Architecture, Race, and American Literature
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Cover, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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Like my first book this one has been a long time in the mak- ing and has benefited from innumerable gestures of support, assistance, and encouragement. Special thanks must go again to Martha Banta, for showing me what it means to read and think and write with breadth and imagination and care; and to Eric Sundquist for (in this case) introducing me...
Introduction: Race, Writing, Architecture: American Patterns
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The idea for this book emerged from a deceptively simple question: Why are there so many porches in the conjure tales of Charles Chesnutt? Although Chesnutt’s conjure stories center on often-fantastic transformations within a reimagined slave South, the contemporary frame settings of his late nineteenth-century tales can seem repetitious at best, almost always...
1. Cottage Desire: The Bondwoman’s Narrative and the Politics of Antebellum Space
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Near the end of Hannah Crafts’s novel The Bondwoman’s Narrative, on the run from the North Carolina plantation of her final owners, the escaped slave narrator Hannah seeks a night’s rest in the deep woods. For two weeks she has moved slowly north, seeking shelter and sustenance where she can find it, always anxious she will be discovered and reenslaved: “In every...
2. Piazza Tales: Architecture, Race, and Memory in Charles Chesnutt’s Conjure Stories
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When Charles W. Chesnutt surveyed his literary prospects in the fall of 1889, he had every reason to be optimistic. In the previous two years Chesnutt had placed three of his conjure (or “Uncle Julius”) tales in the Atlantic Monthly, becoming the first African American fiction writer to be published by such an influential arbiter of national taste. During the same...
3. Imperial Bungalow: Structures of Empire in Richard Harding Davis and Olga Beatriz Torres
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At 4:30 in the morning on 28 June 1914, thirteen-year-old Olga Beatriz Torres boarded the first of four trains that would take her from her home outside Mexico City to the militarized Gulf port of Veracruz, nearly 300 miles away. Amid patrolling U.S. Marines, who had seized the port on President Woodrow Wilson’s orders only two and a half months earlier, Torres...
4. Keyless Rooms: Frank Lloyd Wright and Charlie Chan
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Late in the first of Earl Derr Biggers’s six Charlie Chan novels, The House without a Key (1925), the narrative visits, for the first time, the Chinese Hawaiian detective’s home. Chan, we learn, lives in a modest bungalow “that clung precariously to the side of Punchbowl Hill.” From his front gate a visitor—in this instance John Quincy Winterslip, a proper young Bostonian who...
Coda: Black Cabin, White House
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n 1891, architect George F. Barber of Knoxville, Tennessee, published his third booklet of house designs, Cottage Souvenir No. 2, A Repository of Artistic Cottage Architecture and Miscellaneous Designs. His first two booklets, produced in 1887 and 1888 while he was still practicing in DeKalb, Illinois, had been modestly successful, but Cottage Souvenir No. 2 made...
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About the Author
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William Gleason is Professor of English at Princeton University, where he also teaches for the Program in American Studies and is Associate Faculty in the Center for African American Studies. He is the author of The Leisure Ethic: Work and Play in American Literature, 1840–1940.
Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011