'The Word in Black and White'

'The Word in Black and White' : Reading `Race' in American Literature, 1638-1867

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Dana Nelson provides a study of the ways in which Anglo-American authors constructed "race" in their works from the time of the first British colonists through the period of the Civil War. She focuses on some eleven texts, ranging from widely-known to little-considered, that deal with the relations among Native, African, and Anglo-Americans, and places her readings in the historical, social, and material contexts of an evolving U.S. colonialism and internal imperialism. Nelson shows how a novel such as The Last of the Mohicans sought to reify the Anglo historical past and simultaneously suggested strategies that would serve Anglo-Americans against Native Americans as the frontier pushed farther west. Concluding her work with a reading of Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Nelson shows how that text undercuts the racist structures of the pre-Civil War period by positing a revised model of sympathy that authorizes alternative cultural perspectives and requires Anglo-Americans to question their own involvement with racism.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 206 pages
  • 152.4 x 229.1 x 13.5mm | 349.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195089278
  • 9780195089271

Review quote

This is a bold and valuable work that deserves the attention of anyone interested in American literature....Nelson's own voice is an important one in American literature and her words deserve serious attention. * Journal of English and Germanic Philology * Very interesting and important new look at some old problems in the literary canon and its effects. * Eileen Oliver, Washington State University * Nelson's well-written book exemplifies the effective use of literary theory. Her analyses of how seemingly opposed statements can support a shared agenda, or of how a single text can simultaneously critique and support a colonialist agenda should become touchstones for future discussions of race in American literature....Nelson's analysis is consistently enlightening and provocative....There is no better book on her subject. * Journal of the Early Republic * Timely....An exemplary work of cultural history and literary criticism....A sophisticated authoritative book valuable to specialists and advanced students. * Choice * A thoughtful, well-researched, and provocative study....Serves admirably as a primer for reading constructions of race in a variety of primary texts across a significant range of genres in early American literary and cultural history. * William and Mary Quarterly *show more

About Dana D. Nelson

Dana D. Nelson is Associate Professor of English at Louisiana State University. She is the editor of the Oxford edition of Rebecca Rush's Kelroy.show more

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