Department of English

"From Gatsby to Google Earth: the Ephemeral Optics of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland"

Mon, January 28, 2013 | PAR 203

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Free and open to the public.  A talk by Sarah Wasserman, "From Gatsby to Google Earth: the Ephemeral Optics of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland" Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 from 4:30-6 pm in PAR 203.

About Sarah Wasserman

Sarah received her BA in Biology and English from Kenyon college and her MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago before joining the graduate program at Princeton in 2006. Her dissertation, Material Losses: Urban Ephemera in American Literature and Culture is an interdisciplinary study that explores the stories of loss told by the vanishing objects in American literature and culture from the beginning of the 20th century.  In uncovering the significance of the ephemeral object, her project brings together literary analysis, psychoanalysis, and material culture studies.

Sarah's dissertation research was supported by the Donald and Mary Hyde Fellowship for Dissertation Research in 2009. From 2010-1011 she was a visiting scholar at the JFK Institute of Free University in Berlin, Germany.  She co-chaired Princeton's 20th Century and Americanist Colloquia and served as the co-president of the Graduate Action Committee and the Working Group for Graduate issues.  In 2011, Sarah received a departmental fellowship to develop and teach a new undergraduate course, "All About Hitchcock" with Professor Anne Cheng.  She also received the Wayne C. Booth Graduate Student Prize for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Chicago in 2006.

Her essay, "Looking Away from 9/11: The Optics of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland" is forthcoming in Contemporary Literature.

From Princeton University Department of English.

About "From Gatsby to Google Earth: the Ephemeral Optics of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland"

What does it mean to mourn (after) 9/11? Can we reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, without lapsing into nationalist narratives or what Joseph O’Neill’s protagonist calls “cheap longing” in his 2008 novel, Netherland?  This talk traces the nostalgic dimensions of the response to 9/11, considering the visual, spatial, and affective means through which the events have been represented.  I turn to O’Neill’s novel as an example of how such nostalgia may be unmoored by a narrative of sustained departure.  My reading of the novel focuses on the new ways of seeing that O’Neill depicts in order to disengage the events of 9/11 from a nationalist fixation on the past. The novel’s optics also work to unsettle the fantasies of national unity that sprang up in the wake of 9/11 by focusing on unresolved questions of racial difference and assimilation, questions that are tied up with the novel’s concerns about longing and nationalist narratives.

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