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All about Skin
Short Fiction by Women of Color
Edited by Jina Ortiz and Rochelle Spencer, Foreword by Helena María Viramontes
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
All about Skin features twenty-seven stories by women writers of color whose short fiction has earned them a range of honors, including John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Flannery O'Connor Award, and inclusion in the Best American Short Stories and O. Henry anthologies. The prose in this multicultural anthology addresses such themes as racial prejudice, media portrayal of beauty, and family relationships and spans genres from the comic and the surreal to startling realism. It demonstrates the power and range of some of the most exciting women writing short fiction today.
            The stories are by American writers Aracelis González Asendorf, Jacqueline Bishop, Glendaliz Camacho, Learkana Chong, Jennine Capó Crucet, Ramola D., Patricia Engel, Amina Gautier, Manjula Menon, ZZ Packer, Princess Joy L. Perry, Toni Margarita Plummer, Emily Raboteau, Ivelisse Rodriguez, Metta Sáma, Joshunda Sanders, Renee Simms, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Hope Wabuke, and Ashley Young; Nigerian writers Unoma Azuah and Chinelo Okparanta; and Chinese writer Xu Xi.

Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians

Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Reviewers  
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All My Relatives
Community in Contemporary Ethnic American Literatures
Bonnie TuSmith
University of Michigan Press, 1994
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.
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American Babel
Literatures of the United States from Abnaki to Zuni
Marc Shell
Harvard University Press, 2002
If ever there was a polyglot place on the globe (other than the Tower of Babel), America between 1750 and 1850 was it. Here three continents—North America, Africa, and Europe—met and spoke not as one, but in Amerindian and African languages, in German and English, Spanish, French, and Dutch. How this prodigious multilingualism lost its voice in the making of the American canon and in everyday American linguistic practice is the problem American Babel approaches from a variety of angles. Looking at the first Arabic-language African-American slave narrative, at quirks of translation in Greek-American bilingual books, and at the strategies of Yiddish women poets and Welsh-American dramatists, contributors show how linguistic resistance opposes the imperative of linguistic assimilation. They address matters of literary authority in Irish Gaelic writing, Creole novels, and the multiple voices of the Zuni storyteller; and in essays on Haitian, Welsh, Spanish, and Chinese literatures, they trace the relationship between domestic nationalism and immigrant internationalism, between domestic citizenship and immigrant ethnicity.
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Beyond Memory
An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Creative Nonfiction
Pauline Kaldas
University of Arkansas Press, 2020
This anthology brings together the voices of both new and established Arab American writers in a compilation of creative nonfiction that reveals the stories of the Arab diaspora in styles that range from the traditional to the experimental. Writers from Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, and Syria explore issues related to politics, family, culture, and racism. Coming from different belief systems and cultures and including first- and second-generation immigrants as well as those whose identities encompass more than a single culture, these writers tell stories that speak to the complexity of the Arab American experience.
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BLACK BRITISH LITERATURE
NOVELS OF TRANSFORMATION
MARK STEIN
The Ohio State University Press, 2004

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Cosmodernism
American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary
Christian Moraru
University of Michigan Press, 2010

"Christian Moraru is an especially dynamic and brilliant scholar who works at a high level of critical and theoretical sophistication. I've never seen anything quite so exhaustive, so magisterial. Readers of Cosmodernism will think of the Keats line about an astronomer's exhilaration when a new planet swims into his ken."
---David Cowart, University of South Carolina

"Cosmodernism has the potential to become foundational for the study of a whole period. Christian Moraru undertakes here to establish a new basis for thinking about the era of cultural history in which we have found ourselves, in the United States but also around the world, since the end of the Cold War. The strength of Moraru's work lies in its intellectual ambition and scope; its polymathic range and breadth of learning; its confident mastery of a variety of disciplinary discourses; its fresh and thoughtful selection of texts for discussion; the sharpness and insight of its textual analyses; and, animating everything, its fervent commitment to a new and better way of understanding our relationship to others and the world at large."
---Brian McHale, The Ohio State University

A sweeping inquiry into post–Cold War American literature and theory, Cosmodernism argues, cautiously but persuasively, for the rise of a new cultural paradigm against the backdrop of accelerating globalization. Moraru calls this paradigm "cosmodern." He uses the term to account for what seems to be gradually challenging the postmodern over the last twenty-odd years. Not so much a well-structured movement yet, cosmodernism is chiefly a critical construct enabling Moraru to articulate representative literary-theoretical interventions of the past two decades into a reasonably coherent model. The coherence inheres, he shows, in a certain "relational" imaginary, which the critic canvasses by placing a wide range of authors and works in, across, and against the material-conceptual networks of globalization, cosmopolitanism, modernism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, multiculturalism, and other areas of contemporary U.S. intellectual history.

Christian Moraru is Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. His latest books include Rewriting: Postmodern Narrative and Cultural Critique in the Age of Cloning (2001), Memorious Discourse: Reprise and Representation in Postmodernism (2005), and the edited collection Postcommunism, Postmodernism, and the Global Imagination (2009).

Cover art: Earth, oil and acrylic on canvas, 48" × 36", 2008. Painting courtesy of Rebecca Darlington.

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Cultural Difference and the Literary Text
Pluralism and the Limits of Authenticity in North American Literature
Winfried Siemerling
University of Iowa Press, 1997

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.

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Diverse Futures
Science Fiction and Authors of Color
Joy Sanchez-Taylor
The Ohio State University Press, 2021
Winner, 2021 Northeast Popular Culture Association's Peter C. Rollins Book PrizeDiverse Futures: Science Fiction and Authors of Color examines the contributions of late-twentieth- and twenty-first-century US and Canadian science fiction authors of color. By looking at the intersections among science fiction authors of multiple races and ethnicities, Joy Sanchez-Taylor seeks to explain how these authors of color are juxtaposing tropes of science fiction with specific cultural references to comment on issues of inclusiveness in Eurowestern cultures. The central argument of this work is that these authors are challenging science fiction’s history of Eurocentric representation through the depiction of communities of color in fantastic or futuristic settings, specifically by using cognitive estrangement and the inclusion of non-Eurowestern cultural beliefs and practices to comment on the alienation of racially dominated groups. By exploring science fiction tropes—such as first contact, genetic modification, post-apocalyptic landscapes, and advanced technologies in the works of Octavia E. Butler, Ted Chiang, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and many others—Sanchez-Taylor demonstrates how authors of various races and ethnicities write science fiction that pays homage to the genre while also creating a more diverse and inclusive portrait of the future.
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Diversity in Youth Literature
Opening Doors through Reading
Jamie Campbell Naidoo
American Library Association, 2013

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Ethnic Modernism
Werner Sollors
Harvard University Press, 2008

In the first half of the twentieth century, the United States moved from the periphery to the center of global cultural production. At the same time, technologies of dissemination evolved rapidly, and versions of modernism emerged as dominant art forms. How did African American, European immigrant, and other minority writers take part in these developments that also transformed the United States, giving it an increasingly multicultural self-awareness? This book attempts to address this question in a series of innovative and engaging close readings of major texts by Gertrude Stein, Mary Antin, Jean Toomer, O. E. Rölvaag, Nathan Asch, Henry Roth, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Pietro di Donato, Jerre Mangione, John Hersey, and Leo Szilard, as well as briefer examinations of many other authors and works, against the background of international political developments, the rise of modernism in the visual arts, and the ascendancy of Ernest Hemingway as a model for prose writers.

In many of Werner Sollors’s sensitive readings, single sentences and paragraphs serve as the representative formal units of prose works, while throughout Ethnic Modernism the trolley (now a cute-seeming object of nostalgia) emerges with surprising frequency as a central thematic emblem of modernity.

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Ethnic Passages
Literary Immigrants in Twentieth-Century America
Thomas J. Ferraro
University of Chicago Press, 1993
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.
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The Future of Literary Archives
Diasporic and Dispersed Collections at Risk
David C. Sutton
Arc Humanities Press, 2018
Literary archives differ from most other types of archival papers in that their locations are more diverse and difficult to predict. The essays collected in this book derive from the recent work of the Diasporic Literary Archives Network, whose focus on diaspora provides a philosophical framework which gives a highly original set of points of reference for the study of literary archives, including concepts such as the natural home, the appropriate location, exile, dissidence, fugitive existence, cultural hegemony, patrimony, heritage, and economic migration.
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Growing Up in the Gutter
Diaspora and Comics
Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo; Foreword by Frederick Luis Aldama
University of Arizona Press, 2024
Growing Up in the Gutter offers new understandings of contemporary graphic coming-of-age narratives by looking at the genre’s growth in stories by and for young BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and diasporic readers. Through a careful examination of the genre, Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo analyzes the complex identity formation of first- and subsequent-generation migrant protagonists in globalized rural and urban environments and dissects the implications that these diasporic formative processes have for a growing and popular genre.

While the most traditional iteration of the bildungsroman—the coming-of-age story—follows middle-class male heroes who forge their identities in a process of complex introspection, contemporary graphic coming-of-age narratives represent formative processes that fit into, resist, or even disregard narratives of socialization under capitalism, of citizenship, and of nationhood.

Quintana-Vallejo delves into several important themes: how the coming-of-age genre can be used to study adulthood, how displacement and international or global heritage are fundamental experiences, how multidiasporic approaches foreground lived experiences, and how queerness opens narratives of development to the study of adulthood as fundamentally diverse and nonconforming to social norms. Quintana-Vallejo shows how openness enables belonging among chosen families and, perhaps most importantly, freedom to disidentify. And, finally, how contemporary authors writing for the instruction of BIPOC children (and children otherwise affected by diaspora and displacement) use the didactic power of the coming-of-age genre, combined with the hybrid language of graphic narratives, to teach difficult topics in accessible ways.
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Humor Me
An Anthology of Humor by Writers of Color
John McNally
University of Iowa Press, 2002
The first anthology of its kind, Humor Me is a celebration of humor by authors from diverse cultures. Sixteen of today's most exciting writers—among them Sherman Alexie, Gish Jen, Charles Johnson, and Lucille Clifton—are represented in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, cartoons, and graphic narratives. Whether using satire, parody, or farce, these writers explore the universal themes of love, family, sex, and race, and they do so in their own edgy, subversive, and sometimes skewed ways.
In Sherman Alexie's short story “Assimilation,” a Coeur d’Alene woman wants to cheat on her white husband with an Indian man, any Indian man—or, as Alexie puts it, “an indigenous stranger.” In Sandra Tsing Loh's essay “Daddy Dearest,” the author cringes when an old friend asks if her father still wears his underwear backward and does the Chinese snake dance on Pacific Coast Highway.
Nothing in Humor Me is taboo, as Erika Lopez proves in her illustrated tale of one environmentally conscious woman's attempt to subvert the tampon industry. Jim Northrup even takes on that American institution Jeopardy! in his satire “Shinnob Jep,” describing a game that quizzes its contestants on Native American trivia, including the categories “Trick or Treaties” and “Rez Cars.” From low-brow to high-brow, from belly laughs to the cerebral, Humor Me places internationally renowned writers such as Charles Johnson and Gish Jen alongside rising stars Paisley Rekdal and Michele Serros and a host of newcomers, including Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Daniel Chacón.
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Infrastructures of Apocalypse
American Literature and the Nuclear Complex
Jessica Hurley
University of Minnesota Press, 2020

A new approach to the vast nuclear infrastructure and the apocalypses it produces, focusing on Black, queer, Indigenous, and Asian American literatures

Since 1945, America has spent more resources on nuclear technology than any other national project. Although it requires a massive infrastructure that touches society on myriad levels, nuclear technology has typically been discussed in a limited, top-down fashion that clusters around powerful men. In Infrastructures of Apocalypse, Jessica Hurley turns this conventional wisdom on its head, offering a new approach that focuses on neglected authors and Black, queer, Indigenous, and Asian American perspectives.

Exchanging the usual white, male “nuclear canon” for authors that include James Baldwin, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Ruth Ozeki, Infrastructures of Apocalypse delivers a fresh literary history of post-1945 America that focuses on apocalypse from below. Here Hurley critiques the racialized urban spaces of civil defense and reads nuclear waste as a colonial weapon. Uniting these diverse lines of inquiry is Hurley’s belief that apocalyptic thinking is not the opposite of engagement but rather a productive way of imagining radically new forms of engagement.

Infrastructures of Apocalypse offers futurelessness as a place from which we can construct a livable world. It fills a blind spot in scholarship on American literature of the nuclear age, while also offering provocative, surprising new readings of such well-known works as Atlas Shrugged, Infinite Jest, and Angels in America. Infrastructures of Apocalypse is a revelation for readers interested in nuclear issues, decolonial literature, speculative fiction, and American studies.

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A Love Letter to This Bridge Called My Back
Edited by gloria j. wilson, Joni B. Acuff, and Amelia M. Kraehe
University of Arizona Press, 2022
In 1981, Chicana feminist intellectuals Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa published what would become a touchstone work for generations of feminist women of color—the seminal This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. To celebrate and honor this important work, editors gloria j. wilson, Joni B. Acuff, and Amelia M. Kraehe offer new generations A Love Letter to This Bridge Called My Back.

In A Love Letter, creators illuminate, question, and respond to current politics, progressive struggles, transformations, acts of resistance, and solidarity, while also offering readers a space for renewal and healing. The central theme of the original Bridge is honored, exposing the lived realities of women of color at the intersections of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, advancing those early conversations on what it means to be Third World feminist conscious.

A Love Letter recognizes the challenges faced by women of color in a twenty-first-century world of climate and economic crises, increasing gun violence, and ever-changing social media constructs for women of color. It also retains the clarion call Bridge set in motion, as Moraga wrote: “A theory in the flesh means one where the physical realities of our lives—our skin color, the land or concrete we grew up on, our sexual longing—all fuse to create a politic born of necessity.”
 
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Mongrel Nation
Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain
Ashley Dawson
University of Michigan Press, 2007

Mongrel Nation surveys the history of the United Kingdom’s African, Asian, and Caribbean populations from 1948 to the present, working at the juncture of cultural studies, literary criticism, and postcolonial theory. Ashley Dawson argues that during the past fifty years Asian and black intellectuals from Sam Selvon to Zadie Smith have continually challenged the United Kingdom’s exclusionary definitions of citizenship, using innovative forms of cultural expression to reconfigure definitions of belonging in the postcolonial age. By examining popular culture and exploring topics such as the nexus of race and gender, the growth of transnational politics, and the clash between first- and second-generation immigrants, Dawson broadens and enlivens the field of postcolonial studies.

Mongrel Nation gives readers a broad landscape from which to view the shifting currents of politics, literature, and culture in postcolonial Britain. At a time when the contradictions of expansionist braggadocio again dominate the world stage, Mongrel Nation usefully illuminates the legacy of imperialism and suggests that creative voices of resistance can never be silenced.Dawson

“Elegant, eloquent, and full of imaginative insight, Mongrel Nation is a refreshing, engaged, and informative addition to post-colonial and diasporic literary scholarship.”

—Hazel V. Carby, Yale University

“Eloquent and strong, insightful and historically precise, lively and engaging, Mongrel Nation is an expansive history of twentieth-century internationalist encounters that provides a broader landscape from which to understand currents, shifts, and historical junctures that shaped the international postcolonial imagination.”

—May Joseph, Pratt Institute

Ashley Dawson is Associate Professor of English at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island. He is coeditor of the forthcoming Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism.

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New Visions of Community in Contemporary American Fiction
Tan, Kingsolver, Castillo, Morrison
Magali Cornier Michael
University of Iowa Press, 2006
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.
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Novel Subjects
Authorship as Radical Self-Care in Multiethnic American Narratives
Leah A. Milne
University of Iowa Press, 2021
How does contemporary literature contend with the power and responsibility of authorship, particularly when considering marginalized groups? How have the works of multiethnic authors challenged the notion that writing and authorship are neutral or universal?

In Novel Subjects, Leah Milne offers a new way to look at multicultural literature by focusing on scenes of writing in contemporary works by authors with marginalized identities. These scenes, she argues, establish authorship as a form of radical self-care—a term we owe to Audre Lorde, who defines self-care as self-preservation and “an act of political warfare.”

In engaging in this battle, the works discussed in this study confront limitations on ethnicity and nationality wrought by the institutionalization of multiculturalism. They also focus on identities whose mere presence on the cultural landscape is often perceived as vindictive or willful. Analyzing recent texts by Carmen Maria Machado, Louise Erdrich, Ruth Ozeki, Toni Morrison, and more, Milne connects works across cultures and nationalities in search of reasons for this recent trend of depicting writers as characters in multicultural texts. Her exploration uncovers fiction that embrace unacceptable or marginalized modes of storytelling—such as plagiarism, historical revisions, jokes, and lies—as well as inauthentic, invisible, and unexceptional subjects. These works ultimately reveal a shared goal of expanding the borders of belonging in ethnic and cultural groups, and thus add to the ever-evolving conversations surrounding both multicultural literature and self-care.
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Other Sisterhoods
LITERARY THEORY AND U.S. WOMEN OF COLOR
Edited by Sandra Kumamoto Stanley
University of Illinois Press, 1998
      Where are the women writers of color? Where are their theoretical voices?
        The fifteen contributors to Other Sisterhoods: Literary Theory and
        U.S. Women of Color examine the ways that women writers of color have
        contributed to the discourse of literary and cultural theory. They focus
        on the impact of key issues, such as social construction and identity
        politics, on the works of women writers of color, as well as on the ways
        these women deal with differences relating to gender, class, race/ethnicity,
        and sexuality. The book also explores the ways women writers of color
        have created their own ethnopoetics within the arena of literary and cultural
        theory, helping to redefine the nature of theory itself.
      "A sophisticated resource that will do much to carry us through
        to the next century. Great work!" -- Alvina E. Quintana, author of
        Home Girls: Chicana Literary Voices
      CONTRIBUTORS:Sandra Kumamoto Stanley, AnaLouise Keating, Dionne
        Espinoza, Kimberly N. Brown, Marilyn Edelstein, Tomo Hattori, Robin Riley
        Fast, King-Kok Cheung, Timothy Libretti, Renae Moore Bredin, Jennifer
        Browdy de Hernandez, Kimberly M. Blaeser, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Eun Kyung
        Min, Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes
 
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Pivotal Voices, Era of Transition
Toward a 21st Century Poetics
Rigoberto González
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Pivotal Voices, Era of Transition gathers Rigoberto González’s most important essays and book reviews, many of which consider the work of emerging poets whose identities and political positions are transforming what readers expect from contemporary poetry. A number of these voices represent intersectional communities, such as queer writers of color like Natalie Díaz, Danez Smith, Ocean Vuong, and Eduardo C. Corral, and many writers, such as Carmen Giménez Smith and David Tomás Martínez, have deep connections to their Latino communities. Collectively, these writers are enriching American poetry to reflect a more diverse, panoramic, and socially conscious literary landscape. Also featured are essays on the poets’ literary ancestors—including Juan Felipe Herrera, Alurista, and Francisco X. Alarcón—and speeches that address the need to leverage poetry as agency.

This book fills a glaring gap in existing poetry scholarship by focusing exclusively on writers of color, and particularly on Latino poetry. González makes important observations about the relevance, urgency, and exquisite craft of the work coming from writers who represent marginalized communities. His insightful connections between the Latino, African American, Asian American, and Native American literatures persuasively position them as a collective movement critiquing, challenging, and reorienting the direction of American poetry with their nuanced and politicized verse. González’s inclusive vision covers a wide landscape of writers, opening literary doors for sexual and ethnic minorities.


 
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Poetic Operations
Trans of Color Art in Digital Media
micha cárdenas
Duke University Press, 2021
In Poetic Operations artist and theorist micha cárdenas considers contemporary digital media, artwork, and poetry in order to articulate trans of color strategies for safety and survival. Drawing on decolonial theory, women of color feminism, media theory, and queer of color critique, cárdenas develops a method she calls algorithmic analysis. Understanding algorithms as sets of instructions designed to perform specific tasks (like a recipe), she breaks them into their component parts, called operations. By focusing on these operations, cárdenas identifies how trans and gender-non-conforming artists, especially artists of color, rewrite algorithms to counter violence and develop strategies for liberation. In her analyses of Giuseppe Campuzano's holographic art, Esdras Parra's and Kai Cheng Thom's poetry, Mattie Brice's digital games, Janelle Monáe's music videos, and her own artistic practice, cárdenas shows how algorithmic analysis provides new modes of understanding the complex processes of identity and oppression and the intersection of gender, sexuality, and race.
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The Politics of Privacy in Contemporary Native, Latinx, and Asian American Metafictions
Colleen Eils
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
The Politics of Privacy in Contemporary Native, Latinx, and Asian American Metafictions is the first book-length study to approach contemporary issues of racialized visibility and privacy through narrative form. Using a formal maneuver, narrative privacy, Colleen G. Eils analyzes how writers of contemporary metafictions explicitly withhold stories from readers to illuminate and theorize the politics of privacy in a post–9/11 US context. As a formal device and reading strategy, narrative privacy has two primary critical interests: affirming the historically political nature of visibility, particularly for people of color and indigenous people, and theorizing privacy as a political assertion of power over representation and material vulnerability.
 
Eils breaks strict disciplinary silos by putting visibility/surveillance studies, ethnic studies, and narrative studies in conversation with one another. Eils also puts texts in the Native, Latinx, and Asian American literary canon in conversation with each other. She focuses on texts by Viet Thanh Nguyen, David Treuer, Monique Truong, Rigoberto González, Nam Le, and Stephen Graham Jones that call into question our positions as readers and critics. In deliberately and self-consciously evading readers through the form of their fiction, these writers seize privacy as a political tool for claiming and wielding power in both representational and material registers.
 
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Postliterary America
From Bagel Shop Jazz to Micropoetries
Maria Damon
University of Iowa Press, 2011
In this capacious and challenging book, Maria Damon surveys the poetry and culture of the United States in two distinct but inextricably linked periods. In part 1, “Identity K/not/e/s,” she considers the America of the 1950s and early 1960s, when contentious and troubled alliances took shape between different marginalized communities and their respective but overlapping bohemias—Jews, African Americans, the Beats, and gays and lesbians. Using a rich trove of texts and artifacts—ranging from Gertrude Stein’s writings about her own Jewishness to transcripts from Lenny Bruce’s obscenity trial, Bob Kaufman’s Beat poetry—as well as her own stake in the material, Damon plumbs the complexities of social identity and expressive cultures to fascinating effect.
      Always erudite but never effete, Damon then turns to more contemporary issues and broader topics of poetics: micropoetries, cyberpoetics, spoken-word poets, performance poets, and their communities. Echoing many of the themes of the first section of the book, including poetic identity and the troubled nature of the poetic “I,” part 2’s “Poetics for a Postliterary America” goes on to paint a wider picture, dwelling less on close readings of individual poems and more on asking questions about the nature of poetry itself and its role in community formation and individual survival. Discussions of counterperformance, kinetics, the Nuyoricans, Latino identity, and electronic poetics enliven this section.
      Never reluctant to acknowledge the deeply personal origins of the work at hand, Damon cleaves to the subject matter, be it questions of identity, matters of poetry, or what it means to live in a postliterary culture. In doing so, she dares to ask what it means to be a member of the “shadow people”—those who occupy marginalized, nocturnal counterculture—creating verbal art.
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Proceed with Caution, When Engaged by Minority Writing in the Americas
Doris Sommer
Harvard University Press, 1999

Let the reader beware. Educated readers naturally feel entitled to know what they're reading--often, if they try hard enough, to know it with the conspiratorial intimacy of a potential partner. This book reminds us that cultural differences may in fact make us targets of a text, not its co-conspirators. Some literature, especially culturally particular or "minority" literature, actually uses its differences and distances to redirect our desire for intimacy toward more cautious, respectful engagements. To name these figures of cultural discontinuity--to describe a rhetoric of particularism in the Americas--is the purpose of Proceed with Caution.

In a series of daring forays, from seventeenth-century Inca Garcilaso de la Vega to Julio Cortázar and Mario Vargas Llosa, Doris Sommer shows how ethnically marked texts use enticing and frustrating language games to keep readers engaged with difference: Gloria Estefan's syncopated appeal to solidarity plays on Whitman's undifferentiated ideal; unrequitable seductions echo through Rigoberta Menchú's protestations of secrecy, Toni Morrison's interrupted confession, the rebuffs in a Mexican testimonial novel. In these and other examples, Sommer trains us to notice the signs that affirm a respectful distance as a condition of political fairness and aesthetic effect--warnings that will be audible (and engaging for readings that tolerate difference) once we listen for a rhetoric of particularism.

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Race in the Multiethnic Literature Classroom
Edited by Cristina Stanciu and Gary Totten
University of Illinois Press, 2024

The contemporary rethinking and relearning of history and racism has sparked creative approaches for teaching the histories and representations of marginalized communities. Cristina Stanciu and Gary Totten edit a collection that illuminates these ideas for a variety of fields, areas of education, and institutional contexts.

The authors draw on their own racial and ethnic backgrounds to examine race and racism in the context of addressing necessary and often difficult classroom conversations about race, histories of exclusion, and racism. Case studies, reflections, and personal experiences provide guidance for addressing race and racism in the classroom. In-depth analysis looks at attacks on teaching Critical Race Theory and other practices for studying marginalized histories and voices. Throughout, the contributors shine a light on how a critical framework focused on race advances an understanding of contemporary and historical US multiethnic literatures for students around the world and in all fields of study.

Contributors: Kristen Brown, Nancy Carranza, Luis Cortes, Marilyn Edelstein, Naomi Edwards, Joanne Lipson Freed, Yadira Gamez, Lauren J. Gantz, Jennifer Ho, Shermaine M. Jones, Norell Martinez, Sarah Minslow, Crystal R. Pérez, Kevin Pyon, Emily Ruth Rutter, Ariel Santos, and C. Anneke Snyder

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Refiguring Race and Risk
Counternarratives of Care in the US Security State
Roberta Wolfson
The Ohio State University Press, 2024
In Refiguring Race and Risk, Roberta Wolfson turns to novels, memoirs, and other cultural works to debunk the false sense of national security rooted in positioning people of color as embodiments of risk. Considering output by Miné Okubo, Sanyika Shakur, Abraham Verghese, Khaled Hosseini, Helena María Viramontes, and others, Wolfson demonstrates how these authors disrupt racist security regimes and model alternative strategies for managing risk by crafting stories of collective care and community building. Chapters discuss, among other examples, how gang members defy the mass incarceration of Black and Latinx Americans by committing to self-education and self-advocacy; how an Asian immigrant doctor offers a corrective to the pandemic-era trend of allowing xenophobia to inform public health decisions by providing human-centered medical services to HIV-positive patients; and how Latinx migrant farmworkers battle ongoing precarity amid the increasing militarization of the US-Mexico border by bartering life-sustaining resources. In revealing how these works cultivate love as a mode of political resistance, Wolfson relabels people of color not as a source of risk but as critical actors in the push to improve national security.
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Rewriting White
Race, Class, and Cultural Capital in Nineteenth-Century America
Todd Vogel
Rutgers University Press, 2004

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.

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The Romance of Race
Incest, Miscegenation, and Multiculturalism in the United States, 1880-1930
Sheffer, Jolie A.
Rutgers University Press, 2013

In the United States miscegenation is not merely a subject of literature and popular culture. It is in many ways the foundation of contemporary imaginary community. The Romance of Race examines the role of minority women writers and reformers in the creation of our modern American multiculturalism.

The national identity of the United States was transformed between 1880 and 1930 due to mass immigration, imperial expansion, the rise of Jim Crow, and the beginning of the suffrage movement. A generation of women writers and reformers—particularly women of color—contributed to these debates by imagining new national narratives that put minorities at the center of American identity. Jane Addams, Pauline Hopkins, Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton), María Cristina Mena, and Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) embraced the images of the United States—and increasingly the world—as an interracial nuclear family. They also reframed public debates through narratives depicting interracial encounters as longstanding, unacknowledged liaisons between white men and racialized women that produced an incestuous, mixed-race nation.

By mobilizing the sexual taboos of incest and miscegenation, these women writers created political allegories of kinship and community. Through their criticisms of the nation’s history of exploitation and colonization, they also imagined a more inclusive future. As Jolie A. Sheffer identifies the contemporary template for American multiculturalism in the works of turn-of-the century minority writers, she uncovers a much more radical history than has previously been considered.

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Shakin' Up Race and Gender
Intercultural Connections in Puerto Rican, African American, and Chicano Narratives and Culture (1965–1995)
By Marta E. Sánchez
University of Texas Press, 2006

The second phase of the civil rights movement (1965-1973) was a pivotal period in the development of ethnic groups in the United States. In the years since then, new generations have asked new questions to cast light on this watershed era. No longer is it productive to consider only the differences between ethnic groups; we must also study them in relation to one another and to U.S. mainstream society.

In "Shakin' Up" Race and Gender, Marta E. Sánchez creates an intercultural frame to study the historical and cultural connections among Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and Chicanos/as since the 1960s. Her frame opens up the black/white binary that dominated the 1960s and 1970s. It reveals the hidden yet real ties that connected ethnics of color and "white" ethnics in a shared intercultural history. By using key literary works published during this time, Sánchez reassesses and refutes the unflattering portrayals of ethnics by three leading intellectuals (Octavio Paz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Oscar Lewis) who wrote about Chicanos, African Americans, and Puerto Ricans. She links their implicit misogyny to the trope of La Malinche from Chicano culture and shows how specific characteristics of this trope—enslavement, alleged betrayal, and cultural negotiation—are also present in African American and Puerto Rican cultures. Sánchez employs the trope to restore the agency denied to these groups. Intercultural contact—encounters between peoples of distinct ethnic groups—is the theme of this book.

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To Be Suddenly White
Literary Realism and Racial Passing
Steven J. Belluscio
University of Missouri Press, 2006
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.
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Transcending the New Woman
Multiethnic Narratives in the Progressive Era
Charlotte J. Rich
University of Missouri Press, 2009
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.

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The Trouble with Sauling Around
Conversion in Ethnic American Autobiography, 1965-2002
Madeline R. Walker
University of Iowa Press, 2011
Examining autobiographical texts by Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X), Oscar Zeta Acosta (The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and Revolt of the Cockroach People), Amiri Baraka (The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones), and Richard Rodriguez  (Hunger of Memory, Days of Obligation, and Brown), Walker questions the often rosy views and simplistic binary conceptions of religious conversion. Her reading of these texts takes into account the conflict and serial changes the authors experience in a society that marginalizes them, the manner in which religious conversion offers ethnic Americans “salvation” through cultural assimilation or cultural nationalism, and what conversion, anticonversion, and deconversion narratives tell us about the problematic effects of religion that often go unremarked because of a code of “special respect” and political correctness.
 
Walker asserts that critics have been too willing to praise religion in America as salutary or beyond the ken of criticism because religious belief is seen as belonging to an untouchable arena of cultural identity. The Trouble with Sauling Around goes beyond traditional literary criticism to pay close attention to the social phenomena that underlie religious conversion narratives and considers the potentially negative effects of religious conversion, something that has been likewise neglected by scholars.
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Unbecoming Americans
Writing Race and Nation from the Shadows of Citizenship, 1945-1960
Keith, Joseph
Rutgers University Press, 2013

During the Cold War, Ellis Island no longer served as the largest port of entry for immigrants, but as a prison for holding aliens the state wished to deport. The government criminalized those it considered un-assimilable (from left-wing intellectuals and black radicals to racialized migrant laborers) through the denial, annulment, and curtailment of citizenship and its rights. The island, ceasing to represent the iconic ideal of immigrant America, came to symbolize its very limits.

Unbecoming Americans sets out to recover the shadow narratives of un-American writers forged out of the racial and political limits of citizenship. In this collection of Afro-Caribbean, Filipino, and African American writers—C.L.R. James, Carlos Bulosan, Claudia Jones, and Richard Wright—Joseph Keith examines how they used their exclusion from the nation, a condition he terms “alienage,” as a standpoint from which to imagine alternative global solidarities and to interrogate the contradictions of the United States as a country, a republic, and an empire at the dawn of the "American Century.”

Building on scholarship linking the forms of the novel to those of the nation, the book explores how these writers employed alternative aesthetic forms, including memoir, cultural criticism, and travel narrative, to contest prevailing notions of race, nation, and citizenship. Ultimately they produced a vital counter-discourse of freedom in opposition to the new formations of empire emerging in the years after World War II, forms that continue to shape our world today.

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A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction
By Frederick Luis Aldama
University of Texas Press, 2009

Why are so many people attracted to narrative fiction? How do authors in this genre reframe experiences, people, and environments anchored to the real world without duplicating "real life"? In which ways does fiction differ from reality? What might fictional narrative and reality have in common—if anything?

By analyzing novels such as Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace, Zadie Smith's White Teeth, and Hari Kunzru's The Impressionist, along with selected Latino comic books and short fiction, this book explores the peculiarities of the production and reception of postcolonial and Latino borderland fiction. Frederick Luis Aldama uses tools from disciplines such as film studies and cognitive science that allow the reader to establish how a fictional narrative is built, how it functions, and how it defines the boundaries of concepts that appear susceptible to limitless interpretations.

Aldama emphasizes how postcolonial and Latino borderland narrative fiction authors and artists use narrative devices to create their aesthetic blueprints in ways that loosely guide their readers' imagination and emotion. In A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction, he argues that the study of ethnic-identified narrative fiction must acknowledge its active engagement with world narrative fictional genres, storytelling modes, and techniques, as well as the way such fictions work to move their audiences.

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The Uses of Variety
Modern Americanism and the Quest for National Distinctiveness
Carrie Tirado Bramen
Harvard University Press, 2000

The turn of the last century, amid the excesses of the Gilded Age, variety became a key notion for Americans—a sign of national progress and development, reassurance that the modern nation would not fall into monotonous dullness or disorderly chaos. Carrie Tirado Bramen pursues this idea through the works of a wide range of regional and cosmopolitan writers, journalists, theologians, and politicians who rewrote the narrative of American exceptionalism through a celebration of variety. Exploring cultural and institutional spheres ranging from intra-urban walking tours in popular magazines to the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago, she shows how the rhetoric of variety became naturalized and nationalized as quintessentially American and inherently democratic. By focusing on the uses of the term in the work of William James, Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, Hamlin Garland, and Wong Chin Foo, among many others, Bramen reveals how the perceived innocence and goodness of variety were used to construct contradictory and mutually exclusive visions of modern Americanism.

Bramen's innovation is to look at the debates of a century ago that established diversity as the distinctive feature of U.S. culture. In the late-nineteenth-century conception, which emphasized the openness of variety while at the same time acknowledging its limits, she finds a useful corrective to the contemporary tendency to celebrate the United States as a postmodern melange or a carnivalesque utopia of hybridity and difference.

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Visions and Divisions
American Immigration Literature, 1870-1930
Prchal, Timothy
Rutgers University Press, 2008
For many years, America cherished its image as a Golden Door for the world’s oppressed. But during the Progressive Era, mounting racial hostility along with new national legislation that imposed strict restrictions on immigration began to show the nation in a different light. The literature of this period reflects the controversy and uncertainty that abounded regarding the meaning of “American.” Literary output participated in debates about restriction, assimilation, and whether the idea of the “Melting Pot” was worth preserving. Writers advocated—and also challenged—what emerged as a radical new way of understanding the nation’s ethnic and racial identity: cultural pluralism.

From these debates came such novels as Willa Cather’s My Ántonia and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Henry James, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Carl Sandburg added to the diversity of viewpoints of native born Americans while equally divergent immigrant perspectives were represented by writers such as Anzia Yezierska, Kahlil Gibran, and Claude McKay. This anthology presents the writing of these authors, among others less well known, to show the many ways literature participated in shaping the face of immigration. The volume also includes an introduction, annotations, a timeline, and historical documents that contextualize the literature.
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West of the Border
The Multicultural Literature of the Western American Frontiers
Noreen Groover Lape
Ohio University Press, 2000

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.

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Women of Color
Mother-Daughter Relationships in 20th-Century Literature
Edited by Elizabeth Brown-Guillory
University of Texas Press, 1996

Interest in the mother-daughter relationship has never been greater, yet there are few books specifically devoted to the relationships between daughters and mothers of color. To fill that gap, this collection of original essays explores the mother-daughter relationship as it appears in the works of African, African American, Asian American, Mexican American, Native American, Indian, and Australian Aboriginal women writers.

Prominent among the writers considered here are Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, Cherrie Moraga, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Amy Tan. Elizabeth Brown-Guillory and the other essayists examine the myths and reality surrounding the mother-daughter relationship in these writers' works. They show how women writers of color often portray the mother-daughter dyad as a love/hate relationship, in which the mother painstakingly tries to convey knowledge of how to survive in a racist, sexist, and classist world while the daughter rejects her mother's experiences as invalid in changing social times.

This book represents a further opening of the literary canon to twentieth-century women of color. Like the writings it surveys, it celebrates the joys of breaking silence and moving toward reconciliation and growth.

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Writing across the Color Line
U.S. Print Culture and the Rise of Ethnic Literature, 1877-1920
Lucas A. Dietrich
University of Massachusetts Press, 2020
The turn of the twentieth century was a period of experimental possibility for U.S. ethnic literature as a number of writers of color began to collaborate with the predominantly white publishing trade to make their work commercially available. In this new book, Lucas A. Dietrich analyzes publishers' and writers' archives to show how authors—including María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Charles W. Chesnutt, Finley Peter Dunne, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Sui Sin Far—drew readers into their texts by subverting existing stereotypes and adapting styles of literary regionalism and dialect writing.

Writing across the Color Line details how this body of literature was selected for publication, edited, manufactured, advertised, and distributed, even as it faced hostile criticism and frequent misinterpretation by white readers. Shedding light on the transformative potential of multiethnic literature and the tenacity of racist attitudes that dominated the literary marketplace, Dietrich proves that Native American, African American, Latinx, Asian American, and Irish American writers of the period relied on self-caricature, tricksterism, and the careful control of authorial personae to influence white audiences.
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Writing America
Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee (A Reader's Companion)
Fishkin, Shelley Fisher
Rutgers University Press, 2015
Winner of the John S. Tuckey 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award for Mark Twain Scholarship from The Center for Mark Twain Studies

American novelist E.L. Doctorow once observed that literature “endows places with meaning.” Yet, as this wide-ranging new book vividly illustrates, understanding the places that shaped American writers’ lives and their art can provide deep insight into what makes their literature truly meaningful.
 
Published on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Historic Preservation Act, Writing America is a unique, passionate, and eclectic series of meditations on literature and history, covering over 150 important National Register historic sites, all pivotal to the stories that make up America, from chapels to battlefields; from plantations to immigration stations; and from theaters to internment camps. The book considers not only the traditional sites for literary tourism, such as Mark Twain’s sumptuous Connecticut home and the peaceful woods surrounding Walden Pond, but also locations that highlight the diversity of American literature, from the New York tenements that spawned Abraham Cahan’s fiction to the Texas pump house that irrigated the fields in which the farm workers central to Gloria Anzaldúa’s poetry picked produce. Rather than just providing a cursory overview of these authors’ achievements, acclaimed literary scholar and cultural historian Shelley Fisher Fishkin offers a deep and personal reflection on how key sites bore witness to the struggles of American writers and inspired their dreams. She probes the global impact of American writers’ innovative art and also examines the distinctive contributions to American culture by American writers who wrote in languages other than English, including Yiddish, Chinese, and Spanish.   
 
Only a scholar with as wide-ranging interests as Shelley Fisher Fishkin would dare to bring together in one book writers as diverse as Gloria Anzaldúa, Nicholas Black Elk, David Bradley, Abraham Cahan, S. Alice Callahan, Raymond Chandler, Frank Chin, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Countee Cullen, Frederick Douglass, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jessie Fauset, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Jovita González, Rolando Hinojosa, Langston Hughes,  Zora Neale Hurston, Lawson Fusao Inada,  James Weldon Johnson,  Erica Jong, Maxine Hong Kingston, Irena Klepfisz, Nella Larsen, Emma Lazarus, Sinclair Lewis, Genny Lim, Claude McKay, Herman Melville, N. Scott Momaday, William Northup, John Okada, Miné Okubo, Simon Ortiz, Américo Paredes, John P. Parker, Ann Petry, Tomás Rivera, Wendy Rose, Morris Rosenfeld, John Steinbeck, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Yoshiko Uchida, Tino Villanueva, Nathanael West, Walt Whitman, Richard Wright, Hisaye Yamamoto, Anzia Yezierska, and Zitkala-Ša.
 
Leading readers on an enticing journey across the borders of physical places and imaginative terrains, the book includes over 60 images, and extended excerpts from a variety of literary works. Each chapter ends with resources for further exploration. Writing America reveals the alchemy though which American writers have transformed the world around them into art, changing their world and ours in the process.
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Writing Human Rights
The Political Imaginaries of Writers of Color
Crystal Parikh
University of Minnesota Press, 2017

The legal texts and aspirational ideals of human rights are usually understood and applied in a global context with little bearing on the legal discourse, domestic political struggles, or social justice concerns within the United States. In Writing Human Rights, Crystal Parikh uses the international human rights regime to read works by contemporary American writers of color—Toni Morrison, Chang-rae Lee, Ana Castillo, Aimee Phan, and others—to explore the conditions under which new norms, more capacious formulations of rights, and alternative kinds of political communities emerge.

Parikh contends that unlike humanitarianism, which views its objects as victims, human rights provide avenues for the creation of political subjects. Pairing the ethical deliberations in such works as Beloved and A Gesture Life with human rights texts like the United Nations Convention Against Torture, she considers why principles articulated as rights in international conventions and treaties—such as the right to self-determination or the right to family—are too often disregarded at home. Human rights concepts instead provide writers of color with a deeply meaningful method for political and moral imagining in their literature.

Affiliating transnational works of American literature with decolonization, socialist, and other political struggles in the global south, this book illuminates a human rights critique of idealized American rights and freedoms that have been globalized in the twenty-first century. In the absence of domestic human rights enforcement, these literatures provide a considerable repository for those ways of life and subjects of rights made otherwise impossible in the present antidemocratic moment.

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