New PDF release: African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the

By A. Kent

ISBN-10: 0230605109

ISBN-13: 9780230605107

ISBN-10: 1349538000

ISBN-13: 9781349538003

ISBN-10: 1403977976

ISBN-13: 9781403977977

This ebook examines literature by means of African, local, and Jewish American novelists initially of the 20 th century, a interval of radical dislocation from homelands for those 3 ethnic teams in addition to the interval whilst such voices demonstrated themselves as crucial figures within the American literary canon.

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Extra info for African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the Reshaping of Modernism

Sample text

More often, in real life, they do not change their natures until they are converted into dust” (304). Ironically in this work of fiction, the violent Euro-American leader is not “converted” and dies trying to defend his white supremacist views. In Marrow, fiction enabled Chesnutt to critique American society at its core and to show that racial difference was a “social fiction” (“Future American” 861), a central argument he makes on the thematic as well as on the formal levels. Chesnutt’s novel challenges cultural doctrines of racial purity and “ethnic absolutism” (Gilroy 2)—notions upon which white supremacists depended during the post-Reconstruction period to justify legalized segregation and racial violence.

Some see Chesnutt’s turn to romance as a nostalgic glance to pre-realist writing or as an “inconsistency in his canon” (McElrath, “Why” 98). Chesnutt’s use of seemingly antedated literary conventions, however, allows him to deconstruct the color line in a markedly modern hybrid of romance and realism. By emphasizing similarity, he shows that cultural interaction across the color line has had an equally long history as legal and geographic divisions have had. Chesnutt creates African American characters whose behavior mirrors Euro-American doubles and vice versa.

While Mourning Dove’s and McNickle’s protagonists ultimately resist incorporation into American society even as they adapt to the modern, Chesnutt’s and Cahan’s protagonists still strive for, even if they do not fully attain, such inclusion. Hurston’s and Yezierska’s protagonists offer a third response, an attempt to mix the old with the new; Sara Smolinsky in Bread Givers acknowledges she must blend Jewish and American cultures while Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God brings the cosmopolitan to the rural.

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African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the Reshaping of Modernism by A. Kent


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