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254Reviews Alexie have presented African-Native American characters in their works. Patricia Riley reads Walker's multiethnic move as "extend[ing] a hand of reconciliation across the centuries" (254). Sharon Holland analyzes the potential for a new discourse based on African-Native American subjectivity . Paul Pasquaretta credits Morrison and Alexie with insight into the black and Indian blues traditions. Besides the introduction, When Brer Rabbit Meets Coyote contains only three essays that have not been previously published. Taken as a whole, however, the volume heralds a "new" path for ethnic studies. It gives the term multiethnic a fresh outlook on the American experience. Northeastern UniversityBonnie TuSmith Shelley Streeby. American Sensations: Class, Empire and the Production ofPopular Culture, xv, 384 pp., cloth $60.00, paper $24.95. In American Sensations, Shelley Streeby argues that "an understanding of the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848) and mid-nineteenth-century empire building is required in order to understand the histories of race, nativism, labor, politics, and popular and mass culture in the United States" (xi). Streeby demonstrates the enduring legacy of this sometimes overlooked war through analyses of "city mysteries" novels, story papers, dime novels, crime gazettes, and other forms of entertainment from the antebellum period through the early twentieth century. Part One, "American Sensations," explores the links between fiction related to the U. S.-Mexican War and antebellum urban novels. Ned Buntline, best known for his role in creating the legend of Buffalo Bill, wrote two antebellum city mysteries novels that turn midway into tales of imperial adventure in Cuba. Another novelist, Philadelphia author and labor organizer George Lippard, wrote two novels on the U.S.-Mexican War, in which he suppressed the nativism and critique ofthe wealthy that saturated his city mysteries novels in order to posit a unified, classless Protestant America bringing democracy to benighted, Catholic Mexico. Streeby's analysis suffers when she mouths the pieties of critical fashion. For example, she claims that Lippard's portraits ofU.S. massacres ofMexican civilians in fiction that otherwise supports the war expose the "gaps" or "contradictions" of Manifest Destiny ideology. A simpler explanation for Lippard's appearing to straddle the fence on the war effort would be his desire to sell books to readers on both sides of the debate. Nonetheless, Streeby shows that American imperialism, usually associated with the late nineteenth century, was in fact a mid-century reality that strongly influenced the period's popular literature. Studies in American Fiction255 In Part Two, "Foreign Bodies and International Race Romance in the Story Papers," Streeby describes the "story paper empire," the cheap periodicals that serialized fiction alongside editorials and political activism in the 1840s and 1850s. Much of this fiction depicts heroic, AngloSaxon U.S. officers marrying elite Mexican women as the authors mask the violence of imperial conquest with tales of consensual romance. Noting the Mexican heroines' penchant for cross-dressing, Streeby sensibly suggests that the authors projected American anxieties about women's roles onto exotic Mexican female Others. Racialist concerns about the assimilation of Irish immigrants also inform this fiction, either through treacherous Irish mercenaries who unite with fellow Catholic Mexicans to betray the American cause, or through Irish soldiers who die honorably on the battlefield, thereby solidifying their hitherto tenuous identity as members of "white" society. Thus the empire building in which the U.S. was engaged at mid-century had important implications for the construction of white working-class identity in Northeastern cities. Working-class political movements such as nativism and land reform are the primary subject of Part Three, "Land, Labor, and Empire in the Dime Novel." Writers who opposed the U.S.-Mexican War did so not necessarily out ofsympathy with the conquered populations; on the contrary, nativist authors such A.J. Duganne feared the "contamination" of white America by the Mexican and Indian inhabitants of the West. Some war fiction made comparisons among Mexican debt farmers, Northern laborers , and Southern chattel slaves, depicting the plantation system as more humane than Mexican debt peonage to justify the expansion of slavery that it was thought would follow annexation of new Western lands. Streeby's most important insight in this section is that many dime novel Westerns...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 254-256
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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