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128 Canadian Review of American Studies cultural assimilation, and the dilution of ethnicity which accompanied it, ultimately helped to undermine these organizations and, in no small part, paved the way for the assertion of male control over the sporting life of women which had clearly emerged by mid-century. The articles selected for inclusion are by no means consistent in the quality of their research or writing, or in the sophistication of their analysis. Indeed, several of the pieces could be described as little more than preliminary studies, based almost exclusively on secondary research, and offering only general conclusions and some worthwhile direction for future studies. Explicit efforts to include the Canadian immigrant experience and the experience of American ethnic women both fall short of expectations for lack of sufficient material, in contrast to issues of race, which are treated thoroughly and with genuine insight. Nevertheless, the deficiencies aside, Ethnicity and Sport in North American History and Culture is informative and makes a notable contribution to our understanding of how dominant sections of American society attempted to socialize diverse ethnic groups into so-called mainstream North American culture through sport, and, simultaneously, the responses of ethnic groups to discrimination in sport and through sport. Eisen's opening justification of the book, namely that "sport is an excellent medium for studying the evolution of a rapidly changing society1' (xvi) is certainly borne out. Patrick H. Brennan University of Calgary Eric J. Sundquist. To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993. pp. 705. In this extensive and compelling study of race in American literature, Eric Sundquist notes that readers and critics typically misunderstand the signs generated by another culture's traditions, and, as a result, attempt to force their own critical paradigms onto that culture, in the process ignoring what seems "nonsensical" to them. Implying that most critics of American literature are guilty of this kind of "misapprehension" concerning issues of race, Sundquist takes on the role of 11 decoder" or translator and sets out to reconstruct our vision of not just American literature and culture, but literary BookReviews 129 criticism and cultural studies as well. He assumes that race has been the "defining issue" of American literature and cultural history up to the present day, an idea which is not new to critics of African-American literature and culture but which is rarely seen in studies covering canonical white writers (Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark is a recent example of the latter). While the book's flyleaf claims that Sundquist's task here is to "integrate" the canon of American literature, to show how "white" literature and "black" literature form a single interwoven tradition, it's more accurate to say that he's trying to establish race as a paradigm upon which to rebuild our conceptions of both the American canon and literary value. To do so, he reveals the influence of slavery and its aftermath upon literature by AfricanAmerican and white writers, uncovering the "complex cultural language at work behind the scenes" of the texts he reads here, a language which, like African-American spirituals, has been difficult or impossible for (white) critics to "hear" correctly. Attempting to "break down the race barrier in American literary history, 11 Sundquist models his multidimensional study in part upon W. E. B. DuBois's "masterwork, 11 Souls of Black Folk (20); like Du Bois, he also breaks down the disciplinary barrier by seriously engaging multiple dimensions of both white and African-American literature and culture. The book's three sections, each of which contains two chapters, cover the periods of the American Renaissance, Reconstruction, and the early twentieth century, respectively. Aside from his consistently cogent discussions of the cultural context of each writer (including analyses of history, politics, ethnology, and law), Sundquist provides well-researched discussions of African-American cultural practices (minstrelsy and burlesque, music, religion, folklore, and conjure). The first section focuses on the autobiographies of Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass (chapter 1) and novels by Herman Melville and Martin Delany (chapter 2); here, Sundquist revises our conception of the American Renaissance to indicate a different kind of rebirth, that of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 128-132
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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