Marcel Brousseau on Amending Walls

Please join us for Professor Marcel Brousseau's talk on political subjectivity along the U.S.-Mexico hyperborder.

Knight Library Browsing Room, 3:00PM, Monday, March 11, 2019


Please join the English Department in the Knight Library Browsing Room on Monday afternoon for a provocative talk by Professor Marcel Brousseau. The lecture, entitled "Amending Walls: Literature, Infrastructure, and the U.S.-Mexico Hyperborder," explores walls as texts that construct personal and political identity.

Below is an abstract of Professor Brousseau's lecture:

In the last few years, the idea of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border has become a symbol potent enough to shut down the U.S. government. As a speculative fantasy, “the wall” has attained a definite article, and a precise meaning for a demos divided by the current administration’s normalization of racism and xenophobia. However, “the wall” remains an ambiguous object. On the one hand, it is a “metaphor,” as described by Republican senator Lindsey Graham; on the other hand, it is a very real piece(meal) of infrastructure, already shadowing nearly 700 miles of the international boundary, an index of the hyperborder’s histories of racialized policing, pork-barrel legislation, and corporate politicking. In this talk, I examine the ways in which literary texts have always already explored “the wall” as a textual medium constitutive of political subjectivity. Writings across periods and genres by Robert Frost, Gloria Anzaldúa, Carlos Fuentes, and William T. Vollmann reveal fences and walls to be intertextual objects: symbols, and also tools of inscription informed by legal writ, folk maxims, hominization techniques, and cinematic idiom. In this regard, I argue, walls and fences are not only forms, but also genres, and they are written—onto the Earth ultimately—to articulate culture. As these authors show, resisting the U.S.-Mexico border “wall” is an act of reading and revising—amending—a canon of hegemonic texts to produce new meanings and transcultural formations.

Marcel Brousseau is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in English and Ethnic Studies here at UO. His research interests include Latinx studies; Indigenous studies; American literature; media studies; border studies; digital humanities; and ecocriticism. He earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His publications include essays about Kiowa literary and digital mapping, about the poetics of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and about the symbolism of bridges and tunnels on the U.S.-Mexico borderline.