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

By A. Kent

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

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African Americans increasingly found themselves confined to inner-city ghettos (a term that invokes the historical experiences of Jews), forced to pay higher rents for deteriorating housing, and unable to move to other areas of the city because of housing discrimination (Trotter, “Migration/Population”). As the number of African American migrants increased, whites left the central city, taking with them employment opportunities, industrial parks, factories and shops, and other key infrastructure (Franklin and Moss 470–72).

Many gained their primary exposure to (what they presumed to be) African American culture through blackface performances. Of course, what Euro-Americans saw on the stage had little relation to the actual lived experience and culture of African Americans. Despite the story of Rice’s impersonation of an African American, minstrel performances did not contain “authentic” elements of African American culture; instead, whites projected their fantasies and wishes of anti-Victorian values onto African Americans and performed that image (Huggins).

As is the case of Hurston’s novel, Mourning Dove’s Cogewea, one of the first novels published by a Native American woman, incorporates oral stories in the written form, enabling her to resist anthropological efforts to fix Native American cultures as static and traditional. Like Chesnutt, who portrays American culture as INTRODUCTION 21 already changed by African Americans, Mourning Dove depicts Salishan culture as a fluid and changing blend of old and new forms; unlike Chesnutt’s portrayal, Mourning Dove’s portrait remains Native, even as it adapts to modernity and contact with other cultures.

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