African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the by A. Kent

By A. Kent

This booklet examines literature via African, local, and Jewish American novelists before everything of the 20 th century, a interval of radical dislocation from homelands for those 3 ethnic teams in addition to the interval whilst such voices demonstrated themselves as primary figures within the American literary canon.

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18 In the case of The Marrow of Tradition, Chesnutt viewed the novel as a site of potential social change, a place to imagine the unimaginable. In a narrative intrusion in Marrow, Chesnutt writes, “In works of fiction, such men are sometimes converted. More often, in real life, they do not change their natures until they are converted into dust” (304). Ironically in this work of fiction, the violent Euro-American leader is not “converted” and dies trying to defend his white supremacist views. In Marrow, fiction enabled Chesnutt to critique American society at its core and to show that racial difference was a “social fiction” (“Future American” 861), a central argument he makes on the thematic as well as on the formal levels.

Rather than force a break with the past in order to become modern, these writers reshaped modernism to include the old alongside the new, and in the process, they created something new out of something old. CHAPTER 2 African Americans: Moving from Caricatures to Creators, Charles Chesnutt and Zora Neale Hurston The Negro has been a man without a history because he has been considered a man without a worthy culture. —Arthur Schomburg, “The Negro Digs Up His Past” (942) In the wake of the failures of Reconstruction, in the midst of increased violence against African Americans, and on the eve of the Harlem Renaissance, Arthur Schomburg offered this call in “The Negro Digs Up His Past” (1925): “The American Negro must remake his past in order to make his future.

Similar to African Americans, Native Americans faced a rhetorical context that depicted them as unable to adapt to the modern while they also faced government-sponsored forced assimilation and the dispersal of Indian peoples to speed up their assumed disappearance in the modern world. Both Mourning Dove and McNickle (Chapter 3) counter these efforts by blending fictional and scientific genres and oral and written narrative forms to illustrate the adaptability of Native Americans to modernity while simultaneously maintaining the sovereignty of Indian cultures.

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