Sunday, September 30, 2012

Greek American Studies Resource Portal – Fall 2012 update


The Transnational Studies Committee has now compiled its latest update of The Greek American Studies Resource Portal. The new material will soon be incorporated into the existing Portal (http://mgsa.org/Resources/port.html)

We list the update below for convenient perusal.

Lia Kindinger, committee member
Yiorgos Anagnostou, Peter Jeffreys, Co-Chairs


The Greek American Studies Resource Portal – Fall 2012

Anthropology and Cultural Studies

b) Anthropology and Cultural Studies - Book Reviews

Papailias, Penelope. Rev. of Contours of White Ethnicity: Popular Ethnography and the Making of Usable Pasts in Greek America, by Yiorgos Anagnostou. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 30.1 (2012): 144-7.

Zervas, Theodore G. Rev. of The Greek American Community of Essex County, New Jersey, by John Antonakos. Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 38.1-2 (2012): 132.

Autobiographies – Memoirs – Biography

Constant, Constance M. Austin Lunch: Greek-American Recollections. River Vale: Cosmos, 2005.

Daniels, Elaine Makris. Growing Up Greek in South Bend: The Early Years 1926-1964. Gaithersburg: Tegea Press, 2001.

Halo, Thea. Not Even My Name. New York: Picador, 2000.

Hayes, Philia Geotes. Twice My Child. From the Aegean to the American Midwest: The Stories of Five Generations of Island Mothers. N.p., 2010.

Kalafatas, Michael N. The Bellstone: The Greek Sponge Divers of the Aegean. Hanover: Brandeis UP, 2003.

Kulukundis, Elias. The Feasts of Memory: Stories of a Greek Family. 2nd ed. Portsmouth: Randall, 2003.

Matsakis, Aphrodite. Growing Up Greek in St. Louis. Chicago: Arcadia, 2002.

Sarrinikolaou, George. Facing Athens: Encounters with the Modern City. New York: North Point, 2004.

Thomopoulos, Nick T. 100 Years: From Greece to Chicago and Back. Bloomington: Xlibris, 2011.

Vlanton, Jennie C. 761 Aubert Avenue: My Greek American Sanctuary. Lincoln: iUniverse, 2007.

b) Autobiographies – Memoirs – Biography - Scholarship

Xinos, Ilana. “Narrating Captivity and Identity: Christophorus Castanis’ The Greek Exile and the Genesis of the Greek-American.” Transcultural Localisms: Responding to Ethnicity in a Globalized World. Eds. Yiorgos Kalogeras, Eleftheria Arapoglou and Linda Manney. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2006. 203-20.

c) Autobiographies – Memoirs – Biography - Reviews

Alexiou, Nicholas. Rev. of My Detroit: Growing up Greek and American in Motor City, by Dan Georgakas. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 30.1 (2012): 147-9.

Panourgiá, Neni. “Effacing Athens.” Rev. of Facing Athens: Encounters with the Modern City, by George Sarrinikolaou. The National Herald, May 26, 2007. 16-7.

Sutton, Dan. Rev. of The Bellstone: The Greek Sponge Divers of the Aegean by Michael N. Kalafatas. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 21.2 (2003): 294-97.

Blogs and Resource Portals

a) Blogs

“The Pappas Post” (entries on various Greek American topics, including diaspora, society, and culture)
http://www.pappaspost.com/greek_america

“The Greek Reporter” (various entries concerning Greek American topics such as economy, history, and events, also entries on Greek topics in Europe, Australia and across the world) http://greekreporter.com/about/

b) Resource Portals
“Anistoriton” (publishes research papers from faculty and encourage the submission of well written and researched studies from graduate and advanced undergraduate students as well as from independent scholars) http://www.anistor.gr/english/enback/index.htm

Comedy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axkzcO2511w&feature=endscreen&NR=1
(interview with comedian Yannis Pappas)

Dissertations and Theses

Kyrou, Alexandros K. “Greek Nationalism and Diaspora Politics in America, 1940-1945: Background Analysis of Ethnic Responses to Wartime Crisis.” Diss. Indiana University, 1993.

Lillios, Emmanuel Nicholas. “The Relationship Between Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help, Religious Orientation, and Greek Orthodox Religiosity.” Diss. University of Iowa, 2010.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of the relationship that attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help have with religiosity and religious orientation among members of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church in the United States. In addition, this study also investigated the nature of the relationship that confessional involvement has with the following variables: intrinsic religious orientation, extrinsic religious orientation, religiosity, attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help, and ethnic background. This is important because Greek Americans, for reasons perhaps related to culture and religion, have historically displayed a reticence to seek professional psychological help when there are psychological problems. There is a paucity of research on the role religiosity and religious orientation has on seeking professional help for mental health problems. Taking a sample from the members of an urban, large-sized Greek Orthodox parish, participants will complete a questionnaire consisting of demographic data, the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help scale (ATSPPH) short form-revised (Fischer & Farina, 1995); the New Indices of Religious Orientation scale (NIRO) short form (Francis, 2007); and the Christian Orthodox Religiousness Scale (CORS) (Chliaoutakis et al., 2002). The results will be analyzed to provide information useful in understanding the relationship between religiosity, religious orientation and attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help among members of the Greek Orthodox Church. Implications of these findings and suggestions for further research will be discussed.

Tsiartsionis Karapanagiotis, Fay. “Greek-American Couples: Examining Acculturation, Egalitarianism and Intimacy.” Diss. Drexel University, 2008.

Film

c) Film Scholarship

Georgakas. Dan. “Kazan, Kazan.” Cineaste 36.4 (Fall 2011), 4-9.

Kalogeras, Yiorgos. “Retrieval and Invention: The Adaptation of Texts and the Narrativization of Photographs in Films on Immigration.” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 29.2 (2011): 153-70.

Globalization, Transnationalism, Diaspora

Bucuvalas, Tina.“The Greek Communities of the Bahamas and Tarpon Springs: An

Intertwined History.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 38.1-2 (2012): 29-70.

Gotsi, Georgia. Η διεθνοποίηση της φαντασίας: σχέσεις της ελληνικής με τις ξένες λογοτεχνίες τον 19º αιώνα (The Internationalization of Imagination: Relations of Greek with Foreign Literatures in the 19th Century.) Gutenberg, 2010.

Koundoura, Maria. Transnational Culture, Transnational Identity: The Politics and Ethics of Global Culture Exchange. London: I.B. Tauris, 2012.

b) Globalization, Transnationalism, Diaspora - Reviews

Kindinger, Evangelia. Rev. of Women, Gender, and Diasporic Lives: Labor, Community, and Identity in Greek Migrations, by Evangelia Tastsoglou. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 37.8 (2011): 1291-1293.

Mike, Mairi. Rev. of Η διεθνοποίηση της φαντασίας: σχέσεις της ελληνικής με τις ξένες λογοτεχνίες τον 19º αιώνα (The Internationalization of Imagination: Relations of Greek with Foreign Literatures in the 19th Century), by Georgia Gotsi. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 29.2 (2011): 300-2. [in Greek]

Greek American Canon

This list consists of seminal texts that define Greek American Studies as presented by Dan Georgakas in his article "Toward a Greek American Canon" (Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 31.2 [2005]).

Antoniou, Mary. “Welfare Activities Among the Greek People in Los Angeles.” Master’s Thesis (1939). University of South California.

Burgess, Thomas. Greeks in America: An Account of Their Coming, Progress, Customs, Living and Aspirations. Boston: Sherman, French, and Company, 1913.

Callinicos, Constance. American Aphrodite: Becoming Female in Greek America. New York: Pella Publishing Company, 1990.

Castanis, Christophorus Plato. The Greek Exile, or A Narrative of the Captivity and Escape of Christophorus Plato Castanis, during the Massacre on the Island of Scio by the Turks, together with Various Adventures in Greece and America. 1851. New York: Cultural Chapter of the Chian Federation, 2002.

Contopoulos, Michael. The Greek Community of New York City: Early Years to 1910. New Rochelle: A. D. Caratzas, 1992.

Counelis, James Steve. Inher itance and Change in Orthodox Christianity. Scranton: University of Scranton Press, 1995.

Economidhou, Maria. E Ellines Tis Amerikis Opos Tous Eidha (The Greeks in America as I Saw Them). New York: Divry Publishing, 1916. [in Greek]

Georgakas, Dan and Charles C. Moskos. “The Greek American Experience.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora (Special Issue) 16.1-4 (1989): 5-8.

---. New Direc tions in Greek American Studies. New York: Pella Publishing Company, 1991.

----. Greek America at Work. New York: Labor Resource Center of Queens College and Greek American Labor Council, 1992.

Hatzidimitriou, Constantine. Founded on Freedom and Virtue: Documents Illustrating the Impact in the United States of the Greek War of Independence, 1921-1829. New Rochelle: A.D. Caratzas, 2003.

Karanikas, Alexander. Hellenes & Hellions: Modern Greek Characters in American Literature. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

Kopan, Andrew. Education and Greek Immigrants in Chicago, 1892-1973: A Study in Ethnic Survival. New York: Garland Publishing Co. Inc., 1990.

Kourvetaris, George. Studies on Greek Americans. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Laliotou, Ioanna. Transatlantic Subjects: Acts of Migration and Cultures of Transnationalism Between Greece and America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Moskos, Charles C. Greek Americans: Struggle and Success. New Brunswick: Transaction Press, 1989.

Orfanos, Spyros, ed. Reading Greek America: Studies in the Experience of Greeks in the United States.
New York: Pella Publishing Company, 2003.

Papanikolas Helen. Toil and Rage in a New Land: The Greek Immigrants in Utah. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1970.

---. Emily-George. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987.

---. An Amulet of Greek Earth: Generations of Immigrant Folk Culture. Athens, OH: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2002.

Papanikolas, Zeese. Buried Unsung: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1982.

Peck, Gunther. Reinventing Free Labor: Padrones and Immigrant Workers in the North American West-1880-1828. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Petrakis, Harry Mark. Reflections: A Writer's Life, A Writer's Work. Chicago: Lake View Press, 1983.

Psomiades, Harry J. and Alice Scourby, eds. The Greek American Community in Transition. New York: Pella Publishing Company, 1982.

Scourby, Alice. The Greek Americans. Boston: Twayne Press, 1984.

Thomopoulos, Elaine, ed. Greek Pioneer Women of Illinois. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing 2000.

Tsemberis, Sam J., Harry J. Psomiades, and Anna Karpathakis, eds. Greek American Families: Traditions and Transformations. NY: Pella Publishing Company, 1999.

Xenides, J. P. The Greeks in America. NY: George H. Dorman Company, 1922.

Greek American Studies

Georgakas, Dan. “Greek American Studies in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 38.1-2 (2012): 7-28.

---. “Toward a Greek American Canon.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 31.2 (2005): 7-28.

History

c) History and Historiography Scholarship

Lagos, Taso G. “Poor Greek to ‘Scandalous’ Hollywood Mogul: Alexander Pantages and the Anti-Immigrant Narratives of William Randolph Hearst’s Los Angeles Examiner.” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 30.1 (2012): 45-74.

Trent, James W., Jr. The Manliest Man: Samuel G. Howe and the Contours of Nineteenth-Century American Reform. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012.

The book explores Howe’s efforts for social reform. Chapter 2 covers Howe’s involvement in the Greek War of Independence between 1824 and 1830, and Chapter 7 recounts his return to Greece in 1867 to support the Rebellion in Crete.

d) History Reviews

Bowman, Steve. Rev. of Confronting the Greek Dictatorship in the U.S., by Orestis E. Vidalis. Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora38.1-2 (2012): 133.

Identity & Immigration

Christou, Anastasia and Russell King. “Migrants Encounter Migrants in the City: The Changing Context of ‘Home’ for Second-Generation Greek-American Return Migrants.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 30.4 (December 2006): 816-35.

---. “Cultural Geographies of Counter-Diasporic Migration: Perspectives from the Study of Second-Generation ‘Returnees’ to Greece.” Population, Space and Place 16 (2010): 103-19.

Literature and Poetry

c) Poetry

Αναγνώστου, Γιώργος. Διασπορικές διαδρομές. Αθήνα: Απόπειρα, 2012.

Η ποιητική συλλογή Διασπορικές διαδρομές προτείνει μια χαρτογράφηση της σύγχρονης ελληνοαμερικανικής μετανάστευσης. Κεντρικές συντεταγμένες της είναι οι ποικίλοι επαναπροσδιορισμοί του μετανάστη με το «άλλο» και το «αλλού». Πώς το διαφορετικό ορίζεται σε οικείο; Πώς το οικείο διαμορφώνεται σε αποχρώσεις ξένου; Πώς καλλιεργεί κανείς τη συνέχεια σε μια εμπειρία που έχει την ασυνέχεια ως συνθήκη. http://apopeirates.blogspot.com/2012/04/blog-post_20.html

Kalamaras, George. Your Own Ox-head Mask as Proof. Brooklyn, New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010.

Rouskas, Basil. Redrawing Borders: Selected Poems. Georgetown: Finishing Line Press, 2010.

d) Poetry Reviews

Kenny, Adele. Rev. of Redrawing Borders: Selected Poems, by Basil Rouskas. Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 38.1-2 (2012): 127-29.

Kostos, Dean. Rev. of Your Own Ox-head Mask as Proof, by George Kalamaras. Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 38.1-2 (2012): 130-31.

e) Literature and Poetry Scholarship

Gatzouras, Vicky. “Negotiating the Hyphen: Ethnic and Female Identity in The Priest Fainted by Catherine T. Davidson.”Collusion and Resistance: Women Writing in English. Ed. Kerstin W. Shands. Flemingsberg: Sodertorns Hogskola, 2002. 174-188.

Kindinger, Evangelia. “Of Dópia and Xéni: Strategies of Belonging in Greek American Return Narratives.” Journal of Mediterranean Studies 20.2 (2011): 389-415.

---. “‘I was a tourist and a comer-home all simultaneously’: Crossing Borders in Greek American Return Writing.”Transnational American Studies. Ed. Udo J. Hebel. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter: 2012.

McInery, Dennis Q. “Love and Death in the Fiction of Harry Mark Petrakis.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 38.1-2 (2012): 99-126.

Tsimpouki, Theodora. “Bi- or Mono-Culturalism?: Contemporary Literary Representations of Greek-American Identity.” On the Road to Baghdad or Traveling Biculturalism: Theorizing a Bicultural Approach to Contemporary World Fiction. Ed. Gönül Pultar. Washington D. C.: New Academia Publishing, 2005. 15-26.

Sociology

Balodimas-Bartolomei, Angelyn “Greek American Identities in the 21st Century: A Generational Approach.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 38.1-2 (2012): 71-98.

Constantinou, Stavros T. “Profiles of Greek Americans.” Geographical Identities in America: Race, Place, and Space. Eds. Kate Berry and Martha Henderson. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2002. 92-115.

---. “The Persistence of Greek American Ethnicity.” Race, Ethnicity and Place in a Changing America, 2nd edition. Eds. John Frazier, Eugene L. Tettey-Fio, and Norah F. Henry. Binghamton: State University of New York Press, 2011. 57-70.

Constantinou, Stavros T. and Milton E Harvey. "The Persistence of Greek American Ethnicity Among Age Cohorts Under Changing Conditions.” Race, Ethnicity and Place in a Changing America. Eds. John Frazier and Eugene L. Tettey-Fio. Binghamton: Global Academic Publishing, 2006. 339-352.

Canada

Resource Portals

“Greek Canadian History Project”
http://archives.library.yorku.ca/gchp/

Australia

Amanatides, Dina. Dreams of Clay Drops of Dew: Selected Poems. Melbourne: Owl Publishing, 2011.

Frangouli-Nickas, Eleni. Athina and Her Daughters: A Memoir of Two Worlds. Melbourne: Owl Publishing, 2009.

Kalamaras, Vasso. Expatriates: Contemporary Australian Tales. Melbourne: Owl Publishing, 2011.

Karalis, Vrasidas. Recollections of Mr Manoly Lascaris. Blackheath, Australia: Brandl & Schlesinger, 2008.

Kefala, Antigone. Sydney Journals: Reflections 1970-2000. Artamon, NSW: Giramondo, 2008.

Riak, Patricia. “Cross-Cultural Children in Melbourne: Thoughts of Getting Married in Greek- and Ukranian-Australian Families.” Greek Research in Australia: Proceedings of the Biennial International Conference of Greek Studies, Flinders University June 2007. Eds. E. Close, G. Couvalis, G. Frazis, M. Palaktsoglou, and M. Tsianikas. Adelaide: Flinders University of South Australia, 2009. 193-206.

This paper is an ethnographic portrayal of Greek and Ukranian cross-cultural children in Melbourne at an age where marriage is a topic of discussion between parents and children, when ethnic traditions are discussed, comparing the views and expectations of these two ethnic cultures. Parents mention their pre-migration experiences of marriage, also encompassing their parents’ life stories. Marriage, as a rite of passage, is explained through the theory of Arnold van Gennep.

Trakakis, Nick, ed. Aegean Light: Poetry by Second-Generation Greek-Australians. Melbourne: Arcadia, 2011.

Warhaft-Holst, Gail. Reviews of Dreams of Clay Drops of Dew: Selected Poems by Dina Amanatides, Athina and Her Daughters: A Memoir of Two Worlds by Eleni Frangouli-Nickas, Expatriates: Contemporary Australian Tales by Vasso Kalamaras, Sydney Journals: Reflections 1970-2000 by Antigone Kefala, and Southern Sun, Aegean Light: Poetry by Second-Generation Greek-Australians by Nick Trakakis. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 30.1 (2012): 137-44.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Αχάριστη - Vassilikos Διασκευάζει Τσιτσάνη


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHLvsPVj84s

Δε ρώτησες τόσον καιρό για μένα
πώς πέρασα, τρελή, στην ξενιτιά
σ' αγάπησα, δυστύχησα για σένα
και σέρνομαι, κακούργα, μακριά

Τα βάσανά μου μ' έριξαν στα ξένα
και μ' έχουν της ζωής κατάδικο
αχάριστη, δεν πόνεσες για μένα
κι αυτό το βρίσκω να 'ναι άδικο

Μου είπανε πως ζεις ευτυχισμένη
θεότρελη, στα πλούτη κολυμπάς
μα μια κατάρα πάντα θα σε δέρνει
του προδομένου ο πόνος της καρδιάς

Στίχοι: Βασίλης Τσιτσάνης, Βλάχος
Μουσική: Βασίλης Τσιτσάνης, Βλάχος
Πρώτη εκτέλεση: Ιωάννα Γεωργακοπούλου & Στελλάκης Περπινιάδης & Βασίλης Τσιτσάνης, Βλάχος ( Τερτσέτο )

Άλλες ερμηνείες: 
Βαγγέλης Περπινιάδης
Γιάννης Πουλόπουλος
Χαρούλα Αλεξίου
Βασίλης Παπακωνσταντίνου


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Embracing the Humanities and the Arts: A Cultural Renaissance in Greek America?

Essay for Greek Ethos, a Community Publication in Columbus, Ohio
Yiorgos Anagnostou (Issue 15, Fall 2012)


How do we celebrate a community’s anniversary? Anniversaries are certainly occasions for reflection, inviting thinking about the past through the lens of the present. How has a community changed? Anniversaries call us to consider the possibilities imagined in the past and the achievements realized in the present.

To approach Greek America from this angle will illuminate constancy and change: The longevity but also adaptability of its institutions; the retention of a hyphenated identity more than a century since the era of mass Greek immigration; the struggle to slow the tide of language loss; the interest to understand how the next generation connects with their Greek and American affiliations; the effort to preserve the past.

Still, anniversaries call for an alternative, even if neglected, line of inquiry: To chart new developments, and ponder on their significance. They could serve as milestones, in other words, to contemplate future directions for a community.

A single, yet powerful, development makes this kind of exploration worthwhile. A considerable sector of the Greek-American “next generation” (second, third, and beyond) embraces the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences, to produce fascinating accounts about identity and history. If the immigrant generation, understandably, adopted by and large a pragmatic view on education as a means for mobility, the offspring, many entrenched in the middle class, turn to creative pursuits. It is of interest to chart this landscape and imagine its future potential as a way of celebrating this anniversary.

Greek American studies presents itself as a promising point of departure for this discussion. The increasing output of scholarly work on Greek America has prompted the initiative to compile this corpus and make it available to the public. The result is a web resource, The Greek American Studies Resource Portal. If you are interested in learning about the experience of Greek-American youth visiting or settling in Greece, Greek immigrant women, or the history of Greek Orthodox liturgical music in the U.S., the Portal helps you locate informed analysis about all aspects of the Greek-American experience. Established under the umbrella of Modern Greek Studies Association, it is available at http://mgsa.org/Resources/port.html.

The Portal does not merely feature scholarly work. It includes all kinds of Greek-American writings and performances produced outside the academy. It makes a point to list the latest work by comedians, novelists, amateur historians, filmmakers, bloggers, artists, documentary makers, and autobiographers, among others. For those who appreciate Greek America’s letters, enjoy its popular culture, or wish to start exploring this terrain, the Portal is an ideal resource for navigation. The site is updated twice annually.

I wish to draw attention to a particular development that stands out in the midst of this vibrant scene. In what could be seen as a promising literary trajectory, a new generation of authors writes about Greek America or Greece, earning great acclaim both in the United States and Greece. An early example of this trend is George Pelecanos’ highly praised crime fiction. Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Tryfon Tolides won the prestigious 1998 Yale Younger Poets prize. Most recently, Natalie Bakopoulos’s The Green Shore enjoys critical attention in both sides of the Atlantic. A new anthology of Greek-American poetry is now available (http://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/7516863), and a young Greek Californian is about to launch the Voices of Hellenism Project, a web literary venue (www.voicesofhellenism.org/index.html). Universities now hold readings of Greek-American Poetry.

We are witnessing an explosion of literary and scholarly interest in Greek America. Is this a lasting phenomenon, a cultural renaissance of sorts with some enduring power? Or is it merely the climax of fleeting fireworks to only dissipate once they dazzle us? History teaches against predictions. Who would have expected during the era of 100% Americanism, in the 1920s, that ethnic festivals would be the mainstay of American society in the 1990s and beyond? The longevity of cultural and artistic achievements depends not only on the energy and commitment of the individuals who make them happen but on a variety of factors, including supporting audiences and institutions. The future does not just happen, we have a saying in steering the direction of its happening.

It is the fragility of this process that makes the following question urgent: What is the place of Greek-American arts and letters in our lives? There is no way to tell without discussing these issues with Greek Americans themselves; without eliciting their point of view. But one thing is for certain. The visibility of arts and the letters leaves its stamp in national culture, adding yet another layer in the ways we imagine our future as Greek Americans.

The arts and scholarship are arduous endeavors, laborious pursuits that require perseverance and long-term commitment. In supporting them a reader extends one of the most precious gifts that the community of artists and scholars longs for: An audience that participates in the unfolding conversation of what it means to be a Greek American in the twentieth first century. 


Friday, September 21, 2012

A "Greek American" Noir in Utah





A retro image of Americana
historically real yet at the same time 
an echo
from an (unrealized) future 
in a parallel imagined history
of what "Greek America" could have
 almost been like
had 100% Americanism become the national paradigm

Many thanks to GK for bringing this to my attention


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reading the Hyphen in [Greek American] Poetry (excerpts from a book review essay)



Review of Dean Kostos, editor. Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry. Boston: Somerset Hall Press. 2008. Pp. 299. Softcover $19.95.

Greek-American poetry circulates in and across numerous venues, at times in quiet undercurrents, often in splashing waves that leave a mark on the U.S. literary landscape. Commonly discussed under the national rubric American, this poetry enjoys astounding recognition. Highbrow magazines host it. Committees award its merits. Anthologies include it. Reading and performing spaces make room for it. Translators toil between its stanzas, between its languages. Still, incredibly, the category Greek-American poetry is not as visible as the expectations set by its towering presence in the national literary scene would promise. Just imagine, Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry (Kostos 2008), the collection that concerns me in this essay, is the first anthology of its kind. Why is this the case? And what is Greek-American poetry anyway?
Pomegranate Seeds brings a thriving poetic production into focus. It compiles a total of 164 poems representing 49 authors. The majority of the corpus consists of compositions in English while selective pieces were originally written in Greek and presented in translation. A great many poems have been anthologized in collections of American poetry (The Best American Poetry 1997, The Now Voices, Best American Poetry); appeared in prestigious literary venues (New Yorker, The Yale Review, The Iowa Review, The Harvard Review, Paris Review); and won coveted accolades (The National Poetry Series, Rockefeller Fellow, NEA Fellow in Poetry, Open Voice Poetry Award). Several appear in print for the first time, making for an anthology that accommodates both accomplished and new poetic voices.
The editorial decision to classify poets who are already canonized as national under the category ethnic merits reflection. What is the significance of coding an "American" poet as a "Greek-American" one? What is at stake in hyphenating national poetry? This is not an innocent redefinition, as "ethnic writing" is often devalued by mainstream criticism. In literary hierarchies, hyphenated literature is valued, more often than not, for its ethnographic "authenticity"—the "ethnic experience" it records—rather than its literary qualities. As a result, the canon may exclude or marginalize writers exploring ethnic particularities. Or, it may not recognize alternative poetic attributes, given that the canon operates with aesthetic and ideological criteria reflecting the tastes and values of the dominant society. In this respect, it may altogether miss the operation of "difference" encoded within a poem.1 This is why authors with marked ethnic ancestry commonly shun the [End Page 279] label "ethnic writer." Because hyphenated writing connotes lesser literary value, dropping the hyphen is one strategy to compete for recognition in the nation's literary market place. Consequently, a poet who is biographically affiliated with ethnicity may textually suppress or even ostracize this affiliation from his work.2
Thus the renaming of American poetry as "Greek-American" undertakes a number of critical interventions. Pomegranate Seedscertainly aligns itself with recent cultural trends where certain hyphenated poetic traditions—African-American and Asian-American for instance—enjoy increasing legitimacy. It faces, however, the relatively scant visibility of Greek-American poetry. The various sites—scholarship, academic journals, magazines, internet sites, and books—where poetry is produced and discussed as Greek American are not as numerous as one would anticipate, given the multiplicity and vibrancy of poetic voices engaging, in one way or another, with Greek. In this respect, attaching a hyphen to these American poets strategically compensates for this imbalance, endowing "Greek-American poetry" with greater visibility.
Significantly, the hyphenation of national poetry shapes critical practice. It encourages analysis that is primarily set to explore the operation of the hyphen, that is the presence of cultural difference, in a text. Tellingly, Dean Kostos, the anthology's editor, connects poetry with the question of identity. His endeavor seeks "to map out a new terrain—a broader, more complex definition of what it means to be Greek-American" (18). Having "assiduously avoided embracing any style over another" (21) in the selection, he posits the hyphen as a navigation tool in the charting of the anthology: "Although it may no longer be fashionable to use it, I am interested in the hyphen that traditionally linked Greek and American because of its value as a metaphor—a little bridge between two worlds, two identities" (17). Elevating cultural connections as the overarching criterion for inclusion, the anthology undermines traditional definitions of ethnic or national poetry. We are far away here from the ideology of poetry as a culturally pure category defined by criteria such as language or nationality. Greek-American poetry, the editor proposes, consists of a textual corpus that raises questions of interconnections, of crossings across linguistic and cultural boundaries. Thus the anthology offers an expansive terrain, which is hospitable to poetry written in a plentitude of languages (Greek, English, or both), and to poems charting cultural interrelations, irrespective of a writer's ethnic affiliation or national identity.
If anthologies undertake their own canonizing of complex literary realities, reviews of anthologies carry out similarly containing practices. How to do justice to an anthology, and particularly a collection as inclusive as this one, in the space of a couple of pages? Previous reviews of Pomegranate Seeds have noted its plurality, identified recurrent themes in its selections—mythology, memory, home—and commented on its internal contradictions.3 For my purposes here I opt for an alternative practice, namely a close reading of two specific poems, George Economou's "An Evening in Kingfisher," and Hilary Sideris's "Geometry." My aim is to examine how these poems bring cultural worlds into conversation or tension with each other, how they forge links between or measure distances from the two components of the sign "Greek American." This investigation eventually guides my outline of a particular reading strategy that engages with [End Page 280] both the hyphen in poetry and the poetics of a text. I find it productive, therefore, to work with the editor's overarching conceptual framework, the hyphen.
I maintain, however, that it is necessary to move beyond the exclusive understanding of the hyphen as a link. The hyphen cannot always function as a bridge of uninterrupted ties. Cultural crossings, after all, encompass boundaries of difference. As Wendell Ayock poignantly emphasizes, the hyphen makes visible all kinds of incompatible differences, unbridgeable disparities that are impossible to combine in certain contexts. Moreover, difference is a function of power. Boundaries are policed, and powerful gatekeepers may determine which part of the hyphen is allowed expression: "Existing between two cultures, it [the hyphen] is an eternal bridge with barriers and guards at both ends" (cited in Tamburri 1991:43). We should therefore ask: what conditions enable the hyphen as a link in one instance and a barrier in another? And who negotiates the hyphen, and how?
I propose that charting the various contours of the hyphen requires a specific interpretive strategy, one that is attentive to both poetry itself and the operation of ethnicity in the text. This is because poetry and ethnicity, each in its own right, create something anew, producing novel arrangements. Poetry, in Plato's formulation, entails the art of making and remaking, forming and transforming. And ethnicity, it is now well established, involves a dynamic process of reinvention and reinterpretation, a production of new meanings. Critical entangling with the hyphen in poetry then calls for readings that investigate how poetic devices (form and tropes for example) shape ethnic identity, and how in turn ethnicity builds on poetic language to remake itself.4
A great deal is at stake in examining how poetry and ethnicity intersect. This kind of interpretive strategy holds the promise of contributing to our understanding of new ways of conceptualizing ethnicity and their social and political implications. In a world where the question of identity has assumed central stage, this production of new meanings helps us envision alternative ways of situating the self in relation to the hyphen, novel ways of experiencing and acting upon this world. Thus the category "Greek-American poetry" should be seen not as immutable, but as a strategic translation invested in producing new subject positions and in deepening our understanding of how American and Greek worlds interact with and shape each other.5
I begin the analysis by reflecting on the poem "An Evening in Kingfisher," a thinly disguised autobiographical piece by noted scholar and poet George Economou. Structuring the poem in dialogic form, the poet recalls an ordinary conversation between two strangers of different class and, as it turns out, cultural backgrounds. 
...
In conclusion, Pomegranate Seeds performs a particular function, namely the creation of a context to explore the operation of the hyphen in its textual corpus. This is to say that the anthology determines a particular kind of reading, a reading that seeks to identify intercultural connections. For instance, the question I asked regarding the speaker's feelings towards Greek in English in "Geometry" was raised only because the anthology elevates the hyphen as its conceptual center. This question could have been neglected were this poem featured in an anthology of American poetry. The hyphenation of poetry drives the criticism's focus in excavating the hyphen.
This turn toward the hyphen in poetry opens new cultural frontiers. As a sign producing novel combinations, the hyphen offers itself as a fertile domain for exploring the production of fresh meanings at the intersection of poetry and ethnicity. In turn, this emphasis in creating newness encourages analysis that is open to new configurations, attuned to the unexpected twists, turns, and mouthfuls through which the hyphen makes its way into the text of poetry, and the ways in which the text of poetry constructs the hyphen. It is important therefore to cultivate criticism that is carefully attuned to language and also ethnicity, poetics and culture. This is a critical route that promises to do justice to the hyphen lurking in what may appear, at first sight, as (almost) national poetry.

Acknowledgments.

I thank Gregory Jusdanis and Martha Klironomos for valuable comments, and Artemis Leontis for generous insights.

Notes

1. For a discussion of the containing function of American mainstream criticism and its treatment of specific Greek-American examples, see Kalogeras (1991).
2. Lamenting the lack of systematic critical attention for Italian-American poetry, Dana Gioia (1997) associates the turning away from the hyphen with a desire for greater professional and artistic recognition: "The brightest young Italian American writers and critics gravitate to mainstream academy and intellectual culture. That is where reputations are made and the greatest rewards are found. The new generation of Italian American intellectuals knows as well as their immigrant parents did that assimilation is the easiest road to success" (174).
3. I briefly note here the editor's unfortunate reference to "racial memory," to which he resorts in order to explain the regular appearance of mythological themes in the [End Page 288] poems. This is a discredited notion, and we must immediately abandon it. A more fruitful approach would ask for a historical explanation, tracing the ideological uses of mythology in Greek-American poetry at any specific time (how, for example, the rewriting of mythology has served feminist interests).
4. Appropriately, see the recent work of George Economou, whose invented poetic universe of an (non-existent) ancient Greek poet intersects with an ethnic poetics of creating links with the hyphen. Specifically, the fragment in this work serves as a trope to both produce poetry about the reconstruction of the ancient poet's past as well as narrate the writer's quest to recuperate his own family's fragmentary past, and claim a diaspora connection (Leontis 2010).
5. The notion of Greek-American poetry as translation undermines the approach of this category as a self-contained entity, independent from Greek, American, and other poetic traditions. This is the crucial point that Karen Van Dyck (2000) makes, working with the categories of immigration and translation to foster examination of "the interrelatedness of Greek, Greek American, and American literatures, and to expand what might count for Greek or Greek American or American literature." Along these lines, George Kalamaras's "Looking for My Grandfather with Odysseas Elytis," a narrative poem inPomegranate Seeds which implicates a quest for ethnic roots with surrealist aesthetics and Odysseas Elytis's rendition of surrealism, offers itself for analyzing the hyphen at the intersection of multiple literary traditions.
6. Note that dialogism, a fundamental aspect in Asian-American poetry, "is closely related to the reconstruction of [ethnic] memory and history" (Piñero-Gil 2002:97).
7. A caveat is in order here. One must resist confusing the poet, one with a Greek surname, and the poetic persona, and assume that the latter, the speaker, is Greek. As contemporary literary criticism instructs, the operation of the hyphen must come into play within the text itself, not outside of it.
8. This situation presents of course an imperfect equivalence, as the sound of isosceles in Greek and English is not identical. Once again, inhabiting two languages at once brings about the issue of translation (see Van Dyck 2000).
9. On the notion of "doubleness" see Hall (1996).
10. Pioneer Cretan immigrants in Utah and Colorado, for instance, likened the regional mountain ranges with those in the ancestral island, producing affinity with the new place and thus alleviating the shock of their migration displacement. The meaning of place is denaturalized in the process of turning an American landscape into a point of reference for diaspora Cretan identity.

References Cited

Aaron, Daniel
1964 "The Hyphenated Writer and American Letters." Smith Alumnae Quarterly (July):213-217.
Gioia, Dana
1997 "What is Italian American Poetry?" In Beyond the Godfather: Italian American Writers on the Real Italian American Experience, edited by A. Kenneth Giongoli and Jay Parini, 167-174. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. [End Page 289]
Hall, Stuart
1996 "Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation." In Black British Cultural Studies: A Reader, edited by Houston A. Baker, Jr., Manthia Diawara, and Ruth H. Lindeborg, 210-222. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Kalogeras, Yiorgos D.
1991 "Greek American Literature: Who Needs It? Some Canonical Issues Concerning the Fate of an Ethnic Literature." In New Directions in Greek American Studies, edited by Georgakas, Dan and Charles C. Moskos, 129-141. New York: Pella Publishing Company.
Kostos, Dean, editor
2008 Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry. Boston: Somerset Hall Press.
Leontis, Artemis 2010 "Ο Ανάνιος του Κλείτορα ζει πια στο Google" ("Ananios of Kleitor now lives in Google"). Review of George Economou's Ananios of Kleitor: Poems & Fragments and their Reception from Antiquity to the Present (Shearsman Books 2009). The Athens Review of Books 9 (July-August): 24-25.
Piñero-Gil, Eulalia C.
2002 "Ceremonies of Dialogism in Asian American Poetry." In Asian American Literature in the International Context: Readings on Fiction, Poetry, and Performance, edited by Rocio G. Davis and Sami Ludwig, 97-107. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
Tamburri, Anthony Julian 1991 To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate: The Italian/American Writer: An "Other" American. Montreal: Guernica.
Van Dyck, Karen
2000 "Greek Poetry Elsewhere." Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism. Special Issue on Contemporary Greek Poetry, edited by Michalis Chryssanthopoulos, Ekaterini Douka-Kabitoglou, Lizy Tsirimokou. 8:81-98. [End Page 290]
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Yiorgos Anagnostou, Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 2011


The Ohio State University
There was an error in this gadget