Abandoning the Black Hero is the first book to examine the postwar African American white-life novel—novels with white protagonists written by African Americans. These fascinating works have been understudied despite having been written by such defining figures in the tradition as Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Ann Petry, and Chester Himes, as well as lesser known but formerly best-selling authors Willard Motley and Frank Yerby.
John C. Charles argues that these fictions have been overlooked because they deviate from two critical suppositions: that black literature is always about black life and that when it represents whiteness, it must attack white supremacy. The authors are, however, quite sympathetic in the treatment of their white protagonists, which Charles contends should be read not as a failure of racial pride but instead as a strategy for claiming creative freedom, expansive moral authority, and critical agency.
In an era when “Negro writers” were expected to protest, their sympathetic treatment of white suffering grants these authors a degree of racial privacy previously unavailable to them. White writers, after all, have the privilege of racial privacy because they are never pressured to write only about white life. Charles reveals that the freedom to abandon the “Negro problem” encouraged these authors to explore a range of new genres and themes, generating a strikingly diverse body of novels that significantly revise our understanding of mid-twentieth-century black writing.
In North America between 1894 and 1930, the rise of the “New Woman” sparked controversy on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world. As she demanded a public voice as well as private fulfillment through work, education, and politics, American journalists debated and defined her. Who was she and where did she come from? Was she to be celebrated as the agent of progress or reviled as a traitor to the traditional family? Over time, the dominant version of the American New Woman became typified as white, educated, and middle class: the suffragist, progressive reformer, and bloomer-wearing bicyclist. By the 1920s, the jazz-dancing flapper epitomized her. Yet she also had many other faces.
Bringing together a diverse range of essays from the periodical press of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Martha H. Patterson shows how the New Woman differed according to region, class, politics, race, ethnicity, and historical circumstance. In addition to the New Woman’s prevailing incarnations, she appears here as a gun-wielding heroine, imperialist symbol, assimilationist icon, entrepreneur, socialist, anarchist, thief, vamp, and eugenicist. Together, these readings redefine our understanding of the New Woman and her cultural impact.
The Harlem Renaissance was a watershed moment for racial uplift, poetic innovation, sexual liberation, and female empowerment. Aphrodite’s Daughters introduces us to three amazing women who were at the forefront of all these developments, poetic iconoclasts who pioneered new and candidly erotic forms of female self-expression.
Maureen Honey paints a vivid portrait of three African American women—Angelina Weld Grimké, Gwendolyn B. Bennett, and Mae V. Cowdery—who came from very different backgrounds but converged in late 1920s Harlem to leave a major mark on the literary landscape. She examines the varied ways these poets articulated female sexual desire, ranging from Grimké’s invocation of a Sapphic goddess figure to Cowdery’s frank depiction of bisexual erotics to Bennett’s risky exploration of the borders between sexual pleasure and pain. Yet Honey also considers how they were united in their commitment to the female body as a primary source of meaning, strength, and transcendence.
The product of extensive archival research, Aphrodite’s Daughters draws from Grimké, Bennett, and Cowdery’s published and unpublished poetry, along with rare periodicals and biographical materials, to immerse us in the lives of these remarkable women and the world in which they lived. It thus not only shows us how their artistic contributions and cultural interventions were vital to their own era, but also demonstrates how the poetic heart of their work keeps on beating.
Ethics, or the systematized set of inquiries and responses to the question “what should I do?” has infused the history of human narrative for more than two centuries. One of the foremost theorists of ethics during the twentieth century, Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) radicalized the discipline of philosophy by arguing that “the ethical” is the foundational moment for human subjectivity, and that human subjectivity underlies all of Western philosophy. Levinas’s voice is crucial to the resurging global attention to ethics because he grapples with the quintessential problem of alterity or “otherness,” which he conceptualizes as the articulation of, and prior responsibility to, difference in relation to the competing movement toward sameness.
Academicians and journalists in Spain and abroad have recently fastened on an emerging cluster of peninsular writers who, they argue, pertain to a discernible literary generation, provisionally referred to as Generación X. These writers are distinct from their predecessors; they and their literary texts are closely related to the specific socio-political and historical circumstances in Spain and their novels relate stories of more and less proximity, more and less responsibility, and more and less temporality. In short, they trace the temporal movement of alterity through narrative.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Jeffrey Rice University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021 Library of Congress P301.5.A27R5 2021 | Dewey Decimal 808.066378
In typical academic circles, texts must be critiqued, mined for the obfuscated meanings they hide, and shown to reveal larger, broader meanings than what are initially evident. To engage in this type of writing is to perform an authentic version of scholarship. But what if a scholar chooses instead to write without critique? What if they write about travelling, their children, food, grocery shopping, frozen garlic bread, sandwiches, condiments, falafel, yoga, and moments that normally wouldn’t be considered scholarly? Can the writing still be scholarly? Can scholarly writing be authentic if its topics comprise the everyday?
In Authentic Writing, Jeff Rice uses this question to trace a position regarding critique, the role of the scholar, the role of the personal in scholarship, the banal as subject matter, and the idea of authenticity. He explores authenticity as a writing issue, a rhetorical issue, a consumption issue, a culture issue, and an ideological issue. Rather than arguing for a more authentic state or practice, Rice examines the rhetorical features of authenticity in order to expand the focus of scholarship.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States was faced with a new and radically mixed population, one that included freed African Americans, former reservation Indians, and a burgeoning immigrant population. In The Autobiography of Citizenship, Tova Cooper looks at how educators tried to impose unity on this divergent population, and how the new citizens in turn often resisted these efforts, reshaping mainstream U.S. culture and embracing their own view of what it means to be an American.
The Autobiography of Citizenship traces how citizenship education programs began popping up all over the country, influenced by the progressive approach to hands-on learning popularized by John Dewey and his followers. Cooper offers an insightful account of these programs, enlivened with compelling readings of archival materials such as photos of students in the process of learning; autobiographical writing by both teachers and new citizens; and memoirs, photos, poems, and novels by authors such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Jane Addams, Charles Reznikoff, and Emma Goldman. Indeed, Cooper provides the first comparative, inside look at these citizenship programs, revealing that they varied wildly: at one end, assimilationist boarding schools required American Indian children to transform their dress, language, and beliefs, while at the other end the libertarian Modern School encouraged immigrant children to frolic naked in the countryside and learn about the world by walking, hiking, and following their whims.
Here then is an engaging portrait of what it was like to be, and become, a U.S. citizen one hundred years ago, showing that what it means to be “American” is never static.
Winner of the 2020 SAMLA Studies Book Award — Edited Collection
Cities both near and far communicate in a variety of ways. Travel between, through, and among urban centers initiates contact, and cities themselves are sites of ever-changing cultural and historical encounters. Predictable and surprising challenges and opportunities arise when city borders are crossed, voices meet, and artistic traditions find their counterparts. Using the Latin word for “translation,” translatio, or “to carry across,” as a point of departure, Avenues of Translation explores how translation perpetuates, diversifies, deepens, and expands the literary production of cities in their greater cultural context, and how translation shapes an understanding of and access to a city's past and present literary and cultural practices. Thinking about translation and the city is a way to tell the backstories of the cities, texts, and authors that are united by acts of translation.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.