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In response to the latest COVID-19 surge, spring semester classes will take place remotely through January 30, 2022.

Professor Jude Nixon Publishes Edited Volume

Interview with the Center for Research and Creative Activities

Professor Jude Nixon has recently published an edited volume, Becoming Home: Diaspora and the Anglophone Transnational with Vernon Press. The book is a collection of essays that explores “national identity, migration, exile, colonialism, postcolonialism, slavery, race, and gender in the literature of the Anglophone world.” The CRCA recently had the privilege of interviewing Professor Nixon about the collection.

 [CRCA] Where did the idea for the book begin, and what was did the research for the project look like?

[Nixon] I had given a talk on the subject of diaspora and the transnational at a conference in Washington, DC. Unaware to me, someone from Vernon Press was in the audience, and so wrote afterwards inviting me to do an edited collection on the subject. I agreed, and solicited the help of my colleague and long-time friend from Italy, Mariaconcetta Costantini, to join me as coeditor of the volume. She agreed to do so. The goal was then to craft a call for proposal (cfp) in various venues to solicit a one-page proposal. We received perhaps around 50 submissions, then made the decision to move the best ones to the next phase, requesting now a completed chapter, but without the guarantee of publication till we reach the peer-review stages. We were now down to 15 such submissions. Once they arrived, we sent them out to 8 peer-reviewers to determine acceptance, rejection, or accepted with revision. 10 of them were in the accepted with revision stage. The rest were judged unacceptable because they would require too much revision and time. We finally settled on 8 chapters by an international group of scholars, and began the difficulty work because of the Covid challenges and with limited access to offices and libraries. So we had to be flexible with our deadlines.

[CRCA] When was the book published?

It was published last month although the projected date on the volume is March 2022. The publisher is Vernon Press, which has both an office in Delaware and the main office in Malaga, Spain.

[CRCA] What is the main takeaway you want to share from the book?

The volume examines the diaspora as an important cultural phenomenon in the formation of national identities and in the search to realize forms of transnationalism. Because the dispersion of people (the term lifted out of the classical Jewish unhomely experience and quest for a home), what one author in our volume calls the “diasporic phenomena” and considers colonialism as the “common experience of the new world,” we wanted to explore the disparate ways emigrants writing in English experience and conceptualize whether in fiction or in real life the diasporic and transnational phenomena. The informing idea behind the volume is the recognition that the literature of every period, whether the stories from the bible, the Orient, Africa, or Homeric related accounts, pursues this grand mythus—that of travel and migration in search of a place to call home. For people of the diasporas, that quest often involves leaving the home they know (if home it was in the first place), hoping in this dispersion to find a transnational home abroad. This is the experience of all people, even indigenous groups who move, say, from one area to another to settle or resettle. But the volume, whose dust jacket is an image of a chained Columbus, argues that it was his imagination, desire, and adventurism that unleashed untold deterritorialization of people who through imperialism or colonialism were forced to leave their original homeland. Put differently, the volume aims to explore the sundry ways culture and Anglophone literature by colonized subjects and emigrants negotiate diasporic spaces to create what Benedict Anderson sees as “imagined communities,” or what Homi Bhabha calls home, a place uncannily oscillating between estrangement and engagement. That basically is the goal and takeaway. Of my now five books, this one is easily the most personal and most emotionally satisfying because of my identity as a diasporic and transnational subject seeking to locate a home abroad while maintaining ties to the homeland. This is realized by the title of the book, Becoming Home, which carries the idea that home is not a given but contingent and always in a state of becoming.

[CRCA] So what's next for you in terms of research? What projects are you currently working on? 

I am on sabbatical in spring 2022, which will allow me time to undertake a series of small projects, such as book chapters I have agreed to write, one of them for a Cambridge University Press publication. There is also ongoing work with an English colleague on editing two volumes of the unpublished diaries of Henry Parry Liddon. But the main goal of the sabbatical is to bring to near completion a book on Race and the Victorians, which examines the ways key Victorians contributed to nineteenth-century racialist discourse during the height of imperialism and at a time when an emerging democracy in England was being negotiated and black enfranchisement was being debated in the slave colonies of the Americas and the Caribbean. There are chapters on Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, the Brontë, and Charles Darwin. Commencing with a treatment of the formation of the London Anthropological Society and the directions modern science would take, which informed nineteenth-century perceptions of race, the volume will also show how prominent Victorian writers, including the seminal Victorian travel writings of Anthony Trollope, The West Indies and the Spanish Main (1859), Charles Kingsley, A Christmas in the West Indies (1871), and James Anthony Froude, The English in the West Indies (1888), reflected and shaped Victorian debates on and attitudes to race.

Thank you, Professor Nixon, for taking the time to answer our questions and congratulations on your publication!

Evea Raye
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