Jamie Korsmo (Georgia State University / Paris-Saclay University): Hemingway’s Expats: The Impact of Place on Cultural Performance

This paper will examine several key texts by the noted American author Ernest Hemingway, specifically those dealing with transnational themes, in order to identify how Hemingway constructed a representative American national identity that is illustrated in his characters through various modes of behaviour and cultural performance, which can include any variety of communicative actions such as verbal interactions or body language. I am interested in looking at how place affects performance and ultimately shapes identity, leading to the conclusion that even Hemingway’s constructions are a performance of a place, whether consciously constructed or not. Once American writers had begun to make a name for themselves, expatriation became an important factor in American nationalism because Americans were travelling abroad, interacting with other cultures, and bringing these experiences home with them. And, of course, these interactions seeped into the literature of the time, most notably with Henry James’ wealthy American expats, and continuing into the Lost Generation writing of authors like Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This paper will investigate the cultural intersections that emerge as a result of transnational encounters in several of Hemingway’s works, specifically The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast, so as to interpret various cultural performances as they are made clear through repetition, and as they function to construct a kind of national/transnational American identity via his characters through these repeated performances. This project should shed some light on the importance of Europe in the formation of American identity and what kind of cultural legacy emerged from the interaction between the two regions. I am particularly interested in how Hemingway performs his place (by choosing it, by leaving it, by feeling bound to it, by bringing it with him, by incorporating it into his writing, etc.), what choices he makes in doing so, and how this reflects in the ways his characters perform their places.


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