Continental Divides: Revisioning American Literature by A. Goldman

By A. Goldman

The publication demands a brand new iconography of zone that unseats New England's prestige as cultural middle of the USA and originary metaphor for nationwide identification. No unmarried territorial or political axis can properly describe the advanced neighborhood relationships that include the kingdom, Goldman argues. The essays during this quantity juxtapose African-American, Mexican-American, and Anglo American fictions produced within the wake of either the Civil battle and the U.S.-Mexican warfare, contiguous nationwide conflicts that stay segregated in serious perform. right away comparative and intertextual, the readings during this examine redefine western literature in its relation to different U.S. neighborhood literary formations. Goldman's arguments query severe sectionalism as widely as they do nearby divisions, by way of blurring conventional differences, by means of interpreting throughout literary classes, and through juxtaposing writers who discover a similar set of social matters throughout the related old second, yet who're conventionally positioned in separate literary traditions: sentimental literature, the African American novel, literary modernism, early Mexican fiction.

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34 Paul Bové’s conclusion to this collection illustrates even more strikingly the work the “global/local nexus” affords transnational theory. He eulogizes Masao Miyoshi’s essay “A Borderless World? From Colonialism to Transnationalism and the Decline of the Nation-State” in language that reads like a scholarly version of The Terminator; that is, a masculinist fantasy of the critic as cyborg: “Miyoshi’s essay strikes one over and over again for its ascetic effect. Oddly, here is an essayist who has stripped away the apparatus of theory, the knowledge of literary history, of aesthetic form to take on something like a hard body: tough, clean, glaring examination of the unjust processes and transformations that occur in global economy, passing almost unnoticed by ‘literary critics’”(376).

26 When Dr. Norval brings his new ward to his middleclass household, her dark skin provides his wife with an excuse to relegate her to the servant’s quarters. In Who Would Have Thought It? as in The Bostonians, abolitionism is a social index that registers class pretensions and speaks to racial differences in excess of the black and white distinctions the MasonDixon line plots between free and slave states. Verena Tarrant’s low birth is equally marked by her mother’s social affectations and her father’s “ignoble” position as “the detested carpet-bagger” (51).

The railroads and telegraph that reconquered a geography” (xii) continue to circulate in ever-popular survey courses like “American Literature After 1865,” a fact that underscores how the Civil War has for some time functioned as a structuring metaphor for literary historiography. This does not mean that we should dismiss it as a literary value; rather, if we decenter and rehistoricize its iconography we will produce more nuanced readings of texts ostensibly designed single-mindedly around this rupture.

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