israel and the Caribbean. I argue across the seven planned chapters that the filial agonism of modernists and postmodernists in these culturally “insular” societies assumes a highly politicized character because the oppositional ethos of an older generation of modernists was predicated on essential ontologies of the social collective that a younger generation rejects as inadequate to emergent traumatic narratives. Two of the seven planned chapters are approaching completion, two are in progress, and three have yet to be written.
An introductory first chapter, not yet written, will establish a comparative methodology for charting the relation of the authors under study to the work of central modernist figures in Caribbean and Hebrew literatures. A new chapter on Jamaica Kincaid’s relation to the feminist lineage of modernism is in progress and will form the second chapter. A much revised version of my recently published article on Glissant’s appraisal of Aimé Césaire and Négritude will serve as the core of the third chapter of the book. The fourth chapter is loosely based on research I conducted for my recent article on Glissant’s late writing and event theory. The fifth chapter, still to be written, considers Appelfeld’s most controversial, and still untranslated, novel as a powerful indictment of state manipulations of traumatic memory. The sixth chapter will be a revised version of my article on Appelfeld’s surprising literary outsiderhood. A seventh chapter, not yet written, will analyze the novels of Ronit Matalon, whose works center on the intersecting legacies of the Holocaust and Mizrahi marginalization in Ashkenazi-dominated Israel. The conclusion will revisit what Natalie Melas punningly calls “the ends of comparison,” foregrounding as she does figures rather than fields or loci of comparison.
I have several new projects waiting to claim my attention when that book is complete. I wish to write an essay on the increasingly noted young Jamaican poet Millicent Graham. She has consented to let me review as-yet unpublished poems that are part of a manuscript in progress, and I would also discuss her recently published book, The Damp in Things, as well as poems from other publications. My provisional argument is that her work pivots on a problem that goes largely unaddressed in academic Caribbean studies: the invisible social identity of educated single women in the Caribbean who are isolated by their relative economic and cultural success. I also have spoken with Broadview Press’s publisher, Marjorie Mather, about the possibility of my writing, perhaps in collaboration with another scholar, a new international or North American film history monograph that would trace stylistic lineages rather than national traditions or a continuous historical narrative. She has expressed interest, but the structure of the project is notional at this stage.