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Second Arrivals

Landscape and Belonging in Contemporary Writing of the Americas
Sarah Phillips Casteel

BUY Cloth · 272 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813926384 · $65.00 · Aug 2007
BUY Paper · 272 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813926391 · $25.00 · Aug 2007

Diaspora studies have tended to privilege urban landscapes over rural ones, wanting to avoid the racial homogeneity, conservatism, and xenophobia usually associated with the latter. In Second Arrivals: Landscape and Belonging in Contemporary Writing of the Americas, Sarah Phillips Casteel examines the work of writers such as Derek Walcott, V. S. Naipaul, Jamaica Kincaid, Philip Roth, and Joy Kogawa, among others, to show how it expresses the appeal that rural and wilderness spaces can hold for the diasporic imagination.

Casteel proposes an alternative to postmodern celebrations of rootlessness, bringing together writers from the Caribbean and North America who uniquely reimagine the New World landscape from the vantage point of cultural and geographical dislocation. As represented in a range of genres and media—fiction, poetry, garden writing, and installation art—these alternative forms of belonging reinterpret New World nature as infused with history and as subject to competing claims, generating a new poetics of American place. The author’s transnational approach also gives significant attention to Canadian material, which has largely been overlooked in hemispheric studies of the literature of the Americas.

Contributing to the growing movement of comparative American studies, Second Arrivals will appeal to scholars and students of inter-American studies, Caribbean studies, Canadian studies, diaspora studies, postcolonial studies, and ecocriticism.


"This study of Anglophone and Francophone writers in North America and the Caribbean enlarges our understanding of diaspora as a historical reality, and as a conceptual matter. Casteel integrates modes of visual perception and expression, and references to particular visual artists, into her discussion of literary works, thus enriching the comparative landscape she herself surveys. Walter Benjamin notes that in Baroque drama, history merges into setting, and one learns that this is also the case in the literary works produced in this part of the Americas.—Lois Parkinson Zamora, University of Houston"In this work Sarah Casteel brilliantly examines the relationship between people and place across the Americas. By privileging fixed geographical locations, she lucidly critiques the exaggerated emphasis on displacement in current cultural theory. Her sophisticated articulation of the postcolonial pastoral in the Americas is certain to make a major contribution to the field of New World Studies.

J.Michael Dash, Professor of French, New York University

About the Author(s): 

Sarah Phillips Casteel is Assistant Professor of English at Carleton University.

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