Escape from the dead letter office Smuggled Birds and the Paperless Body in the Americas
Journal / Book Title
Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
‘Escape from the Dead Letter Office: Smuggled Birds and the Paperless Body in the Americas’ brings together Eduardo Galeano's Century of the Wind, Carolina Maria de Jesus’ Child of the Dark and Herman Melville's ‘Bartleby, the scrivener’ in an analysis of dead letters. The essay suggests the metonymic relationship between textual and physical bodies. It traces a motif of paper – recycled newspapers, stolen archives, incinerated codices, paper money, letter-writing campaigns – in order to investigate the ways in which marginalized communities are exiled from the world of letters. This ‘paperlessness’ serves as a prophecy for more terrifying disappearances, and the theoretical contributions of Jacques Derrida, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Karl Marx, Roberto González Echevarría, and Lisa Sánchez González inform the analysis. The article itself commits to paper the resourcefulness of individuals and organizations in procuring paper for communities under siege. It seeks to bring the material aspect of literacy into clearer focus by investigating the ways in which paper circulates and is robbed of circulation, how paper is consumed literally and figuratively, and why the weight of paper can be the measure of its value.
Journal ISSN / Book ISBN
MSU Digital Commons Citation
Lorenz, Johnny, "Escape from the dead letter office Smuggled Birds and the Paperless Body in the Americas" (2005). Department of English Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works. 52.
Lorenz, Johnny. “Escape from the Dead Letter Office: Smuggled Birds and the Paperless Body in the Americas.” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 2005, pp. 72–83.