All My Relatives challenges the prevailing notion that the work of all American writers reflects a sense of determined individualism. Highlighting works by Frank Chin, Sandra Cisneros, Maxine Hong Kingston, N. Scott Momaday, Tomas Rivera, Leslie Marmon Silko, Alice Walker, and John Edgar Wideman, Bonnie TuSmith shows that a "first language of community" exists within the cultures of ethnic Americans and is evident in their literary texts. TuSmith suggests that the proper understanding of these texts demands that we dismiss an interpretive frame borrowed from European-American literature.
All My Relatives provides a new way of reading popular works such as The Woman Warrior, The Joy Luck Club, The Color Purple and John Edgar Wideman's Sent for You Yesterday. TuSmith's study will appeal to general readers as well as students and scholars of American culture, ethnic studies, and American literature.
"An original contribution to the field. TuSmith's willingness to step over invisible boundaries and to draw parallels between the cultural contexts of several ethnic groups at once is refreshing and important." --Amy Ling, University of Wisconsin, Madison
"Ambitious and timely . . . a significant work that Americanists will want to read. TuSmith does an excellent job of clarifying the meaning and significance of the term "ethnicity" in relation to American literature."--Ramón Saldívar, Stanford University
". . . TuSmith establishes the importance of traditional (usually oral) modes of expression to ethnic texts that are both relational and accessible . . . . [S]hould become a standard point of reference in the emerging field of comparative American literature."--Choice
Bonnie TuSmith is Assistant Professor of English, Bowling Green State University.
Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times: Ethnographic Fictions and Sri Lanka’s War argues that the bloody war fought between the Sri Lankan state and the separatist Tamil Tigers from 1983 to 2009 should be understood as structured and animated by the forces of global capitalism. Using Aihwa Ong’s theorization of neoliberalism as a mobile technology and assemblage, this book explores how contemporary globalization has exacerbated forces of nationalism and racism.
Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham finds that ethnographic fictions have both internalized certain colonial Orientalist impulses and critically engaged with categories of objective gazing, empiricism, and temporal distancing. She demonstrates that such fictions take seriously the task of bearing witness and documenting the complex productions of ethnic identities and the devastations wrought by warfare. To this end, Assembling Ethnicities
explores colonial-era travel writing by Robert Knox (1681) and Leonard Woolf (1913); contemporary works by Michael Ondaatje, Romesh Gunesekera, Shobasakthi, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, and Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan; and cultural festivals and theater, including vernacular performances of Euripides’s The Trojan Women and women workers’ theater.
The book interprets contemporary fictions to unpack neoliberalism’s entanglements with nationalism and racism, engaging current issues such as human rights, the pastoral, Tamil militancy, immigrant lives, feminism and nationalism, and postwar developmentalism.
The term culture in its anthropological sense did not enter the American lexicon with force until after 1910—more than a century after Herder began to use it in Germany and another thirty years after E. B. Tylor and Franz Boas made it the object of anthropological attention. Before Cultures explores this delay in the development of the culture concept and its relation to the description of difference in late nineteenth-century America.
In this work, Brad Evans weaves together the histories of American literature and anthropology. His study brings alive not only the regionalist and ethnographic fiction of the time but also revives a range of neglected materials, including the Zuni sketchbooks of anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing; popular magazines such as Century Illustrated Monthly, which published Cushing's articles alongside Henry James's; the debate between Joel Chandler Harris, author/collector of the Uncle Remus folktales, and John Wesley Powell, perhaps the most important American anthropologist of the time; and Du Bois's polemics against the culture concept as it was being developed in the early twentieth century.
Written with clarity and grace, Before Cultures will be of value to students of American literature, history, and anthropology alike.
This ground-breaking collection of new interviews, critical essays, and commentary explores South Asian identity and culture. Sensitive to the false homogeneity implied by "South Asian," "diaspora," "postcolonial," and "Asian American," the contributors attempt to unpack these terms. By examining the social, economic, and historical particularities of people who live "between the lines"—on and between borders—they reinstate questions of power and privilege, agency and resistance. As South Asians living in the United States and Canada, each to some degree must reflect on the interaction of the personal "I," the collective "we," and the world beyond.
The South Asian scholars gathered together in this volume speak from a variety of theoretical perspectives; in the essays and interviews that cross the boundaries of conventional academic disciplines, they engage in intense, sometimes contentious, debate.
Contributors: Meena Alexander, Gauri Viswanathan, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Amritjit Singh, M. G. Vassanji, Sohail Inayatullah, Ranita Chatterjee, Benita Mehta, Sanjoy Majumder, Mahasveta Barua, Sukeshi Kamra, Samir Dayal, Pushpa Naidu Parekh, Indrani Mitra, Huma Ibrahim, Amitava Kumar, Shantanu DuttaAhmed, Uma Parameswaran.
In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ.
Joyce Moore Turner's Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance is a study of the emergence of African American radicalism in Harlem, a crossroads of the African Diaspora in the early twentieth century. Turner reveals that the Harlem Renaissance was more than just an artistic fluorescence; it was also a political movement to counter racism and colonialism.
To explore the roots of the Caribbean emigres' radical ideology and the strategies used to extend agitation from Harlem to national and international platforms, the study draws on the papers and writings of Hermina Huiswoud, Cyril Briggs, the Reverend E. Ethelred Brown, Langston Hughes, and Richard B. Moore, as well as from interviews and biographies of related contemporary figures. It also incorporates census records, FBI files, and hundreds of documents from the recently opened Russian Archive.
Through a focus on Otto Huiswoud, the sole African American charter member of the Communist Party, and his wife, Hermina, Turner exposes the complex developments within the socialist and communist parties on the question of race. The account ranges beyond Harlem to Europe, Africa, and the Soviet Union to reveal the breadth, depth, and nearly global reach of the Afro-Caribbean activists' activities.
What unites and what divides Americans as a nation? Who are we, and can we strike a balance between an emphasis on our divergent ethnic origins and what we have in common? Opening with a survey of American literature through the vantage point of ethnicity, Werner Sollors examines our evolving understanding of ourselves as an Anglo-American nation to a multicultural one and the key role writing has played in that process.
Challenges of Diversity contains stories of American myths of arrival (pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, slave ships at Jamestown, steerage passengers at Ellis Island), the powerful rhetoric of egalitarian promise in the Declaration of Independence and the heterogeneous ends to which it has been put, and the recurring tropes of multiculturalism over time (e pluribus unum, melting pot, cultural pluralism). Sollors suggests that although the transformation of this settler country into a polyethnic and self-consciously multicultural nation may appear as a story of great progress toward the fulfillment of egalitarian ideals, deepening economic inequality actually exacerbates the divisions among Americans today.
Winner, 2016 ALA-Choice Outstanding Academic Title
In Chica Lit: Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century, Tace Hedrick illuminates how discourses of Americanization, ethnicity, gender, class, and commodification shape the genre of “chica lit,” popular fiction written by Latina authors with Latina characters. She argues that chica lit is produced and marketed in the same ways as contemporary romance and chick lit fiction, and aimed at an audience of twenty- to thirty-something upwardly mobile Latina readers. Its stories about young women’s ethnic class mobility and gendered romantic success tend to celebrate twenty-first century neoliberal narratives about Americanization, hard work, and individual success. However, Hedrick emphasizes, its focus on Latina characters necessarily inflects this celebratory mode: the elusiveness of meaning in its use of the very term “Latina” empties out the differences among and between Latina/o and Chicano/a groups in the United States. Of necessity, chica lit also struggles with questions about the actual social and economic “place” of Latinas and Chicanas in this same neoliberal landscape; these questions unsettle its reliance on the tried-and-true formulas of chick lit and romance writing. Looking at chica lit’s market-driven representations of difference, poverty, and Americanization, Hedrick shows how this writing functions within the larger arena of struggles over popular representation of Latinas and Chicanas.
In Codes of Conduct, Karla Holloway meditates on the dynamics of race and ethnicity as they are negotiated in the realms of power. Her uniquely insightful and intelligent analysis guides us in a fresh way through Anita Hill’s interrogation, the assault on Tawana Brawley, the mass murders of Atlanta’s children, the schisms between the personal and public domains of her life as a black professor, and––in a moving epilogue––the story of her son’s difficulties growing up as a young black male in contemporary society. Its three main sections: “The Body Politic,” “Language, Thought, and Culture,” and “The Moral Lives of Children,” relate these issues to the visual power of the black and female body, the aesthetic resonance and racialized drama of language, and our children’s precarious habits of surviving. Throughout, Holloway questions the consequences in African-American community life of citizenship that is meted out sparingly when one’s ethnicity is colored.
This is a book of a culture’s stories––from literature, public life, contemporary and historical events, aesthetic expression, and popular culture––all located within the common ground of African-American ethnicity. Holloway writes with a passion, urgency, and wit that carry the reader swiftly through each chapter. The book should take its place among those other important contemporary works that speak to the future relationships between whites and blacks in this country.
In Contemporary Latina/o Theater, Jon D. Rossini explores the complex relationship between theater and the creation of ethnicity in an unprecedented examination of six Latina/o playwrights and their works: Miguel Piñero, Luis Valdez, Guillermo Reyes, Octavio Solis, José Rivera, and Cherríe Moraga. Rossini exposes how these writers use the genre as a tool to reveal and transform existing preconceptions about their culture. Through “wrighting”—the triplicate process of writing plays, righting misconceptions about ethnic identity, and creating an entirely new way of understanding Latina/o culture—these playwrights directly intervene in current conversations regarding ethnic identity, providing the tools for audiences to reexplore their previously held perspectives outside the theater.
Examining these writers and their works in both cultural and historical contexts, Rossini reveals how playwrights use the liminal space of the stage—an area on the thresholds of both theory and reality—to “wright” new insights into Latina/o identity. They use the limits of the theater itself to offer practical explorations of issues that could otherwise be discussed only in highly theoretical terms.
Rossini traces playwrights’ methods as they address some of the most challenging issues facing contemporary Latinas/os in America: from the struggles for ethnic solidarity and the dangers of a community based in fear, to stereotypes of Latino masculinity and the problematic fusion of ethnicity and politics. Rossini discusses the looming specter of the border in theater, both as a conceptual device and as a literal reality—a crucial subject for modern Latinas/os, given recent legislation and other actions. Throughout, the author draws intriguing comparisons to the cultural limbo in which many Latinas/os find themselves today.
An indispensable volume for anyone interested in drama and ethnic studies, Contemporary Latina/o Theater underscores the power of theatricality in exploring and rethinking ethnicity. Rossini provides the most in-depth analysis of these plays to date, offering a groundbreaking look at the ability of playwrights to correct misconceptions and create fresh perspectives on diversity, culture, and identity in Latina/o America.
This dynamic, open-minded collection of essays responds to the issues raised by Werner Sollors when he argues against the rigidity of cultural pluralism, against the ethnic group-by-group segregation of American literature. Instead he calls for an openly transethinic recognition of cross-cultural interplays and connections among all so-called groups and their canons. In enthusiastic response to such issues, the contributors explore a variety of approaches to pluralism, multiculturalism, group identity, and the problematics of authenticity in literary texts and criticism both historically and currently.
The scholars in this civil, persuasive volume are at home in an international world that crosses linguistic, cultural, and national boundaries. They thus transcend the customary restrictions of earlier, relatively isolationist scholarship to form new, nonpolemical links among cultural identities. This relationship between oral modes of communal identity and writing in tribal cultures joins an examination of Houston Baker's discursive strategies. A consideration of ethnic humor in the writings of Zora Neale Hurston and Jerre Mangione and a discussion of Jean Toomer's racial persona offer striking contextualizations. Two contributors study discursive constructions of mestizaje in Chicano/a texts, followed by essays on cultural difference in Faulkner's Light in August and Roth's Call It Sleep.Finally, Werner Sollers's essay extends the interactions among all these energetic, nonjudgmental dialogues.
Although George Eliot has long been described as “the novelist of the Midlands,” she often brought the outer reaches of the empire home in her work. Dark Smiles: Race and Desire in George Eliot studies Eliot’s problematic, career-long interest in representing racial and ethnic Otherness.
Placing Eliot’s diverse and wide-ranging treatment of Otherness in its contemporary context, Alicia Carroll argues that Eliot both engages and resists traditional racial and ethnic representations of Otherness. Carroll finds that Eliot, like other women writers of her time, often appropriates narratives of Otherness to explore issues silenced in mainstream Victorian culture, particularly the problem of the desirous woman. But if Otherness in Eliot’s century was usually gendered as woman and constructed as the object of white male desire, Eliot often seeks to subvert that vision. Professor Carroll demonstrates Eliot’s tendency to “exoticize” images of girlhood, vocation, and maternity in order to critique and explore gendered subjectivities. Indeed, the disruptive presence of a racial or ethnic outsider often fractures Eliot’s narratives of community, creating a powerful critique of home culture.
The consistent reliance of Eliot’s work upon racial and ethnic Otherness as a mode of cultural critique is explored here for the first time in its entirety.
Colonial discourse in the United States has tended to criminalize, pathologize, and depict as savage not only Native Americans but Mexican immigrants, indigenous peoples in Mexico, and Chicanas/os as well. While postcolonial studies of the past few decades have focused on how these ethnicities have been constructed by others, Disrupting Savagism reveals how each group, in turn, has actively attempted to create for itself a social and textual space in which certain negative prevailing discourses are neutralized and rendered ineffective. Arturo J. Aldama begins by presenting a genealogy of the term “savage,” looking in particular at the work of American ethnologist Lewis Henry Morgan and a sixteenth-century debate between Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda and Bartolomé de las Casas. Aldama then turns to more contemporary narratives, examining ethnography, fiction, autobiography, and film to illuminate the historical ideologies and ethnic perspectives that contributed to identity formation over the centuries. These works include anthropologist Manuel Gamio’s The Mexican Immigrant: His Life Story, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, and Miguel Arteta’s film Star Maps. By using these varied genres to investigate the complex politics of racialized, subaltern, feminist, and diasporic identities, Aldama reveals the unique epistemic logic of hybrid and mestiza/o cultural productions. The transcultural perspective of Disrupting Savagism will interest scholars of feminist postcolonial processes in the United States, as well as students of Latin American, Native American, and literary studies.
Ethnic literature figures prominently in the current debate on multiculturalism, but even its supporters have had little to say about it as literature, stressing instead its political and sociological context. Thomas J. Ferraro, in this lively and accessible study of modern fiction by Americans of immigrant background, argues that the best of these stories demand—and reward—close reading and attention to questions of genre and literary form.
Ferraro engages the literature of immigration and mobility by asking what motivates its authors and what their work actually accomplishes. He concentrates on five diverse examples of the "up-from-the-ghetto" narrative: Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers, Henry Roth's Call It Sleep, Henry Miller's "The Tailor Shop," and Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. To Ferraro the unsuspected value of these works is that they recast the conventions of ethnic representation, illustrating the power of ethnic writing to capture and redirect the national literary imagination.
Ferraro's sharply observed reading of these five works shows how such reenactments of immigrant mobility test the ideology of assimilation against the writer's experience. Ethnic Passages will refocus discussion of how literature addresses the American conflict between ethnic heritage and the greater opportunities of "mainstream" society.
Growing Up Ethnic examines the presence of literary similarities between African American and Jewish American coming-of-age stories in the first half of the twentieth century; often these similarities exceed what could be explained by sociohistorical correspondences alone. Martin Japtok argues that these similarities result from the way both African American and Jewish American authors have conceptualized their "ethnic situation." The issue of "race" and its social repercussions certainly defy any easy comparisons. However, the fact that the ethnic situations are far from identical in the case of these two groups only highlights the striking thematic correspondences in how a number of African American and Jewish American coming-of-age stories construct ethnicity. Japtok studies three pairs of novels--James Weldon Johnson's Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man and Samuel Ornitz's Haunch, Paunch and Jowl, Jessie Fauset's Plum Bun and Edna Ferber's Fanny Herself, and Paule Marshall's Brown Girl, Brownstones and Anzia Yezierska's Bread Giver--and argues that the similarities can be explained with reference to mainly two factors, ultimately intertwined: cultural nationalism and the Bildungsroman genre. Growing Up Ethnic shows that the parallel configurations in the novels, which often see ethnicity in terms of spirituality, as inherent artistic ability, and as communal responsibility, are rooted in nationalist ideology. However, due to the authors' generic choice--the Bildungsroman--the tendency to view ethnicity through the rhetorical lens of communalism and spiritual essence runs head-on into the individualist assumptions of the protagonist-centered Bildungsroman. The negotiations between these ideological counterpoints characterize the novels and reflect and refract the intellectual ferment of their time. This fresh look at ethnic American literatures in the context of cultural nationalism and the Bildungsroman will be of great interest to students and scholars of literary and race studies.
In Healing Narratives, Gay Wilentz explores the relationship between culture and health. In close reading of works by five women writers - Toni Cade Bambara, Erna Broder, Leslie Marmon Silko, Keri Hulme, and Jo Sinclair-she traces the narrative and structural similarities of a main character moving form a state of mental or physical disease toward wellness through reconnection with her cultural traditions. Whether due to the history of diaspora, colonial oppression, or the subversion of traditional culture by modernity, illness can only be overcome when the cultural construction of disease is recognized and a link to the indigenous is restored. Wilentz's cross-cultural approach-African American, Jamaican, Native American, Maori, and Jewish stories-offers a rich context from which the basis of cultural illness can be examined.
How ironic, the author thought on learning of the Sandinista’s electoral defeat, that at its death the Revolutionary State left Woman, Violeta Chamorro, located at the center. The election signaled the end of one transition and the beginning of another, with Woman somewhere on the border between the neo-liberal and marxist projects. It is such transitions that Ileana Rodríguez takes up here, unraveling their weave of gender, ethnicity, and nation as it is revealed in literature written by women. In House/Garden/Nation the narratives of five Centro-Caribbean writers illustrate these times of transition: Dulce María Loynáz, from colonial rule to independence in Cuba; Jean Rhys, from colony to commonwealth in Dominica; Simone Schwarz-Bart, from slave to free labor in Guadeloupe; Gioconda Belli, from oligarchic capitalism to social democratic socialism in Nicaragua; and Teresa de la Parra, from independence to modernity in Venezuela. Focusing on the nation as garden, hacienda, or plantation, Rodríguez shows us these writers debating the predicament of women under nation formation from within the confines of marriage and home. In reading these post-colonial literatures by women facing the crisis of transition, this study highlights urgent questions of destitution, migration, exile, and inexperience, but also networks of value allotted to women: beauty, clothing, love. As a counterpoint on issues of legality, policy, and marriage, Rodriguez includes a chapter on male writers: José Eustacio Rivera, Omar Cabezas, and Romulo Gallegos. Her work presents a sobering picture of women at a crossroads, continually circumscribed by history and culture, writing their way.
What does it mean to be a “mixed-blood,” and how has our understanding of this term changed over the last two centuries? What processes have shaped American thinking on racial blending? Why has the figure of the mixed-blood, thought too offensive for polite conversation in the nineteenth century, become a major representative of twentieth-century native consciousness?
In Injun Joe’s Ghost, Harry J. Brown addresses these questions within the interrelated contexts of anthropology, U.S. Indian policy, and popular fiction by white and mixed-blood writers, mapping the evolution of “hybridity” from a biological to a cultural category. Brown traces the processes that once mandated the mixed-blood’s exile as a grotesque or criminal outcast and that have recently brought about his ascendance as a cultural hero in contemporary Native American writing.
Because the myth of the demise of the Indian and the ascendance of the Anglo-Saxon is traditionally tied to America’s national idea, nationalist literature depicts Indian-white hybrids in images of degeneracy, atavism, madness, and even criminality. A competing tradition of popular writing, however, often created by mixed-blood writers themselves, contests these images of the outcast half-breed by envisioning “hybrid vigor,” both biologically and linguistically, as a model for a culturally heterogeneous nation.
Injun Joe’s Ghost focuses on a significant figure in American history and culture that has, until now, remained on the periphery of academic discourse. Brown offers an in-depth discussion of many texts, including dime novels and Depression-era magazine fiction, that have been almost entirely neglected by scholars. This volume also covers texts such as the historical romances of the 1820s and the novels of the twentieth-century “Native American Renaissance” from a fresh perspective. Investigating a broad range of genres and subject over two hundred year of American writing, Injun Joe’s Ghost will be useful to students and professionals in the fields of American literature, popular culture, and native studies.
Winnifred Eaton, better known under her Japanese-sounding pseudonym, Onoto Watanna, published over a dozen novels and hundreds of short stories, articles, and screenplays during the first half of the twentieth century. However, by the time of her death in 1954, most of her books were out of print.
Eaton attempted to disguise her Chinese heritage by writing under a hypothetically Japanese pen name. In legal documents, she usually claimed a "white" racial identity. In her fiction, Eaton portrayed Japanese, Chinese, Irish, and American characters, relying on the accepted stereotypes of the day. Jean Lee Cole shows that the many voices Eaton adopted show her deep preoccupations with "American" identity as a whole. The author attempts to reconcile all of these "voices," examining how Eaton survived in a climate hostile to minority writers in the early twentieth century, and how her seemingly anomalous works conjoin Asian American and American literary history.
Narrative, Race, and Ethnicity in the United States, edited by James J. Donahue, Jennifer Ho, and Shaun Morgan, is the first book-length volume of essays devoted to studying the intersection of race/ethnicity and narrative theories. Each chapter offers a sustained engagement with narrative theory and critical race theory as applied to ethnic American literature, exploring the interpretive possibilities of this critical intersection. Taken as a whole, these chapters demonstrate some of the many ways that the formal study of narrative can help us better understand the racial/ethnic tensions of narrative fictions. Similarly, the essays advance the tools of narrative theory by redeploying or redesigning those tools to better account for and articulate the ways that race and ethnicity are formal components of narrative as well as thematic issues.
Recognizing that racial/ethnic issues and tensions are often contextualized geographically, this volume focuses on narratives associated with various racial and ethnic communities in the United States. By engaging with new developments in narrative theory and critical race studies, this volume demonstrates the vitality of using the tools of narratology and critical race theory together to understand how race influences narrative and how narratology illuminates a reading of race in ethnic American literature.
During the last two decades of the twentieth century, U.S. Latina writers have made a profound impact on American letters with fiction in both mainstream and regional venues. Following on the heels of this vibrant and growing body of work, New Latina Narrative offers the first in-depth synthesis and literary analysis of this transethnic genre. Focusing on the dynamic writing published in the 1980s and 1990s by Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban American, and Domincan American women, New Latina Narrative illustrates how these writers have redefined the concepts of multiculturalism and diversity in American society. As participants in both mainstream and grassroots forms of multiculturalism, these new Latina narrativists have created a feminine space within postmodern ethnicity, disrupting the idealistic veneer of diversity with which publishers often market this fiction. In this groundbreaking study, author Ellen McCracken opens the conventional boundaries of Latino/a literary criticism, incorporating elements of cultural studies theory and contemporary feminism. Emphasizing the diversity within new Latina narrative, McCracken discusses the works of more than two dozen writers, including Julia Alvarez, Denise Chávez, Sandra Cisneros, Cristina Garcia, Graciela Limón, Demetria Martínez, Pat Mora, Cherríe Moraga, Mary Helen Ponce, and Helena María Viramontes. She stresses such themes as the resignification of master narrative, the autobiographical self and collective identity, popular religiosity, subculture and transgression, and narrative harmony and dissonance. New Latina Narrative provides readers an enriched basis for reconceiving the overall Latino/a literary field and its relation to other contemporary literary and cultural trends. McCracken's original approach extends the Latina literary canon—both the works to be studied and the issues to be examined—resulting in a valuable work for all readers of women's studies, contemporary American literature, ethnic studies, communications, and sociology.
In this engaging, optimistic close reading of five late twentieth-century novels by American women, Magali Cornier Michael illuminates the ways in which their authors engage with ideas of communal activism, common commitment, and social transformation. The fictions she examines imagine coalition building as a means of moving toward new forms of nonhierarchical justice; for ethnic cultures that, as a result of racist attitudes, have not been assimilated, power with each other rather than power over each other is a collective goal.Michael argues that much contemporary American fiction by women offers models of care and nurturing that move away from the private sphere toward the public and political. Specifically, texts by women from such racially marked ethnic groups as African American, Asian American, Native American, and Mexican American draw from the rich systems of thought, histories, and experiences of these hybrid cultures and thus offer feminist and ethical revisions of traditional concepts of community, coalition, subjectivity, and agency.Focusing on Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven, Ana Castillo’s So Far from God, and Toni Morrison’s Paradise, Michael shows that each writer emphasizes the positive, liberating effects of kinship and community. These hybrid versions of community, which draw from other-than-dominant culturally specific ideas and histories, have something to offer Americans as the United States moves into an increasingly diverse twenty-first century. Michael provides a rich lens through which to view both contemporary fiction and contemporary life.
At a time when Asian American theater is enjoying a measure of growth and success, Josephine Lee tells us about the complex social and political issues depicted by Asian American playwrights. By looking at performances and dramatic texts, Lee argues that playwrights produce a different conception of "Asian America" in accordance with their unique set of sensibilities.
For instance, some Asian American playwrights critique the separation of issues of race and ethnicity from those of economics and class, or they see ethnic identity as a voluntary choice of lifestyle rather than an impetus for concerted political action. Others deal with the problem of cultural stereotypes and how to reappropriate their power. Lee is attuned to the complexities and contradictions of such performances, and her trenchant thinking about the criticisms lobbed at Asian American playwrights -- for their choices in form, perpetuation of stereotype, or apparent sexism or homophobia -- leads her to question how the presentation of Asian American identity in the theater parallels problems and possibilities of identity offstage as well.
Discussed are better-known plays such as Frank Chin's The Chickencoop Chinaman, David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, and Velina Hasu Houston's Tea, and new works like Jeannie Barroga's Walls and Wakako Yamauchi's 12-1-a.
What did it mean for people of color in nineteenth-century America to speak or write "white"? More specifically, how many and what kinds of meaning could such "white" writing carry? In ReWriting White, Todd Vogel looks at how America has racialized language and aesthetic achievement. To make his point, he showcases the surprisingly complex interactions between four nineteenth-century writers of color and the "standard white English" they adapted for their own moral, political, and social ends. The African American, Native American, and Chinese American writers Vogel discusses delivered their messages in a manner that simultaneously demonstrated their command of the dominant discourse of their times-using styles and addressing forums considered above their station-and fashioned a subversive meaning in the very act of that demonstration.
The close readings and meticulous archival research in ReWriting White upend our conventional expectations, enrich our understanding of the dynamics of hegemony and cultural struggle, and contribute to the efforts of other cutting-edge contemporary scholars to chip away at the walls of racial segregation that have for too long defined and defaced the landscape of American literary and cultural studies.
England and the Netherlands, Spain's imperial rivals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, imagined Spain as cruel and degenerate barbarians of la leyenda negra (the Black Legend), in league with the powers of "blackest darkness" and driven by "dark motives." In Spain's Long Shadow, Maria DeGuzman explores how this convenient demonization made its way into American culture - and proved essential to the construction of whiteness. DeGuzman's work reaches from the late eighteenth century - in the wake of the American Revolution - to the present. Surveying a broad range of texts and images from Poe's "William Wilson" and John Singer Sargent's "El Jaleo" to Richard Wright's "Pagan Spain" and Kathy Acker's Don Quixote, Spain's Long Shadow shows how the creation of Anglo-American ethnicity as specifically American has depended on the casting of Spain as a colonial alter ego. The symbolic power of Spain in the American imagination, DeGuzman argues, is not just a legacy of that nation's colonial presence in the Americas; it lives on as well in the "blackness" of Spain and Spainards - in the assigning of people of Spanish origin to an "off-white" racial category that reserves the designation of white for Anglo-Americans.By demonstrating how the Anglo-American imagination needs Spain and Spainards as figures of attraction and repulsion, DeGuzman makes a compelling and illuminating case for treating Spain as the imperial alter ego of the United States. Cross-cultural and interdisciplinary, ambitious in its chronological sweep, and elegant in its interpretation of literary and visual works, DeGuzman's book leads us to a powerful new understanding of the nature - and history - American ethnicity.
Sometime near the start of the 1990s, the future became a place of national decline. The United States had entered a period of great anxiety fueled by the shrinking of the white middle class, the increasingly visible misery of poor urban blacks, and the mass immigration of nonwhites. Perhaps more than any other event marking the passage through these dark years, the 1992 Los Angeles riots have sparked imaginative and critical works reacting to this profound pessimism. Focusing on a wide range of these creative works, Min Hyoung Song shows how the L.A. riots have become a cultural-literary event—an important reference and resource for imagining the social problems plaguing the United States and its possible futures.
Song considers works that address the riots and often the traumatic place of the Korean American community within them: the independent documentary Sa-I-Gu (Korean for April 29, the date the riots began), Chang-rae Lee’s novel Native Speaker, the commercial film Strange Days, and the experimental drama of Anna Deavere Smith, among many others. He describes how cultural producers have used the riots to examine the narrative of national decline, manipulating language and visual elements, borrowing and refashioning familiar tropes, and, perhaps most significantly, repeatedly turning to metaphors of bodily suffering to convey a sense of an unraveling social fabric. Song argues that these aesthetic experiments offer ways of revisiting the traumas of the past in order to imagine more survivable futures.
It is a persistent image in Caribbean literature. But for Caribbean women especially, salt—particularly the image of sucking salt—has long signified how they have endured hardship and found ways to transcend it.
In this study of Caribbean women writers, Meredith Gadsby examines the fiction and poetry of both emigrant and island women to explore strategies they have developed for overcoming the oppression of racism, sexism, and economic deprivation in their lives and work. She first reviews the cultural and historical significance of salt in the Caribbean, then delineates creative resistance to oppression as expressed in the literature of Caribbean women writing about their migration to the United States, Great Britain, and Canada.
From British poet Dorothea Smartt to Edwidge Danticat of New York’s Haitian community—and with a special emphasis on the creative artistry of Paule Marshall—Gadsby shows how, through migration, these writers’ protagonists move into and through metropolitan spaces to create new realities for themselves, their families, and their communities. Her work draws on critical and ethnographic studies as well as creative works to take in a range of topics, not only considering the salty sexuality of calypso songs and offering new insights into Jamaican slackness culture but also plumbing her own family history to weave the travels of her mother and aunts from Barbados into her studies of migrating writers.
Through these close readings, Gadsby shows that Caribbean women express complex identities born out of migration and develop practical approaches to hardship that enable them to negotiate themselves out of difficulty. Her innovative study reveals that “sucking salt” is an articulation of a New World voice connoting adaptation, improvisation, and creativity—and lending itself to new understandings of diaspora, literature, and feminism.
To Be Suddenly White explores the troubled relationship between literary passing and literary realism, the dominant aesthetic motivation behind the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century ethnic texts considered in this study. Steven J. Belluscio uses the passing narrative to provide insight into how the representation of ethnic and racial subjectivity served, in part, to counter dominant narratives of difference.
To Be Suddenly White offers new readings of traditional passing narratives from the African American literary tradition, such as James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, Nella Larsen’s Passing, and George Schuyler’s Black No More. It is also the first full-length work to consider a number of Jewish American and Italian American prose texts, such as Mary Antin’s The Promised Land, Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, and Guido d’Agostino’s Olives on the Apple Tree, as racial passing narratives in their own right. Belluscio also demonstrates the contradictions that result from the passing narrative’s exploration of racial subjectivity, racial difference, and race itself.
When they are seen in comparison, ideological differences begin to emerge between African American passing narratives and “white ethnic” (Jewish American and Italian American) passing narratives. According to Belluscio, the former are more likely to engage in a direct critique of ideas of race, while the latter have a tendency to become more simplistic acculturation narratives in which a character moves from a position of ethnic difference to one of full American identity.
The desire “to be suddenly white” serves as a continual point of reference for Belluscio, enabling him to analyze how writers, even when overtly aware of the problematic nature of race (especially African American writers), are also aware of the conditions it creates, the transformations it provokes, and the consequences of both. Byexamining the content and context of these works, Belluscio elucidates their engagement with discourses of racial and ethnic differences, assimilation, passing, and identity, an approach that has profound implications for the understanding of American literary history.
The dawn of the twentieth century saw the birth of the New Woman, a cultural and literary ideal that replaced Victorian expectations of domesticity with visions of social, political, and economic autonomy. Although such writers as Edith Wharton and Kate Chopin treated these ideals in well-known literature of that era, marginalized women also explored changing gender roles in works that deserve more attention today.
This book is the first study to focus solely on multiethnic women writers’ responses to the ideal of the New Woman in America, opening up a world of literary texts that provide new insight into the phenomenon. Charlotte Rich reveals how these authors uniquely articulated the contradictions of the American New Woman, and how social class, race, or ethnicity impacted women’s experiences of both public and private life in the Progressive era.
Rich focuses on the work of writers representing five distinct ethnicities: Native Americans S. Alice Callahan and Mourning Dove, African American Pauline Hopkins, Chinese American Sui Sin Far, Mexican American María Cristina Mena, and Jewish American Anzia Yezierska. She shows that some oftheir works contain both affirmative and critical portraits of white New Women; in other cases, while these authorsalign their multiethnic heroines with the new ideals, those ideals are sometimes subordinated to more urgent dialogues about inequality and racial violence.
Here are views of women not usually encountered in fiction of this era. Callahan’s and Mourning Dove’s novels allude to women’s rights but ultimately privilege critiques of violence against Native Americans. Hopkins’s novels trace an increasingly pessimistic trajectory, drawing cynical conclusions about black women’s ability to thrive in a prejudiced society. Mena’s magazine portraits of Mexican life present complex critiques of this independent ideal of womanhood. Yezierska’s stories question the philanthropy of socially privileged Progressive female reformers with whom immigrant women interact. These writers’ works sometimes affirm emerging ideals but in other cases illuminate the iconic New Woman’s blindness to her own racial and economic privilege.
Through her insightful analysis, Rich presents alternative versions of female autonomy, with characters living outside the mainstream or moving between cultures. Transcending the New Woman offers multiple ways of transcending an ideal that was problematic in its exclusivity, as well as an entrée to forgotten works. It shows how the concept of the New Woman can be seen in newly complex ways when viewed through the writings of authors whose lives often embody the New Woman’s emancipatory goals—and whose fictions both affirm and complicateher aspirations.
Expanding the scope of American borderland and frontier literary scholarship, West of the Border examines the writings of nineteenth- and turn-of-the-century Native, African, Asian, and Anglo American frontier writers. This book views frontiers as “human spaces” where cultures make contact as it considers multicultural frontier writers who speak from “west of the border.”
James P. Beckwourth, a half-black fur trader; Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, a Paiute translator; Salishan author Mourning Dove; Cherokee novelist John Rollin Ridge; Sui Sin Far, an Anglo-Chinese short story writer, and her sister, romance novelist Onoto Watanna; and Mary Austin, a white southwestern writer- each of these intercultural writers faces a rite of passage into a new social order. Their writings negotiate their various frontier ordeals: the encroachment of pioneers on the land; reservation life; assimilation; Christianity; battles over territories and resources; exclusion; miscegenation laws; and the devastation of the environment.
In West of the Border, Noreen Groover Lape raises issues inherent in American pluralism today by broaching timely concerns about American frontier politics, conceptualizing frontiers as intercultural contact zones, and expanding the boundaries of frontier literary studies by giving voice to minority writers.
During the first half of the twentieth century, American Jews demonstrated a commitment to racial justice as well as an attraction to African American culture. Until now, the debate about whether such black-Jewish encounters thwarted or enabled Jews’ claims to white privilege has focused on men and representations of masculinity while ignoring questions of women and femininity. The White Negress investigates literary and cultural texts by Jewish and African American women, opening new avenues of inquiry that yield more complex stories about Jewishness, African American identity, and the meanings of whiteness.
Lori Harrison-Kahan examines writings by Edna Ferber, Fannie Hurst, and Zora Neale Hurston, as well as the blackface performances of vaudevillian Sophie Tucker and controversies over the musical and film adaptations of Show Boat and Imitation of Life. Moving between literature and popular culture, she illuminates how the dynamics of interethnic exchange have at once produced and undermined the binary of black and white.