Reciprocal Representations in African and Asian American Literatures, 1896-1937
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
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The intellectual and personal debts I incurred while writing this book are too numerous to be recounted here, but I at least know where to begin. This project began as dissertation under the remarkable direction of King-Kok Cheung, whose wisdom and support was the bedrock of my graduate...
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In a speech delivered to the Cleveland Council of Sociology in 1906 on the subject of the “problem” of race, Charles Chesnutt describes the nation’s attitude toward African Americans by comparing them to another racial group: “The Negro is a hard pill to swallow. The Chinese we have sought to...
2. The “Negro Problem” and the “Yellow Peril”: Early Twentieth-Century America’s Views on Blacks and Asians
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In 1907, Howley, Haviland and Company released the sheet music for a song titled “The Wedding of the Chinee and the Coon.” The piece was from the wildly popular musical comedy A Trip to Coontown, which opened on Broadway in 1898 and ran for more than three years. The cover image...
3. Estrangement on a Train: Race and Narratives of American Identity in The Marrow of Tradition and America through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat
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The encounter between the Chinese and African Americans in Plessy v. Ferguson takes place on a train, a setting that I will suggest in this chapter is not irrelevant to the Afro-Asian encounter. Despite their differences in genre, politics, and intended audience, both Charles Chesnutt’s novel...
4. The Eaton Sisters Go to Jamaica
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If Asian American literature were a family drama, the Eaton sisters would no doubt be its stars. The daughters of a penniless but aristocratic British artist and his English-educated Chinese wife, the Eaton sisters are widely considered to be the first authors of Asian American literature. There is also no...
5. Quicksand and the Racial Aesthetics of Chinoiserie
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The very first paragraph of Nella Larsen’s Quicksand describes the novel’s biracial protagonist, Helga Crane, surrounded by objects from China and the Orient.1 This initial description of Helga sitting amid oriental finery, unhappy with her life at a technical school for African American children...
6. Nation, Narration, and the Afro-Asian Encounter in W. E. B. Du Bois’s Dark Princess and Younghill Kang’s East Goes West
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What happens when a novel refuses to act like one? What might be the purpose behind such an act of rebellion against the genre of the novel? W. E. B. Du Bois’s Dark Princess and Younghill Kang’s East Goes West are two novels that offer ambitious if uneasy answers to those thorny questions. The...
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East Goes West and Dark Princess show us that re-imagining racial relations means restructuring the political space in which they operate; this reconfiguration of the relationship between racial difference and the nation-state necessitates the writing of a different kind of novel to tell a different kind...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2011