Continental Divides: Revisioning American Literature by A. Goldman

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By A. Goldman

The ebook demands a brand new iconography of area that unseats New England's prestige as cultural heart of the us and originary metaphor for nationwide id. No unmarried territorial or political axis can properly describe the complicated nearby relationships that include the kingdom, Goldman argues. The essays during this quantity juxtapose African-American, Mexican-American, and Anglo American fictions produced within the wake of either the Civil conflict and the U.S.-Mexican battle, contiguous nationwide conflicts that stay segregated in serious perform. straight away comparative and intertextual, the readings during this research redefine western literature in its relation to different U.S. local literary formations. Goldman's arguments query severe sectionalism as broadly as they do local divisions, through blurring widely used differences, by way of analyzing throughout literary classes, and by way of juxtaposing writers who discover an identical set of social matters through the related ancient second, yet who're conventionally situated in separate literary traditions: sentimental literature, the African American novel, literary modernism, early Mexican fiction.

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S. imperialism during the war against Mexico—recall that in New England this conflict was, if not roundly condemned, at least partially contested—her insistence that readers acknowledge the relationship between this conflict and the Civil War opens a space for comparing, and so reevaluating, a wide range of nationalist discourses. Lazy military men like Beau Cackle, who use the sectional turmoil that follows in the wake of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo to line their pockets and to further their political careers, do a lot of cultural work in this novel, because they allow Ruiz de Burton to move beyond the indictment of discrete actions to expose systemic flaws in the federal government.

The racial merging in this passage is all the more striking for the break in tone it reveals; in place of the sustained irony that characterizes the novel as a whole, readers are treated to a discomfited sentimental prose whose shaky control reflects the misgivings of the expatriate who will comment nervously upon the black and Jewish presence in The American Scene. Like the parody of sentimentality in minstrel theater, a spectacle that Eric Lott argues “glossed not white encounters with life on the plantation .

In the hands of some writers, translating “blackness” to the Irish workers would destabilize it as a racial signifier, but Ruiz’s exploitation of blackness, like James’s play on “African” speech in The Bostonians, does not liberate it from racist hierarchies. Instead, the physical begriming of the servants in Who Would Have Thought It? mirrors their comportment. The brogue of the “sensitive Irish ladies” (31) is audible in the novel, as is their distaste for the girl they think is black. Their lack of hospitality toward Lola resonates with their lowly social station, which Ruiz naturalizes through metaphors that play upon color.

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