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Racial Innocence

Performing Childhood and Race from Slavery to Civil Rights

Robin Bernstein, 0, 0

Publication Year: 2011

Published by: NYU Press


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p. v

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p. vii

I wrote most of this book at Harvard University while I was an assistant professor in three extraordinary interdisciplinary programs: Women, Gender, and Sexuality; History and Literature; and the History of American Civilization. Just when the book went into production, I was honored to join the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard. I gratefully...

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Introduction Playing Innocent: Childhood, Race, Performance

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pp. 1-29

In October 2009, Keith Bardwell, the justice of the peace in Louisiana’s Tangipahoa Parish, refused to perform a wedding ceremony for Beth Humphrey, who is white, and Terence McKay, who is African American. “I don’t do interracial marriages,” Bardwell explained, “because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves.” 1 Bardwell, a white...

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1 Tender Angels, Insensate Pickaninnies: The Divergent Paths of Racial Innocence

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pp. 30-68

In an advertising trade card from the 1890s, an African American girl smiles as she cuddles an armful of cotton (figure 1.1 and plate 1).1 She advertises Cottolene, a lard substitute made out of cottonseed oil and animal fat.2 The girl is well dressed and also well fed, as her chubby face and limbs attest. A yellow flower...

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2 Scriptive Things

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pp. 69-91

In about 1855, more than three decades before Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote the best-selling children’s book Little Lord Fauntleroy, she was a child—Frances Eliza Hodgson—and she read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She found Stowe’s novel, like all the stories she encountered, to be “imperfect...

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3 Everyone Is Impressed: Slavery as a Tender Embrace from Uncle Tom’s to Uncle Remus’s Cabin

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pp. 92-145

To the modern nose, much nineteenth-century literature might seem to stink of pedophilia. Uncle Tom spies Little Eva on the steamboat and “cut[s] cunning little baskets out of cherry-stones” to “attract” the child. Little Eva is initially “shy,” and Tom finds it “not easy to tame her.” But the girl “bashful[ly]” accepts Tom’s gifts, and soon the two get “on quite confidential terms...

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4 The Black-and-Whiteness of Raggedy Ann

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pp. 146-193

In September of 1915, a young commercial artist named Johnny Gruelle seemed headed for a sustained if undistinguished career as a cartoonist and illustrator. The son of Richard Buckner Gruelle, a member of the Hoosier Group of impressionist painters, Johnny Gruelle had contributed incidental cartoons to the...

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5 The Scripts of Black Dolls

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pp. 194-244

In 1985, at the age of 102, Daisy Turner recalled an incident from her childhood in which she transformed a black doll from a tool of coercion into one of resistance. Turner, an African American woman, was born in Vermont, where she lived for most of her life. In about 1891, when Turner was about eight years old, a teacher in her predominantly white elementary school concocted a...


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pp. 245-294


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pp. 295-307

About the Author

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p. 308

Color plates

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814787090
E-ISBN-10: 0814787096
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814787076
Print-ISBN-10: 081478707X

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 756634886
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Racial Innocence

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Subject Headings

  • Children in literature.
  • Racism in literature.
  • Slavery -- United States -- History.
  • United States -- Civilization.
  • United States -- Race relations.
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