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Indiana University Bloomington

Vivian Nun Halloran

Vivian Nun Halloran

Email | 812-856-5653

Associate Professor of American Studies and English
Director of Graduate Studies, Department of American Studies

PhD, Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles, 2002.
MA, Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles, 1996.
BA, English and Spanish, Magna Cum Laude, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1994.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Programs or centers with which I am affiliated at IU include Cultural Studies, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Food Studies, Human Biology, Latino Studies, African Studies, and the CATAPuLT Center for Digital Humanities and Computational Analysis.

My Work

I am a specialist in Caribbean literature, and my research in that area explores the interconnections between art, history, literature and performance. My current work on Caribbean studies focuses on plays as vehicles through which the political history of various islands in the Greater Antilles, such as Haiti and Cuba, has impacted how contemporary Caribbean writers throughout the diaspora think through and perform their national and/or collective Caribbean identities for multiple audiences. Of particular interest to me at the moment are Derek Walcott's The Haitian Trilogy, and Eduardo Machado's food-centric plays, like The Cook.

My previous work on postmodern, historical novels about slavery led me to discover Caribbean culinary memoirs that explicitly link the emergence of a distinctive Caribbean cuisine to the influx of new ingredients and cooking techniques that arrived in the islands as a result of the slave trade. Reading novelist Austin Clarke's, Pig Tails 'n Breadfruit encouraged me to read more literary food writing by accomplished novelists, playwrights and published cookbook writers. This research led me to engage in my current book-length project, American Appetites: Immigrant Family Recipes and the Culinary Memoir, which analyzes how the popularity of the memoirs with recipes genre has made discussions of immigration palatable even at a time when public discourse surrounding such hot-button issues as states' immigration laws, the Dream Act, and "self-deportation" has been characterized by rancor and charges of xenophobia and racism. Other food-related research projects involve articles exploring the connection between allusions to slave recipes and contemporary recipes, and also articles analyzing coming out narratives in Top Chef in its many incarnations.

Publication Highlights (click images for more information)


Exhibiting Slavery: The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as MuseumExhibiting Slavery: The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, November 2009).

Selected Articles:

"Recipes as Memory Work: Slave Food." Culture, Theory and Critique 53.2(2012): 147-161.

"Race, Creole and National Identities in Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea and Phillips' Cambridge." Small Axe 21 (2006): 87-94.

"Performative Mourning: Remembering Derrida Through (Re) Reading." PMC: Post Modern Culture 15.3 (2005).

Current Projects

I have two other large research projects in the works: the first is an analysis of mourning in the public sphere. I examine how high-profile writers with built-in audience followings: novelists, journalists and academics, publicly model a secular and visible mourning process through their published accounts discussing the death of a loved one (spouse, child, friend, parent, or sibling). This analysis rejects the critical framework of trauma studies, and instead reads the written account of mourning and/or struggling to cope with bereavement as performances of the work of mourning, meant to be emulated by the writers' devoted existing readership. The second project is an analysis of the lure Civil War- and Franco-era Spain posed for African American writers as an alternative space to both the American South and to Black Paris. There are many African American novelists who wrote about visiting Spain, but the two whose lives/work I am studying now are Chester Himes and Frank Yerby.