(Un)Housing: Dwellings, Materiality, and the Self in American Literature
The project analyzes how American literature proposes that in those cases where the ideal of a socially sanctioned domestic space proves traumatic, hurtful, or antagonistic to the satisfactory constitution of free subjectivities, it is better to opt for a process of what Paula Geyh referred to as “unhousing”, that is, a movement to the margins of the relatively stable structures of society and the deconstructing of a unitary grounded subjectivity. If “unhousing” is understood as a gesture of the refusal to accept constricting, traumatizing, and damaging definitions of what a domestic space is all about, then unlearning –both individually and culturally– our ideals of the domestic space may hopefully result in freer subjects within what we might contemplate as not only living, but livable spaces, as well as in more sustainable, hospitable and, above all, habitable communities. The texts selected for our corpus indicate that old paradigms need to be pulled down so that new houses/subjectivities, new bonds and habitable domesticities may be constructed that are not dependent on owning, renting, or even residing in an actual physical house. These texts propose “unhousing” as the solution to the sets of expectations and requirements, when not demands, involved in the hegemonic definition of American house, American household, and the American feeling(s) of belongingness. These texts suggest we need spaces resulting from the acknowledgement of uncertainty and from leaving behind narratives of fixity and permanence, and from opening up to the community and to a greater experience of the larger world.
- To make a significant and original contribution to the field of American Literature, and to the growing interdisciplinary fields of Domestic Space Studies and Studies of the Home.
- To produce research results, in the form of publications, that intervene in the ongoing international scientific inquiry on the role of houses in the American literary imagination.
- To give maximum visibility to the results of our research by participating in national and international conferences, as well as by organizing a one-day symposium at the Universitat de Barcelona in mid-project and a final two-day international conference at the Universitat de Barcelona.
- To consolidate our collaborations with national and international researchers doing work in the field of domestic space studies as well as with specialists in the study of the specific authors and literary texts selected by the members of the team. The mobility of the researchers both at the national and international levels will advance the crosspollination of the two disciplines this project results from and is a contribution to: Domestic Space Studies and American Literature and Culture.