MLA Deconstructs Middle East

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

michael brown photo

When the Modern Language Association (MLA) deconstructs something, it stays scrambled.

Thousands of English professors attend the annual MLA conferences and just about every English Department is represented there. At this year’s meeting in Austin, Christian Haines, an assistant professor of English at Dartmouth, tried to link the shooting of aggressive shoplifter Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri by Officer Darrin Wilson to the armed conflict on Israel’s border.

“Is it possible to connect the killing of Michael Brown to Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip?,” he asked rhetorically, then pretty much answered in the affirmative.  “The only way that Darren Wilson can describe Michael Brown is as demonic and Israel describes the Palestinian Authority as a geopolitical threat,” he said to a crowd of 15, including yours truly.

Haines’ “primary research and teaching interests are American literature (especially nineteenth-century and post-WWII), critical theory, continental philosophy, queer theory and gender studies, and utopian studies,” according to his website. “My current book project, A Desire Called America: Biopolitics, Utopia, and the Literary Commons, examines how representations of bodies/biologies in nineteenth-century and contemporary U.S. literature develop a utopian imagination of post-capitalist, post-nationalist Americas.”

“Additionally, I am doing research for a second book project on finance capital and culture, tentatively entitled Finance as a Way of Life.”

Photo by Stephen D. Melkisethian

 

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