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Civil Rights and Leadership in African American Literature and Culture
Using the term "exodus politics" to theorize the valorization of black male leadership in the movement for civil rights, Robert J. Patterson explores the ways in which the political strategies and ideologies of this movement paradoxically undermined the collective enfranchisement of black people. He argues that by narrowly conceptualizing civil rights in only racial terms and relying solely on a male figure, conventional African American leadership, though frequently redemptive, can also erode the very goals of civil rights.
The author turns to contemporary African American writers such as Ernest Gaines, Gayl Jones, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson to show how they challenge the dominant models of civil rights leadership.
He draws on a variety of disciplines—including black feminism, civil rights history, cultural studies, and liberation theology—in order to develop a more nuanced formulation of black subjectivity and politics.
Patterson's connection of the concept of racial rights to gender and sexual rights allows him to illuminate the literature's promotion of more expansive models. By considering the competing and varied political interests of black communities, these writers reimagine the dominant models in a way that can empower communities to be self-sustaining in the absence of a messianic male leader.
White Men and Myth in the Post-Sixties American Historical Romance
In Failed Frontiersmen, James Donahue writes that one of the founding and most persistent mythologies of the United States is that of the American frontier. Looking at a selection of twentieth-century American male fiction writers—E. L. Doctorow, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Gerald Vizenor, and Cormac McCarthy—he shows how they reevaluated the historical romance of frontier mythology in response to the social and political movements of the 1960s (particularly regarding the Vietnam War, civil rights, and the treatment of Native Americans). Although these writers focus on different moments in American history and different geographic locations, the author reveals their commonly held belief that the frontier mythology failed to deliver on its promises of cultural stability and political advancement, especially in the face of the multicultural crucible of the 1960s.Cultural Frames, Framing Culture
Drawing on scholarship from an array of disciplines, this volume provides a deep and timely look at the intertwining of race and religion in American politics. The contributors apply the methods of intersectionality, but where this approach has typically considered race, class, and gender, the essays collected here focus on religion, too, to offer a theoretically robust conceptualization of how these elements intersect--and how they are actively impacting the political process.
Antony W. Alumkal, Iliff School of Theology * Carlos Figueroa, University of Texas at Brownsville * Robert D. Francis, Lutheran Services in America * Susan M. Gordon, independent scholar * Edwin I. Hernández, DeVos Family Foundations * Robin Dale Jacobson, University of Puget Sound * Robert P. Jones, Public Religion Research Institute * Jonathan I. Leib, Old Dominion University * Jessica Hamar Martínez, University of Arizona * Eric Michael Mazur, Virginia Wesleyan College * Sangay Mishra, University of Southern California * Catherine Paden, Simmons College * Milagros Peña, University of Florida * Tobin Miller Shearer, University of Montana * Nancy D. Wadsworth, University of Denver * Gerald R. Webster, University of Wyoming
Puerto Rican Women Authors on the Island and the Mainland
Adopting a comparative and multidisciplinary approach to Puerto Rican literature, Marisel Moreno juxtaposes narratives by insular and U.S. Puerto Rican women authors in order to examine their convergences and divergences. By showing how these writers use the trope of family to question the tenets of racial and social harmony, an idealized past, and patriarchal authority that sustain the foundational myth of la gran familia, she argues that this metaphor constitutes an overlooked literary contact zone between narratives from both sides. Moreno proposes the recognition of a "transinsular" corpus to reflect the increasingly transnational character of the Puerto Rican population and addresses the need to broaden the literary canon in order to include the diaspora. Drawing on the fields of historiography, cultural studies, and gender studies, the author defies the tendency to examine these literary bodies independently of one another and therefore aims to present a more nuanced and holistic vision of this literature.
Self-Transformation in Twentieth-Century American Literature
During the twentieth century, the rise of the concept of Americanization—shedding ethnic origins and signs of "otherness" to embrace a constructed American identity—was accompanied by a rhetoric of personal transformation that would ultimately characterize the American Dream. The theme of self-transformation has remained a central cultural narrative in American literary, political, and sociological texts ranging from Jamestown narratives to immigrant memoirs, from slave narratives to Gone with the Wind, and from the rags-to-riches stories of Horatio Alger to the writings of Barack Obama. Such rhetoric feeds American myths of progress, upward mobility, and personal reinvention.
In Fashion and Fiction, Lauren S. Cardon draws a correlation between the American fashion industry and early twentieth-century literature. As American fashion diverged from a class-conscious industry governed by Parisian designers to become more commercial and democratic, she argues, fashion designers and journalists began appropriating the same themes of self-transformation to market new fashion trends. Cardon illustrates how canonical twentieth-century American writers, including Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Nella Larsen, symbolically used clothing to develop their characters and their narrative of upward mobility. As the industry evolved, Cardon shows, the characters in these texts increasingly enjoyed opportunities for individual expression and identity construction, allowing for temporary performances that offered not escapism but a testing of alternate identities in a quest for self-discovery.
The Army of Virginia and the Radicalization of the Civil War
Although much is known about the political stance of the military at large during the Civil War, the political party affiliations of individual soldiers have received little attention. Drawing on archival sources from twenty-five generals and 250 volunteer officers and enlisted men, John Matsui offers the first major study to examine the ways in which individual politics were as important as military considerations to battlefield outcomes and how the experience of war could alter soldiers’ political views.
The conservative war aims pursued by Abraham Lincoln and his generals in the first year of the American Civil War focused on the preservation of the Union and the restoration of the antebellum status quo. This approach was particularly evident in the prevailing policies and attitudes toward the Confederacy-supporting Southern civilians and African American slaves. But this changed in Virginia during the summer of 1862 with the formation of the Army of Virginia. If the Army of the Potomac (the major Union force in Virginia) was dominated by generals who concurred with the ideology of the Democratic Party, the Army of Virginia was its political opposite, from its senior generals to the common soldiers. The majority of officers and soldiers in the Army of Virginia saw slavery and pro-Confederate civilians as crucial components of the rebel war effort and blamed them for prolonging the war. Ultimately, the frustrating occupation experiences of the Army of Virginia radicalized them and other Union soldiers against Southern rebellion and slavery, paving the way for Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
A New Curriculum for the Twenty-first Century
Synthesizing what can be learned from an array of positive and negative experience, scholar and educational reformer Charles Muscatine, founder of Strawberry College and author of the Muscatine Report after the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, presents a brief for refashioning college education in the 21st century. He suggests how to reverse the baneful effects of a disproportionate emphasis on research over teaching, particularly where it is most needed: in large research universities.
Desire without End in Victorian and Edwardian Fiction
In The Flirt’s Tragedy, Richard Kaye makes a case for flirtation as a unique, neglected species of eros that finds its deepest, most elaborately sustained fulfillment in the nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century novel. The author examines flirtation in major British, French, and American texts to demonstrate how the changing aesthetic of such fiction fastened on flirtatious desire as a paramount subject for distinctly novelistic inquiry. The novel, he argues, accentuated questions of ambiguity and ambivalence on which an erotics of deliberate imprecision thrived. But the impact of flirtation was not only formal. Kaye views coquetry as an arena of freedom built on a dialectic of simultaneous consent and refusal, as well as an expression of “managed desire,” a risky display of female power, and a cagey avenue for the expression of dissident sexualities. Through coquetry, novelists offered their response to important scientific and social changes and to the rise of the metropolis as a realm of increasingly transient amorous relations.