Cultural Studies Adjunct: Vivian Nun Halloran
I am a specialist in Caribbean literature and theory, but my research interests are profoundly interdisciplinary and include: popular culture, race and ethnicity studies, food studies, life writing, museum studies, travel literature and children’s literature. My book manuscript, Exhibiting Slavery: The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum, argues that Caribbean postmodern historical novels about slavery written in Spanish, English and French function as virtual museums, simultaneously showcasing and curating a collection of ‘primary documents’ within their pages. By highlighting narrative ‘objects’ extraneous to their plot, such as excerpts from the work of earlier writers, allusions to specific works of art, the uniforms of maroon armies assembled in preparation of a military offensive, and accounts of slavery’s negative impact upon the traditional family unit in Africa or the United States, Caribbean postmodern historical novels produce a “museum effect” that simultaneously teaches and entertains their readers, thus prompting them to continue their own research beyond and outside of the text. I am at work on my next book project, Madeline Moments: Culinary Memoirs and the Making of Identity, in which I analyze an emerging field in autobiography studies, the culinary memoir, in the context of both international and ethnic American writers. By reading various culinary memoirs, I analyze how writers posit themselves as eating-subjects, a category that conflates the remembered pleasure of sampling a particular dish at a specific point in the past, and the endless possibility for reenacting that same pleasure through eating (and maybe preparing) the same dish over and over again. These memoirs also offer one further mimetic feature that separates them from non-food-themed autobiographies: the inclusion of actual recipes within their pages means that readers can have an interactive experience that goes beyond sympathizing with or imagining the writer’s memories of his or her past.