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CCLA Research Group Proposal: Post-Magical Realist Worlds

Born in the mid-twentieth century in Latin America, magical realism quickly became “the literary language of the emergent post-colonial world” (Bhabha 7). It developed as a means of capturing and representing the experience of living in worlds marked by both colonial conquest and anticolonial resistance, and in which “improbable juxtapositions and marvelous mixtures” (Zamora and Faris 76) exist side by side. Since then, magical realism has circulated widely, picked up by authors in formerly colonized nations around the world, and adapted to their own, local, representational needs. Today, authors and critics even speak of modes like Aboriginal realism and decolonial realism, which draw on certain conventions of magical realism but separate themselves from the Eurocentric binary logics of “magic” and “realism” that it upholds.

We would like to propose a research group as continuation of discussions started at the “(Post)Magical Realist Worlds” session at the this year’s CCLA conference. In this research group we would like to explore multiple modes of representing, mediating, or distorting the postcolonial worlds that magical realism was initially developed to capture. We are particularly interested in post-magical realist modes of representation in contemporary media, literature, cinema, and the arts, as well as popular culture. The question of what has come after magical realism is central to this conversation. We ask: What representational modes emerge as a response to the recognition of Eurocentric conceptual binaries that “magical realism” reifies? Is magical realism, as Bhabha, Slemon, and many others have argued, a “global” postcolonial phenomenon, or a culturally-specific, regionally-grounded mode of artistic expression? What is the role of magical realism in cultural politics? Is it merely a stereotype perpetuated by the global market, or a useful and vibrant theoretical and artistic tool for engaging contemporary postcolonial realities?

Possible topics for exploration and further discussion are:

  • magic(al) realisms (Flores; Roh)
  • the marvellous real (Carpentier)
  • African and African American magical realism (Cooper; Quayson)
  • Indigenous/Aboriginal realisms (Ravenscroft; Maufort)
  • Latin American authors, artists, and filmmakers’ rejections of and engagements with magical realist heritage (McOndo or the Crack literary groups)
  • animistic realisms (Garuba; Quayson)
  • decolonial/anticolonial realisms (Ciccariello-Maher)
  • postcolonial realisms (Bjerk)
  • artistic or theoretical interventions which disrupt the cultural traditions of European realism married to the tropes naturalism or scientism
  • interpretations of magical realism as an international commodity or a particular kind of world literature and cinema
  • magical realisms in/as popular culture.

If you are interested in participating in this group, please contact us: Agata Mergler, and Justyna Poray-Wybranowska We will send a doodle out to schedule the first meeting.

Works Cited:

Bhabha, Homi K. Nation and Narration. Routledge, 1990.

Parkinson Zamora, Lois and Wendy B. Faris, eds. “Editor’s Note.” “On the Marvelous Real

in America,” by Alejo Carpentier, in Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community,

edited by Parkinson Zamora, Lois and Wendy B Faris. Duke University Press, 1997,