"All-Electric" Narratives: Time-Saving Appliances and Domesticity in American Literature, 1945-2020 (Bloomsbury, 2021)

“All-Electric” Narratives is the first in-depth study of time-saving electrical appliances in American literature. It examines the literary depiction of refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, oven ranges, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, toasters, blenders, standing and hand-held mixers, and microwave ovens between 1945, when the “all-electric” home came to be associated with the nation's hard-won victory, and 2020, as contemporary writers consider the enduring material and spiritual effects of these objects in the 21st century. The appropriation and subversion of the rhetoric of domestic electrification and time-saving comprises a crucial, but overlooked, element in 20th-century literary forms and genres including Beat literature, Black American literature, second-wave feminist fiction, science fiction, and postmodernist fiction. Through close-readings of dozens of literary texts alongside print and television ads from this period, Dini shows how U.S. writers have unearthed the paradoxes inherent to claims of appliances' capacity to “give back” time to their user, transport them into a technologically-progressive future, or “return” them to some pastoral past. In so doing, she reveals literary appliances' role in raising questions about gender norms and sexuality, racial exclusion and erasure, class anxieties, the ramifications of mechanization, the perils and possibilities of conformity, the limitations of patriotism, and the inevitable fallacy of utopian thinking-while both shaping and radically disrupting the literary forms in which they operated. Website: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/allelectric-narratives-9781501367373/

 

Chapter: "Women's Rights" in The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

This chapter traces the influence of second-wave feminist activism, scholarship, and fiction in the United States on US women’s fiction of the 1990s. The first half of the chapter examines a selection of literary texts published between the late 1960s and late 1980s that attest to the innovative techniques that women and genderqueer writers developed in this period to articulate feminist ideas, record the

movement’s reception by the public, and recuperate aspects of American history long overlooked by a male-dominated academy. The chapter’s second half turns to two novels by women published at the twentieth century’s close, both of which move between the 1990s and the previous six decades: Whitney Otto's How to Make an American Quilt and Paule Marshall's Daughters. Via detailed close readings, Dini reveals the narrative strategies these novels use to challenge universalist accounts of history, including those advanced by white middle-class heterosexual feminists in previous decades. Dini argues that these two novels featuring female protagonists who abandoned PhD projects dismissed as trivial by their white male supervisors are representative of a broader tendency in women’s fiction of the period, which she suggests is best approached as a repository for the historiographic narratives rejected by a white male-dominated academy.

 

Article: "Into the Blue Again: Postmillennial Dissolution, Academic Remnants, and Sarah Wasserman's The Death of Things," Ancillary Review of Books: Literature, Culture, Power, Speculation (October 2021) https://ancillaryreviewofbooks.org/2021/10/06/into-the-blue-again-postmillennial-dissolution-academic-remnants-and-sarah-wassermans-the-death-of-things/

 

Article: "Things of Beauty: The Politics of Postmillennial Nostalgia for Mid-century Design" (June 2021) https://ancillaryreviewofbooks.org/2021/06/21/things-of-beauty-the-politics-of-postmillennial-nostalgia-for-mid-century-design/

 

Podcast with Sonia Solicari and Dr Sophie Scott Brown: "Midcentury Modern," BBC Radio3 Free Thinking, 23 June 2021 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09mbdr7

 

Podcast with Katie Fernelius: "The Kitchen Electric: Selling Power to Rural America," Nov 2021 (recorded Nov 2020) https://www.southernfoodways.org/gravy/the-housewife-electric/