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A Bridge Over the Balkans


Demetra Vaka Brown and the Tradition of “Women’s Orients”


This critical study of Demetra Vaka Brown, one of the most significant Greek American writers of the turn of the last century, is framed within the fields of “Orientalism” and cultural studies. At once a white female and a Greek immigrant from the Ottoman Empire, she worked as a writer in the United States, publishing in English and contributing her work to mainstream publications. The book presents the identity politics of Vaka Brown, recovering the discursive techniques in her identification processes and assessing the significance of her agency in the context of the themes and preoccupations of Orientalism.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-655-4
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Feb 4,2011
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 196
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-59333-655-4
$168.00

This book is a critical study of Demetra Vaka Brown, one of the most significant Greek American writers of the turn of the last century, framed within the fields of “Orientalism” and cultural studies. Offering an overview of her life and career with analytical readings of her major works, the book’s focus is on the role of Vaka Brown as cultural agent: at once a white female and an immigrant of Greek descent and a former citizen of Ottoman Turkey who worked as a journalist and author in the United States, writing in English and contributing her work to mainstream publications. The book presents the identity and spatial politics of Vaka Brown, recovering the discursive techniques employed in her identification processes and assessing the significance of her cultural agency in the context of the dominant themes and preoccupations of the Orientalist tradition. Vaka Brown is further examined as a case study which provides historically informed and cultural perspectives on the complexities and ambiguities of women’s imperial positionings at the second half of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries in the East and West. By exploring the author’s predicament in constructing an authorial and narrative identity in the interstices between the East and the West, modernity and tradition, ethnicity and nationalism, the book articulates a nuanced historical and cultural reading of Vaka Brown’s writing and ultimately probes the alternative responses Vaka Brown’s texts offer to the “scaffoldings” of nationalism.

This book is a critical study of Demetra Vaka Brown, one of the most significant Greek American writers of the turn of the last century, framed within the fields of “Orientalism” and cultural studies. Offering an overview of her life and career with analytical readings of her major works, the book’s focus is on the role of Vaka Brown as cultural agent: at once a white female and an immigrant of Greek descent and a former citizen of Ottoman Turkey who worked as a journalist and author in the United States, writing in English and contributing her work to mainstream publications. The book presents the identity and spatial politics of Vaka Brown, recovering the discursive techniques employed in her identification processes and assessing the significance of her cultural agency in the context of the dominant themes and preoccupations of the Orientalist tradition. Vaka Brown is further examined as a case study which provides historically informed and cultural perspectives on the complexities and ambiguities of women’s imperial positionings at the second half of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries in the East and West. By exploring the author’s predicament in constructing an authorial and narrative identity in the interstices between the East and the West, modernity and tradition, ethnicity and nationalism, the book articulates a nuanced historical and cultural reading of Vaka Brown’s writing and ultimately probes the alternative responses Vaka Brown’s texts offer to the “scaffoldings” of nationalism.

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Contributor Biography

Eleftheria Arapoglou

Eleftheria Arapoglou is an adjunct faculty member of the department of American Literature and Culture of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She holds an M.A. in English from The University of Texas at San Antonio and a Ph.D. in American Literature from Aristotle University. Dr. Arapoglou has published extensively on 19th-century American literature, women's studies and travel writing and her research interests include the cultural production of space in the modernist tradition, literary sociology, and cultural studies.

  • Dedication Page (page 5)
  • Table of Contents (page 7)
  • Acknowledgements (page 9)
  • Introduction. Turning East. Turning West: Women Orientalists, Spatial Representation and Identity Politics (page 11)
    • I. Space, Location, Positionality: The "New" Cultural Geography (page 11)
    • II. Women Travel Writers "Unveiling" the Orient (page 18)
    • III. Writing Travels, Writing the Self: The Life and Career of Demetra Vaka Brown (page 23)
  • Chapter 1. Demetra Vaka Brown: "Child of the Orient" or Cultural Mediator (page 39)
    • 1.1. Theorizing Vaka Brown's Shifting Identification: Mapping the "Space Between" Two Names (page 39)
    • 1.2. "A Child of the Orient" In "The Heart of the Balkans" Orientalism versus Balkanism (page 45)
    • 1.3. Exploring the Poetic and Politics of Self-Representation: The Hybridic Layering of Demetra Vaka Brown's Autobiographical Narrator (page 55)
  • Chapter 2. Thinking Geographically/ Thinking Historically: A Child of the Orient, "With a Heart for Any Fate," Journalism (page 65)
    • 2.1. Moving Through Spaces, Moving Through Cultures: Demetra Vaka Brown as a Social and Cultural Geographer (page 65)
    • 2.2. Mapping History onto Topography: The Flaneuse in Vaka Brown's Autobiographical Writings (page 78)
    • 2.3. Geopolitical Orientation Versus Ideological Self-Location in Vaka Brown's Asia Articles (page 90)
  • Chapter 3. Women and/ or the Orient: Demetra Vaka Brown, Hester Donaldson Jenkins, Anna Bowman Dodd, Halide Adivar Edib (page 105)
    • 3.1. Orientalism "Unveiled": Demetra Vaka Brown and Hester Dondaldson Jenkins (page 105)
    • 3.2. The Complexities of "Women's Orients": Demetra Vaka Brown and Anna Bowman Dodd (page 118)
    • 3.3. Suffragettes in the Harem: Demetra Vaka Brown and Halide Adivar Edib (page 127)
  • Chapter 4. Demetra Vaka Brown and the Modern Greek State: The Heart of the Balkans and In the Heart of German Intrigue (page 145)
    • 4.1. The Politics of Travel Literature and Literary Journalism (page 145)
    • 4.2. The Heart of the Balkans: The Emergence of Modern Greek Nationalism as a Territorial Ideology (page 152)
    • 4.3. In the Heart of German Intrique: Modern Greek Irredentism and American Diplomatic Policy (page 162)
  • Epilogue (page 179)
  • Bibliography (page 185)