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  • 1.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Between Womanhood and Citizenship: A Conceptual-Historicist Approach to Antebellum Women's Literature of Protest2018Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    This study investigates the tension between the antebellum ideas of “womanhood” and “citizenship” as represented in three classic texts of women’s literature of protest: the “Declaration of Sentiments” of the Seneca Falls Convention, Margaret Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century, and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. After a brief discussion of what is meant by “literature of protest” and the reasons why these texts belong to this category, I proceed to read them and their historical context following a method inspired by Reinhart Koselleck’s history of concepts (Begriffsgeschichte); I approach “womanhood” and “citizenship” as concepts whose semantic fields can and should be analyzed in their diachronic and synchronic dimensions. Here, however, I will focus on the latter, in an attempt to account for conflicts as well as commonalities between them.

  • 2.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Conceptualizing "Americanness"2012Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    In sharp contrast with “Englishness”, which is an important category of scholarship on national identity in Britain, the notion of “Americanness” has suffered from chronic lack of conceptualization. Treated as if its meaning were self-evident, “Americanness” now features only sporadically and marginally in studies of US culture, where it is used as a synonym for “American identity” semantically subsumed to concepts such as “ideology”, “exceptionalism”, “whiteness”, and “masculinity”, depending on the author’s thesis and scholarly interests. No dedicated study of Americanness has been produced, at least nothing of the kind Englishness has engendered. Perhaps it is time we put it on the map of literary and American studies in a new, scholarly rigorous and dispassionate way.

    Within the methodological framework of conceptual history, I propose that “Americanness” might be viewed as a concept with a broad, albeit historically specific, semantic field. Today for example, “Americanness” grasps several historical objects and theoretical notions, serving as their common designator; among these, U.S. national identity, political culture, conflicts and negotiations along the lines of race, gender, ethnicity, class, and sexual preference, a national corpus of law, a higher education system, a system of government as well as an economic and financial system, world hegemony, popular culture, literary canon, and several varieties of English. Here, however, in order to investigate the conceptual quality of the term, I will focus on the diachronic dimension of “Americanness” and address the problem of its frequent confusion with the older notion of “Americanism”.

  • 3.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Constituting Americanness: A History of the Concept and Its Representations in Antebellum American Literature2015Bok (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    This book is based on my PhD dissertation, entitled Representations of the Concept of “Americanness” in the Canon of Antebellum American Literature. It is a work in cultural history and literary theory that suggests a fresh and potentially fruitful approach to the old notion of Americanness, an idea that lay at the foundation of American studies in mid-twentieth century, only to be exposed as “ideological fiction” by the New Americanists. Surprisingly, neither its advocates nor its critics have made the scholarly effort necessary to theorize or conceptualize Americanness. 

    The subtitle indicates what is distinctive about this project: this is a study of the concept of Americanness. Thus, following Reinhart Koselleck’s history of concepts (Begriffsgeschichte), I propose that “Americanness” is not an ordinary word, but a concept with a broad, albeit historically specific, semantic field. Thus, in the three decades before the Civil War, the semantic field of “Americanness” was constituted at the intersection of several concepts, in different stages of their respective histories; among these, nation, representation, individualism, sympathy, race, and womanhood. By tracing the representations of these concepts in literary texts of the antebellum era, paying attention to their overlapping with the rhetoric of national identification, I uncover some of the meaning of “Americanness” in that period. 

    As far as literary history writing is concerned, Begriffsgeschichte has a double potential: first, to explain the source of confusion between historically different semantic loads of the same concept and, second, to check the critic’s tendency to relativize concepts and therefore make the past a little too familiar. The concept-focused close reading of literary works of the past involves a reformulation of the text/context binary so as to account for contingencies without diminishing the importance of exegesis (a crippling tendency in contemporary literary studies); ultimately, this work aims to reconsider the relationship between history and literature.

    To lay out the meaning of “Americanness” I analyze a wide range of antebellum texts by Emerson, Melville, Thoreau, Douglass, Whitman, Stowe, Jacobs, Hawthorne, Poe, and Fuller, against the background of critical reception and recent scholarship. Thus, to college students and faculty, this book offers a period study of major American writers of the antebellum era.

  • 4.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Democracy and the Teaching of English at the University of GävleManuskript (preprint) (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this study is to investigate these practices, notions, and attitudes as they inform (and are carried out in) the teaching of English as an academic subject at the University of Gävle. The research questions are: 1) What are the conceptions of democracy in education among the English faculty at the University of Gävle? 2) Which norms, structures and practices are considered to foster democracy in higher education and which norms, structures and practices are considered real or potential challenges to democracy in higher education? 3) How does democracy fare in the teaching practice, i.e. in objectives, content, assessment, as well as in the implementation and course/lesson design? 4) What specific advantages does the teaching of English have for democratic education? 5) How well are the teachers acquainted with official documents that outline the University of Gävle’s policy on promoting and maintaining democracy in this institution? To answer these questions, semi-structured interviews have been conducted with four of the six teachers who made up the English faculty at the University of Gävle in the spring semester of 2017. The respondents’ answers and their subsequent analysis constitute the core of this qualitative research.

  • 5.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    English-Language Literature Teaching and Democratic (Higher) Education2017Konferensbidrag (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    Out of the values, norms, and practices that constitute the semantic field of democracy, this study hones in and reflects on those that are relevant for the goals and principles of higher education in the national context. Furthermore, the scope of this study is narrowed down to the teaching of English-language literature in Swedish institutions of higher education. Given the relatively high degree of autonomy that the teaching of literature has within the academic subject of English and the wide diversity of lecturers’ and professors’ research interests and backgrounds, it is important to account for the educators’ notions of, and attitudes toward, democratic education and democratic values as well as for the ways in which those values are reflected in their teaching practice. The main questions are: 1) Which norms, structures and practices are considered to foster democracy in higher education and which norms, structures and practices are considered real or potential challenges to democracy in higher education? 2) What specific advantages does the teaching of English-language literature have for democratic education? 3) How do the democratic values fare in the teaching practice (in objectives, content, assessment, as well as in the implementation and course/lesson design)? Empirical evidence will be gathered through semi-structured interviews with English-language literature faculty from several Swedish universities. Some partial results of this investigation, which is part of an on-going project, will be presented at the conference.

  • 6.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    "Partialist" and "Universalist": Figurations of U.S. Exceptionalism in Antebellum Writing2018Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, I investigate the tension between particularism and universalism at the core of antebellum American exceptionalism. “Particularism” is herein understood as a broader term encompassing “nationalism”, “jingoism”, “sectarianism”, as well as “individualism” and “self-interest”.  As for “universalism”, it is conceived neither in theological terms as the doctrine that all people will be eventually saved, nor as a kind of foreign policy, but as virtually synonymous to “universality”, or the condition and quality of being universal. Taking my cues from one of Emerson’s famous paradoxes, namely that “every man is a partialist… and… every man is a universalist also” (in the essay “Nominalist and Realist”), I proceed to identify and compare representations of particularism and universalism in antebellum writings on U.S. national identity by Emerson, Fuller, Simms, Douglass, and Delany.

  • 7.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Poe and the New Order of Free Enterprise Capitalism: An Illustration of the Uses of Reinhart Koselleck’s Begriffsgeschichte for Literary Studies2013Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    In her influential review of the “new formalist” movement, Marjorie Levinson grounds her discussion on the polemic of resurgent formalist views and theories with materialist approaches to literary history and interpretation represented by the well-established, institutionalized, school of new historicism. The most frequent problem invoked by representatives of the formalist “countercurrent” in literary studies today is the tendency of reducing literary texts to “a simple-minded mimesis” of their cultural and historical contexts, which has come to replace “the dynamic formalism that characterized early new historicism”. By recourse to Reinhart Koselleck’s notion of historical structure (which he discusses in connection with the practice of conceptual history), I propose an analysis of Poe’s narrative response to and representation of the new order of free enterprise capitalism, a period of huge transformations in antebellum America, brought forth by the rapid transition from an agrarian society to a market economy dominated by industrial capitalism. With this new historicist exercise informed by Koselleck’s philosophy of history, I hope to get a closer look at the elusive mechanisms of the dialectical relation between work and world, literature and history - a central issue for many of those writing against the new historicist “current”.

  • 8.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Putting Context to New Use in Literary Studies: A Conceptual-Historicist Interpretation of Poe's 'Man of the Crowd'2017Ingår i: Partial Answers, ISSN 1565-3668, E-ISSN 1936-9247, Vol. 15, nr 2, s. 241-261Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    Poe’s adherence to a strict aesthetic formalism used to be problematic for studies of the relationship between his work and its American context; the methodology of New Historicism has helped to surmount this problem but sometimes with excessive emphasis on socio-historical contexts. This essay examines critical practices at work in the interpretation of Poe’s canonical piece “The Man of the Crowd” in light of the recent debates in literary studies around the problem of context and contextualization in general and the “hegemony” of new historicism in particular. It then suggests an alternative method of reading literary texts and their contexts — one based on Reinhart Koselleck’s history of concepts. It offers an analysis of “The Man of the Crowd” as an illustration of this method.

  • 9.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Searching for a point d'appui: Constructions of National Identity in Antebellum American Literature2015Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    In the decades before the Civil War, American society witnessed the intensification of political and social tensions over issues such as slavery, Irish immigration, laborers’ rights, and women’s rights; the major economic transformations and the drive toward the new order of free enterprise capitalism (especially in the North); the expansionist policies materialized as Indian removal or military aggression against a neighboring country. Such disruptive forces were taking a heavy toll on the national fabric. At least this is what some American literati feared; through all the tumult and vitality of antebellum America, they discerned a sort of moral groundlessness. The America(s) they imagined seem to point to this ethical dimension as their common denominator. Thoreau is one of those antebellum writers who peeped into the American conscience and tried to find a “point d’appui”, a new ethical foundation for the national project that was underway. This paper investigates his and others’ literary re-constructions of America.

  • 10.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    The Conversational Framework, Democratic Education, and Pedagogic Design in the American Literature Survey: A Case Study2016Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    This presentation attempts to probe the applicability of Diana Laurillard’s “conversational” model of collaborative learning to the teaching of the American Literature Survey at the University of Gävle. For the purpose of exemplification, I have selected a unit on race and gender representations in late nineteenth-century fiction, with a focus on Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, respectively. Given that the vast majority of students who take up this course are enrolled in the teacher training program, an important research question is how this pedagogic framework might contribute to developing and consolidating democratic values and practices in their future roles as high school teachers of English in Sweden. This aim converges with the curricular objective that civic values and attitudes should underpin the teaching of all subjects in the Swedish school system. The study is part of a project entitled “Democratic Vistas in the Classroom: Teaching American Literature in Swedish Higher Education”.

  • 11.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Toward a comparatist horizon in conceptual history2019Ingår i: History of European Ideas, ISSN 0191-6599, E-ISSN 1873-541X, Vol. 45, nr 1, s. 117-120Artikel, recension (Refereegranskat)
  • 12.
    Cananau, Iulian
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Toward a Methodology of Intuitive Critical Thinking in Literature Teaching2018Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    Literature has a special relation with truth. It often purports to reveal that there are many ways of conceiving truth, that indeed there is no absolute truth. Yet there are, in literature, notions of truth like the truth of the slave narratives and all of the so-called protest literature that resist relativization. In a sense, much of our work and expertise as literary scholars is to distinguish between claims to truth and to advance one claim against others through persuasive and valid arguments. To do that, we employ an ability to think critically that we have developed and trained as part of our professional identity. So embedded is this ability in the practice of literary studies that it might be considered exemplary for what theorists of critical thinking tentatively call “a way of being” and “a habit of the mind”. After a brief discussion of a few conceptualizations of truth in literature and literary studies, I present the notion of “intuitive critical thinking” and its possibilities for teaching literature in higher education, with a focus on the syllabi of some of my literature courses at the University of Gävle.

  • 13.
    Cananau, Iulian
    et al.
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för humaniora, Engelska.
    Sims, Caroline
    Högskolan i Gävle, Akademin för utbildning och ekonomi, Avdelningen för utbildningsvetenskap, Utbildningsvetenskap, Didaktik.
    Teaching Literature, Implementing Multicultural Education2017Ingår i: Kunskap, motstånd, möjlighet: Humanistisk forskning i dag / [ed] Ulrika Serrander & Peder Thalén, Halmstad: Molin & Sorgenfrei, 2017, 1, s. 297-316Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Refereegranskat)
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