Founded In    2006
Published   3/year
Language(s)   English

Fields of Interest


literature, culture, the arts and "American Studies," history, social sciences, and international relations

ISSN   1991-9336
Affiliated Organization   European Association for American Studies
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The Director of this publication is the President of the European Association for American Studies, Professor Philip John Davies, The Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, London

Editor for literature, culture, the arts and “American Studies”: Marek Paryż (Poland)

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John Dumbrell (Great Britain)

Andrew Gross (Germany)

Roxana Oltean (Romania)

Jean-Yves Pellegrin (France)

Editor for history, social sciences and international relations: Jenel Virden

Book Reviews Editor: Theodora Tsimpouki (Greece)

Editor for web presence: Cara Rodway (Great Britain)

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Articles must be in English. Contributions should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words, unless previous arrangements have been made with the editors. The article should be preceded by a short abstract. Bibliographical references and general presentation should follow the MLA style sheet for literature, culture and the arts, and the Chicago Manual of Style for history, social sciences and international relations. In-text references should be indicated in the typescript, between parentheses, by giving the author’s surname followed by the year of publication and a page reference if necessary.

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European Journal of American Studies

EJAS is the official, peer-reviewed academic journal of the European Association for American Studies, a federation of 21 national and joint-national associations of specialists of the United States ( gathering approximately 4,000 scholars from 27 European countries.

EJAS aims to foster European views on the society, culture, history, and politics of the United States, and how the US interacts with other countries in these fields. In doing so the journal places itself firmly within the continuing discussion amongst Europeans on the nature, history, importance, impact and problems of US civilization. As part of this task, EJAS wants to contribute to enriching the contents, broadening the scope, and documenting the critical examination of “American Studies” in and outside of the United States. EJAS welcomes contributions from Europe and elsewhere and endeavors to make available reliable information and state-of-the-art research on all topics within its broad field of interest. As a matter of policy, the journal will pay particular attention to objects, phenomena and issues less documented or less often debated in the United States, as well as to innovative cultural modes and the diversity of reception of United States culture abroad. Associated with this outlook, it welcomes submissions that elaborate and renew critical approaches, paradigms and methodologies, and that express varied and pluralist views.

While intended for the entire American Studies community, EJAS aims in particular to provide space for the rapid publication of quality scholarship by doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. The journal hopes to constitute a genuine forum for European Americanists of all generations, national origins and disciplinary affiliations.


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EJAS 12.3 2017 Special Issue: Cormac McCarthy Between Worlds , Volume 12, Number 3

One of the aims of this special issue of The European Journal of American Studies is to examine and shed further light on the aesthetic and disciplinary fault lines and tensions that constitute McCarthy’s fiction, which traverses other fictional and non-fictional worlds. Notwithstanding the expanding body of criticism on McCarthy, we claim that it is precisely the in-betweenness of irreconcilable worlds in his fiction that warrants further examination. The fifteen essays collected here examine Cormac McCarthy’s fiction from a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives that shed light on his work in terms of its negotiations of and investments in science, painting, music, theology, philosophy, politics, cinema, anthropology, economics, systems theory, genre fiction, and the novel form itself, to name but some of the approaches represented in this issue. Written by a mixture of first-time as well as long-established McCarthy scholars based in seven different countries across three continents, the essays in this issue testify both to the global interest in McCarthy’s work and to the continued vibrancy of the scholarship dedicated to it.

Introduction: Cormac McCarthy Between Worlds

One of the aims of this special issue of The European Journal of American Studies is to examine and shed further light on the aesthetic and disciplinary fault lines and tensions that constitute McCarthy's fiction, which traverses other fictional and non-fictional worlds. Notwithstanding the expanding body of criticism on McCarthy, we claim that it is precisely the in-betweenness of irreconcilable worlds in his fiction that warrants further examination. The fifteen essays collected here examine Cormac McCarthy's fiction from a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives that shed light on his work in terms of its negotiations of and investments in science, painting, music, theology, philosophy, politics, cinema, anthropology, economics, systems theory, genre fiction, and the novel form itself, to name but some of the approaches represented in this issue. Written by a mixture of first-time as well as long-established McCarthy scholars based in seven different countries across three continents, the essays in this issue testify both to the global interest in McCarthy's work and to the continued vibrancy of the scholarship dedicated to it.

Landscapes as Narrative Commentary in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West

This study argues that in Blood Meridian (1985) McCarthy creates landscape scenes that function as narrative commentary on the Glanton gang's Indian-fighting, on America's pursuit of Manifest Destiny, and on humanity's innate aptitude for violence. The article surveys the biographical evidence for McCarthy's interest in the visual arts, then inventories the language of art in Blood Meridian and explores the novel's allusions to specific artworks. It culminates in readings of several scenes in which the narrator interprets the landscape before him in moments of sober contemplation. Each of these scenes bears a title reminiscent of painted landscapes, such as "Under the Animas peaks" or "Night scene with moon, blossoms, judge." Each comprises a static composition that slows the violent action and also functions as a prose poem, rich in allusiveness. Evoking in the reader the perceptual and interpretive modes of a pensive viewer of a painted landscape, these scenes invite us to apply techniques drawn from art criticism to comprehend them as the narrator's sober meditations on the Glanton gang's violent enterprise.

The Novel in the Epoch of Social Systems: Or, "Maps of the World in Its Becoming"

These pages pose a general, even rough, question: What is the situation of the artwork, and particularly the novel, in what may be described as the epoch of social systems? I mean to suggest that this question has emerged, if often inexplicitly, on a range of fronts, in recent versions of the so-called "method wars" in literary studies, and in the humanities more generally. If we demilitarize this rhetoric, and demobilize the nearly one-word arguments that tend to underwrite it, it may be possible to get at the intricated place of the novel among social systems today. It may be possible too to get at (borrowing Alexander Kluge's good way of framing such matters) something of the precision of rough ideas. Perhaps no American novelist more incisively stages what this convergence looks like -- what this systems-ironic turn in the form of the novel means -- than Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy's fiction serves as the throughput of the analysis of the shape and distinction of the art system among a manifold of comparable, and rival, social systems. It provides a view of the pathos, and enchantments, of networks and systems of systems, across the practices and disciplines, the tableaux and forms, the proliferating self-descriptions and roadmaps of contemporary life.

Christ-Haunted: Theology on The Road

In this paper I argue that it is Cormac McCarthy's grappling with theological concepts that best explains The Road's (2006) haunting power and beauty. Far from being a borrowed and merely aesthetic authority, McCarthy's work evokes the Bible in a way that forces the astute reader to return to it. In its brutal plot and metaphysical tone, The Road most closely parallels the book of Job, and thereby foregrounds all of its theological questions regarding personhood, suffering, the existence of God, and the purpose of creation. As a result of this parallel, the novel's beauty is best explained not by an effort on McCarthy's part to replace God's authority with beautiful prose. Instead, like the book of Job itself, the novel must be beautiful to the extent that it is answerable to the essential goodness of man being made in the image of God. The Road is under what Hans urs von Balthasar has called the "demand of the beautiful," and it pulls its readers -- however unwittingly -- into answerability to that demand.

On Being Between: Apocalypse, Adaptation, McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy's career-long interest in ideas of apocalypse is most evident in his 2006 novel The Road, which was then adapted for film by John Hillcoat in 2009. Apocalypse can be understood as a liminal state, existing in between the old and new worlds, a similar kind of space to that inhabited by film adaptations, which are situated both in relation to their source text and also as new artworks. McCarthy's novel and Hillcoat's film each incorporate the popular conception of apocalypse as disaster as well as the theological understanding of it as the revelation of previously hidden mysteries. The film, however, inhabits that apocalyptic and adaptive liminality uncomfortably, approaching the novel with a reverence that ultimately fails to productively superimpose Hillcoat's vision with McCarthy's.

The Tennis Shoe Army and Leviathan: Relics and Specters of Big Government in The Road

Differently than many other post-apocalyptic stories, Cormac McCarthy's The Road offers scant evidence of either the influence of political events or ideas or of an authorial ambition to construct a vision of political order. To the extent that parallels can be drawn between the novel's presentation of a tennis shoe army on the march, which resembles dream-like processions in other McCarthy novels, and Thomas Hobbes' vision of an absolutist government as Leviathan, this essay argues that The Road can be seen as conveying an aversion to the impersonal rule of the bureaucratic state.

Rugged Resonances: From Music in McCarthy to McCarthian Music

This essay explores the contact zone between the two worlds of music and literature, or sound and fiction, in the context of Cormac McCarthy's works. It teases out the stylistic idiosyncrasies of McCarthy's fiction in terms of a sonic register, by tracing its connections to the film scores of movie adaptations like All the Pretty Horses (2000) and The Road (2009), and to the works of a diverse set of musicians and bands directly inspired by McCarthy's fiction, including acts like Buddy and the Huddle, Horatio Clam, Ben Nichols, Earth, and Neurosis. Starting with specific passages from the author's oeuvre that themselves project a sonic imagery, the guiding question of this essay will be in what sense a tracing of the film scores and musical acts inspired by McCarthy's writings shed light on the "ruggedness" of what could be called his "signature resonance."

Cormac McCarthy and the Genre Turn in Contemporary Literary Fiction

The wholesale embrace of genre fiction by contemporary literary writers is currently reorganizing the literary field. This essay looks at the role that genre has played in Cormac McCarthy's fiction since his turn to the Western with Blood Meridian (1985). It assesses his genre fiction vis-à-vis Mark McGurl's influential study of the importance of creative writing programs for postwar US fiction in The Program Era (2009). In contrast to the modernist aesthetic institutionalized in program era fiction, I argue that the recent genre turn significantly changes the relationship of literary fiction to reality as well as to institutions. I suggest that the turn to genre should be considered the formal response to a crisis in reality, triggered by twenty-first-century reconceptualizations of the world and our place in it, which requires new ways of representing reality. By reading McCarthy's The Road (2006) alongside Colson Whitehead's Zone One (2011), I argue that the genre turn in contemporary literary fiction also marks a turn toward institutions, one that both rejects the anti-institutionality of the program era and a return to the modern disciplinary institution in favor of rethinking a value basis for future institutions.

The Dialectics of Mobility: Capitalism and Apocalypse in Cormac McCarthy's The Road

In the post-apocalyptic setting of Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road (2006), a father and his son "push down the road a battered shopping cart, containing their bare provisions, on a thoroughly consumed earth" (Seltzer 189). Despite the fact that the novel seems to be situated in an indistinct no-man's-land, marked by a curious absence of time and history, this essay argues that it is indeed worthwhile to historicize The Road. By placing the novel in the context of the new capitalism, the article explores the ways in which McCarthy's treatment of mobility deviates from previous American road narratives, which typically celebrate the pleasures and possibilities of movement and flight. Concentrating on the novel's dystopian "catastrophism," the essay will further investigate its relation to temporality, history, and the future.

Affect and Gender in Cormac McCarthy's Outer Dark

Cormac McCarthy's 1968 novel, Outer Dark, is arguably his only text that contains a true female protagonist. Rinthy Holme is a significant character in her own right, in part because almost half the storyline is dedicated to her, but also because she seems to generate what scholars have referred to as a sense of forcefulness or meaningfulness that is sometimes at odds with otherwise more problematic elements of her characterization. By focusing on a small excerpt of Outer Dark, I argue that Rinthy feels meaningful because of the affective resonances that the text that describes her seems to emanate, rather than solely as a result of any diegetic aspect of her characterization. I draw on Brian Massumi's account of affect to illuminate the apparent disconnect between the content of the text about Rinthy and its actual physical effects on readers, as well as the textual operations that might cause these effects. I also investigate, however, whether Rinthy's affective power is truly able to combat other more problematic elements of her characterization, such as her apparently essentialized maternal instinct and empathy. I conclude by arguing that although the excerpt analyzed demonstrates a powerful instance of McCarthy's interest in the centrality of the material in the process of meaning-making, and also perhaps suggests that McCarthy gestures towards the ways in which women might engage in the world as independent, embodied agents, McCarthy ultimately cannot escape an essentialized male/female binary.

Mirror-Image Asymmetry, Chirality, and Suttree

Chirality is the property of the handedness of things. The first half of this paper looks at the science of chirality, and the second half at how it is manifested primarily in Suttree, one of Cormac McCarthy's novels. Chirality and the interplay of symmetry and asymmetry is a transformative concept in nature, in human experience, and in the philosophies of deep-seeing writers. There is strong evidence confirming McCarthy's interest in chirality, including archival notes on the subject that were eventually translated through his fiction. Understanding chirality in turn reveals new dimensions of scientific and philosophical meaning in McCarthy's work, including his investigation of free will, chance, and determinism; his interest in narrative, consciousness, and evolutionary theory; and his search for a logos -- a universal ordering principle in both the material and metaphysical worlds.

Cormac McCarthy's Aesthet(h)ics of the "Canal-Rhizome" in Suttree

This essay interprets Suttree's (1979) obsessional themes of vagrancy and in-betweenness, and their aesthetic inscription in the text by resorting to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's motif of the "canal-rhizome" as developed in Mille plateaux (1980). Close textual analysis reveals that, in parallel to his hero's embracing of social liminality in rebellion to his father's conservative value system based on law and order, McCarthy makes the ethical choice of "pass-words" over "order-words," of transforming "compositions of order" into "components of passage," a militant act of literary commitment. Moreover, the essay contends that the text's aesthetic choice of liminal forms is also meant to enable the reader to share the hero's metaphysical experience of the mysteries of death-in-life.

Cormac McCarthy´s The Stonemason and the Ethic of Craftsmanship

The Stonemason (1995), Cormac McCarthy's first published play, is a sustained meditation on the values of the ethic of craft as opposed to mere work, as well as on the difficult application of such values to reality. On the one hand, craft is represented as the quintessential value; on the other, it is measured against the real world in which values have to be constantly renegotiated in order to be useful. In this essay, I analyze how the tension between the ideal of the "craftsman hero," represented by Papaw, and Ben's attempt to live up to it traverses The Stonemason through three distinct if intertwined levels. First is the individual level, at which craft is intended as Ben's personal experience of learning from Papaw how to lay stone upon stone as he struggles to hold his family together. Second is the social level: stonemasonry is one element of the economic system which is the battlefield for the struggle between the effort of the oppressed to improve their position and the ever-renewing ways in which the oppressors defend and exercise their power. Finally, there is the symbolic-mythical level: here stonemasonry is seen as the archetypical craft embodying a view of the world as the product of either a benevolent or an evil God. It is in the tension between the ideal and the reality of craftsmanship as it crosses these three dimensions that one can appreciate the full scope and complexity of McCarthy's ethic of craft.

Anti-Matters: Mortal Ethics in Cormac McCarthy's The Road

This article proposes that to understand the ethical and philosophical dimensions of Cormac McCarthy's work one must engage in an articulation of mortal ethics. To do this, it is necessary to understand how The Road depicts the material destruction of the world, and the ethical consequences such physical destruction imposes on the novel's central protagonists. More specifically, this article argues that Cormac McCarthy's The Road presents an anti-metaphysics with consequences for understanding philosophical concepts of memory and community, as well as McCarthy's effort to construct universal forms of being together.

Cannibalism and Other Transgressions of the Human in The Road

The concept of cannibalism is essential for the dark vision laid out by Cormac McCarthy in his novel The Road (2006). This article sketches a brief history of the idea of anthropophagy in the Western intellectual tradition. Examining the various twists and turns the idea has taken throughout time enables a better understanding of McCarthy's use of the trope. Cannibalism commands a particular moral force and is often associated with ultimate evil or the antithesis of civilization. The recent emergence of posthumanism as an area of philosophical and literary enquiry adds further urgency to the topic of anthropophagy, which serves both to define the human and to place individuals outside this category. Finally, a focus on cannibalism allows reexamination of important issues for McCarthy scholarship such as the human/nature binary and consumer society.

"Some Unholy Alloy": Neoliberalism, Digital Modernity, and the Mechanics of Globalized Capital in Cormac McCarthy's The Counselor

This article proposes a reading of The Counselor (2013) as an extrapolation of the frontier ethic animating much of Cormac McCarthy's earlier writing. I will propose that echoes of Blood Meridian (1985), which presented the duality of barbarism and capital, are audible and perpetuated under digital capitalism, a condition encompassing the expansion of increasingly impersonal and anonymized capital under neoliberal socio-economics, empowered by digital globalization. Thus, the screenplay extends classic McCarthian themes, while expanding the remit of critique to class relations in contemporary cross-border, and global consumer economies. The subversive appetites of Western consumerism -- focused around commodity fetishism and narcotics -- symbolized by characters like Westray, Reiner, and Malkina, render a distinctly modern tragedy enabling a critique of how (and whether) it is possible to represent and oppose such a system of increasing ephemerality and correlative persuasion.

Other Issues

Summer 2017, Volume 12, Number 2
Summer 2017, Volume 12, Number 2
EJAS 12.1 Spring 2017 Special Issue: Eleanor Roosevelt and Diplomacy in the Public Interest, Volume 12, Number 1
EJAS 11.3 2016 Special Issue: Re-Queering The Nation: America's Queer Crisis , Volume 11, Number 3
EJAS 11.2 2016, Volume 11, Number 2
EJAS 11.1 2016 Special Issue: Intimate Frictions: History and Literature in the United States from the 19th to the 21st Century, Volume 11, Number 1
EJAS 10.3 2015 Special Issue: The City , Volume 10, Number 3
EJAS 10.2 Summer 2015 Special Issue: (Re)visioning America in the Graphic Novel, Volume 10, Number 2
EJAS 10.2 Summer 2015, Volume 10, Number 2
EJAS 10.1 Winter 2015 Special Issue: Women in the USA , Volume 10, Number 1
EJAS 9.3 2014 Special Issue: Transnational Approaches to North American Regionalism, Volume 9, Number 3
EJAS 9.2 Summer 2014, Volume 9, Number 2
EJAS 9.1 Spring 2014, Volume 9, Number 1
EJAS 8.1 2013, Volume 8, Number 1
EJAS 7.2 2012 Special Issue: Wars and New Beginnings in American History, Volume 7, Number 2
EJAS 7.1 Spring 2012, Volume 7, Number 1
EJAS 6.3 2011 Special Issue: Postfrontier Writing, Volume 6, Number 3
EJAS 6.2 2011 Special Issue: Oslo Conference, Volume 6, Number 11
EJAS 6.1 Spring 2011, Volume 6, Number 11
EJAS 5.4 2010 Special Issue: Film, Volume 5, Number 4
, Volume 5, Number 3
EJAS 5.2 2010 Special Issue:The North-West Pacific in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Volume 5, Number 2
EJAS 5.1 Spring 2010, Number 5, Volume 1
EJAS 4.3 2009 Special Issue: Immigration, Volume 4, Number 3
EJAS 4.2 Autumn 2009, Volume 4, Number 2
EJAS 4.1 Spring 2009, Volume 4, Number 1