Against Embedded Literature: Brian Turner’s Iraq War Poetry


  • Giorgio Mariani



Brian Turner, war poetry, Iraq war, Cosmopolitanism, American literature


Brian Turner has quickly risen as the US poet of the Iraq War. Though many have praised his work on both aesthetic and political grounds, others have objected to his inability to move beyond an American soldier’s perspective. My essay explores the terms of this controversy, suggesting that Turner does—at least at times—try to incorporate in his poetry the viewpoint of the enemy. My argument is that Turner’s work could be described as “cosmopolitan,” at least if by that term we mean, as Bruce Robbins has suggested, not an impossibly “neutral” perspective but, more realistically, “a striving to transcend partiality that is itself partial” (1992, 181).


Author Biography

Giorgio Mariani

Giorgio Mariani ( teaches American literature at the Sapienza University of Rome. He is editor-in-chief of RIAS-The Review of International American Studies. He has worked for many years on war literature and the relation between literature and violence. He is the editor of Le parole e le armi. Saggi su guerra e violenza nella letteratura e cultura degli Stati Uniti d’America (Milano: Marcos y Marcos, 1996) and of a special issue of the journal Ácoma on “Gli Stati Uniti e le guerre del nuovo millennio” (Nuova Serie, vol. 11, 2016). His last book is Waging War on War: Peacefighting in American Literature (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015).


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