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British Association for American Studies


Online Book Launch: Los Angeles and American Literature - British Association for American Studies


Online Book Launch: Los Angeles and American Literature


Book Launch: Los Angeles and American Literature

Wednesday 26 June, 18:00 – 20:00 BST

Dr. Michael Docherty (University of Innsbruck) and Dr. Ben Robbins (University of Innsbruck) launch new books that in different ways locate midcentury Los Angeles at the heart of American literary and cinematic histories. In conversation with Sandra Tausel, the authors will discuss the intersecting themes of their books and LA’s unique position in global culture, followed by a Q&A.

This event will be held in person at Die Bäckerei Kulturbackstube, Innsbruck.

We warmly invite colleagues in the UK and elsewhere to attend via a livestream on Zoom, using this link:

The Recursive Frontier by Michael Docherty (SUNY Press, May 2024)

The Recursive Frontier is an innovative spatial history of both the literature of Los Angeles and the city itself in the mid-twentieth century. Setting canonical texts alongside underexamined works and sources such as census bulletins and regional planning documents, Michael Docherty identifies the American frontier as the defining dynamic of Los Angeles fiction from the 1930s to the 1950s. Contrary to the received wisdom that Depression-era narratives mourn the frontier’s demise, Docherty argues that the frontier lives on as a cruel set of rules for survival in urban modernity, governing how texts figure race, space, mobility, and masculinity. Moving from dancehalls to offices to oil fields and beyond, the book provides a richer, more diverse picture of LA’s literary production during this period, as well as a vivid account of LA’s cultural and social development as it transformed into the multiethnic megalopolis we know today.

Faulkner’s Hollywood Novels by Ben Robbins (University of Virginia Press, July 2024)

William Faulkner’s time as a Hollywood screenwriter has often been dismissed as little more than an intriguing interlude in the career of one of America’s greatest novelists. Consequently, it has not received the wide-ranging critical examination it deserves. In Faulkner’s Hollywood Novels, Ben Robbins provides an overdue thematic analysis by systematically tracing a dialogue of influence between Faulkner’s literary fiction and screenwriting over a period of two decades. Among numerous insights, Robbins’s work sheds valuable new light on Faulkner’s treatment of female characters, both in his novels and in the films to which he contributed.

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