Thursday, January 18
Olmsted room, Mandelle Hall
Please join the Department of English as Visiting Assistant Professor Monique McDade discusses her presentation, Sui Sin Far’s Truth & American Literary Realism. The late nineteenth and early-twentieth century shift from romanticism to literary realism and naturalism is often recognized as a democratization of American literary production. The leading authors of these literary movements—William Dean Howells, Jack London, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser—are heralded for portraying Americans who were underrepresented in the romantic literary traditions and for paying close attention to the quotidian. However, Sui Sin Far explores how realism’s and naturalism’s literary aesthetics, which celebrate a perception of the “real” through observation, new narrative techniques, and diverse subjects, are used to contain rather than expand American identity. In her talk, Dr. McDade will argue that Sui Sin Far’s sketches disrupt dominant realist and naturalist novels’ literary structures and strategies to emphasize how ethnic and gendered individuals are stripped of their representative agency by a literary enterprise that emphasizes diversity as a means to control rather than expand Western-American identity.
Dr. Monique McDade graduated in 2020 with a PhD from the University of Nevada, Reno in English. Her research interests are in Western American women writers who intervene in the rhetorical settling of the western territories. In her recently published monography, California Dreams and American Contradictions: Women Writers and the Western Ideal (University of Nebraska Press, 2023), Dr. McDade argues for the ways a diverse set of Western American women writers trouble notions of “progress” and “progressive” identity that served to encourage westward expansion and which continue to justify a frontier ethic.