I am currently pursuing publication for a paper entitled "The Problematics of Black Culture in Claude McKay's Banjo". My research into this often-overlooked Harlem Renaissance classic explores geo-political borders, crossings and exiles. First published in April 1929, six months prior to the Black Tuesday collapse of the stock market, Banjo offers a prescient critique of American exceptionalism in its attempt to link racial crisis to neoliberal ideology through the lens of culture and race. Far from accepting the superiority of neoliberal and democratic ideals, the novel recasts these values as political rhetoric working to obscure nativist racism. My paper engages these concepts using the work of Herbert Marcuse and Hortense Spillers on culture and identity. In turn the novel sheds productive light on the contemporary anti-essentialist rejection of racial identity, including Spillers' calls for a return to race consciousness in the effort of a "global belonging". Where McKay's novel may be said to engage in a strategic essentializing the work offers readers a pragmatic model for Spiller's preferred discourse, particularly in its balance of acknowledged phenotypic markers and critical inquiry into their meaning and influence on the construction of social consequences.
I am currently developing research on the represention historical material in fiction. The paper-in-process examines the relationship between theories of historical fiction put forward by György Lukács and Philip Roth. Close readings of Toni Morrison's Belovéd and Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day illustrate the changing nature of historical representation in the novel over the last 50 years and clarify the tense relationship between contemporary historiography and the novel.