After Identity

Mennonite Writing in North America

Robert Zacharias (Editor)

For decades, the field of Mennonite literature has been dominated by the question of Mennonite identity. After Identity: Mennonite Writing in North America offers a cohesive platform for an interdisciplinary reappraisal of Mennonite literature and literary criticism, as well as a reflection of current conversations in the field about Mennonite literary discourse and cultural identity.

After Identity features twelve interdisciplinary essays from scholars who see Mennonite writing transitioning beyond a tradition concerned primarily with defining itself and its cultural milieu. 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. Individually, each chapter engages the question of identity in some distinct way; collectively, they show something of the range in tone, methodology, and perspective that characterizes the broader field of Mennonite literary criticism.

Together, the essays in this volume interrogate what is at stake in this ongoing preoccupation with identity and explore the potential for a move towards a truly post-identity literature. As such, After Identity participates in a much larger reconsideration of cultural identity currently under way in contemporary literary studies, a discussion with implications for the study of ethnic literatures more generally.


“An excellent and inspiring collection.”

Martin Kuester, Canadian Literature

“The world of Mennonite writing in North America is a lively and fascinating one that pushes into new territory even while it seeks to attend to its own histories, traditions, and communities—this collection of essays is a reliable guide to understanding that state of affairs.”

Paul Doerksen, Canadian Mennonite University, Rhubarb

“For readers interested in the Mennonite thing, all of the pieces of this collection are well worth viewing.”

Brad S. Born, Mennonite Life

“A timely book for diasporic studies in general and for the study of Mennonite writing in particular because it worries a thorny question that has stubbornly endured in Mennonite writing studies from the boom in Mennonite writing in the 1980s—what Andris Taskans first called ‘the Mennonite miracle’.”

– Tanis MacDonald, Wilfrid Laurier University, English Studies in Canada

“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

“The twelve essayists in Robert Zacharias’s After Identity 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

About the Author

Robert Zacharias is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, and a Visiting Scholar with the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the associate editor of the Journal of Mennonite Studies, and co-editor, with Smaro Kamboureli, of Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies.  Visit Robert’s website.

Other contributors: Ervin Beck, Di Brandt, Daniel Shank Cruz, Jeff Gundy, Ann Hostetler, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Royden Loewen, Jesse Nathan, Magdalene Redekop, Hildi Froese Tiessen, Paul Tiessen, Robert Zacharias.

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