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Literary Criticism General

After Identity

Mennonite Writing in North America

edited by Robert Zacharias

Penn State University Press, University of Manitoba Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2016
General, Mennonite, Canadian, Literature & the Arts
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price

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For decades, the field of Mennonite literature has been dominated by the question of Mennonite identity. After Identity interrogates this prolonged preoccupation and explores the potential to move beyond it to a truly post-identity Mennonite literature.

The twelve essays collected here view Mennonite writing as transitioning beyond a tradition concerned primarily with defining itself and its cultural milieu. What this means for the future of Mennonite literature and its attendant criticism is the question at the heart of this volume. Contributors explore the histories and contexts—as well as the gaps—that have informed and diverted the perennial focus on identity in Mennonite literature, even as that identity is reread, reframed, and expanded.

After Identity is a timely reappraisal of the Mennonite literature of Canada and the United States at the very moment when that literature seems ready to progress into a new era.

In addition to the editor, the contributors are Ervin Beck, Di Brandt, Daniel Shank Cruz, Jeff Gundy, Ann Hostetler, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Royden Loewen, Jesse Nathan, Magdalene Redekop, Hildi Froese Tiessen, and Paul Tiessen.


About the author

Robert Zacharias is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. His research interests include migration literature, Canadian literature (with a focus on Mennonite literature), 18th-century studies, and critical pedagogy. His work has been published in Mosaic and Studies in Canadian Literature, as well as in the edited collections Embracing Otherness and Narratives of Citizenship.

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Editorial Reviews

“A vital book that not only expresses the importance of finding alternative reading practices for Mennonite literature, but also presents various compelling and convincing ways to locate those reading practices.”

—Jesse Hutchison, Biography

“Showcasing some of the best new scholarship in cultural studies, After Identity explodes the tight boundaries of Mennonite culture and points us toward the new literary representations that are redefining Mennonite identity in the twenty-first century. An important book for anyone interested in the debates around culture, identity, and writing in the United States and Canada.”

—Felipe Hinojosa, Texas A&M University

“The twelve essayists in Robert Zacharias’s After Identity: Mennonite Writing in North America (to which Zacharias also contributes an introduction and chapter) share in the larger cultural desires to surpass taxonomic or binary thinking, and their collective contributions inquire carefully and seriously into the meaning and the value of the categories of identity such as ‘Mennonite’ and ‘Mennonite writing.’”

—Grace Kehler, The Mennonite Quarterly Review

“When a traditional culture enters into a part of the modern, secular realm (academia), how does that traditional culture maintain its sense of identity? After Identity does not attempt to offer simplistic answers to these questions, but it does a superb job of mining the multiple issues that confront the field of Mennonite literature as it attempts to define itself.”

—George Adams, Nova Religio

Other titles by Robert Zacharias