“WHERE WILD WOMEN GROW”: NATURE, WILDNESS, AND THE SEARCH FOR IDENTITY IN TONI MORRISON’S JAZZ

This paper presents wildness as an agent that can free African-American characters from the toxic, controlling ‘tracks’ (e.g., rail, subway, exploitative record labels) of the City (Harlem). Although critics have explored the ways in which the City in Toni Morrison’s Jazz is oppressive, I discuss the oppression of citified tracking as a contradiction of the natural, spontaneous, and wild form that mimics jazz music. Although the characters face exploitation in the City, their deterioration is not a result of the City itself (sometimes a site of possibility and hope for African-Americans migrating North) but of the toxic ways in which they interact with the City. Ultimately, Morrison demonstrates the importance of maintaining one’s African-American Southern rural roots and of creating one’s own tracks. By examining the exploitation and subsequent healing the characters experience in the City, this paper suggests that African-Americans in present-day cities can overcome some of the oppression of capitalist urban centres by avoiding the toxic, urban ‘tracks’ that seek to control them. By discussing African-American issues of identity and individuality, especially in terms of their connection with nature, this paper contributes to narrative inclusivity and the merging of disciplines.

Read Article →

DISABILITY’S ‘PINOCCHIO STORY’: A MODERN CRISIS OF THE DISABLED IDENTITY

“Disability’s `Pinocchio Story`: A Modern Crisis and How to Begin its End” will express an understanding of the disabled identity as internally and eternally schismatic and suggest the disabled occupy a fascinating position of alterity. Like Pinocchio, however, the desire to be something other than what we are, as disabled, is continually threatening our future as an identity group. Part of this threat arrives from inside ourselves, and another hails from technological innovation in a digital world. These threats are expressed in the desire to `pass` or hide our disabled reality in both online and personal spaces, as well as in the question of birthing ethics and designer children. As such, this paper will complicate a recent study on the capacity for disability to be minimized or hidden online (by Bowker and Tuffin) while interrogating whether or not this tendency ought to be viewed with positivity. It will also offer a view of the disabled future that faces potential deletion via technological change. After clarifying this modern crisis, this work will seek to offer a different entry point into understanding the disabled identity which may summon new forms of empowerment. By utilizing analysis of James Burger’s notions on the relationship between disabled birth and identity catastrophe, this paper will work to embrace the unique position of the disabled as that which already faces ends, decay and damage and rises up from it rather than stealing away from its realities. Additionally, utilizing notions of the body helmed by Gilles Deleuze, as well as an understanding of exilic experience brought on by Mimi Thy Nguyen, I will come to the conclusion that the disabled identity has the capacity to operate from positions of damage, exile and potential deletion to advance powerful philosophical conceptions of the self.

Read Article →