Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities
2007—2008 Forum on Origins
Assistant Professor, English, West Chester University
Feeling English? Towards an Emotionology of Origin
While conceptions of a pure and ultimate origin have become less and less fashionable in the academic humanities, they have become increasingly widespread within popular political and cultural discourses of affiliation, belonging and identity. In Britain, the emergence of a richly diverse multicultural society has given rise to a literature which celebrates migrancy and diaspora, yet at the same time British culture has witnessed a resurgence of an ethnically exclusive language of origin associated with ‘Englishness’. Drawing on critical voices from within postcolonial studies which caution against too easily discounting the question of origin, Professor MacPhee will argue in his book project for a renewed attention to the desire for rootedness, location, persistence, and return within contemporary British literature and culture. The project will explore how recent articulations of migrancy, multiculturalism, and national identity may map territories of belonging somewhere between the polarities of a pure origin and an absolute rootlessness.