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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2007

E 395M • Race, Americanization and Empire in U.S. Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
36295 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
CAL 200

Course Description

This course will examine literature as one important site where racial identities were contested and re-imagined in the latter half of the nineteenth century. This process of re-thinking race was shaped by three historical events that provide the context for this course: post-Civil War reconstruction, immigration, and U.S. imperialism. Each raised new questions and problems for understanding the assumed linkages between race, citizenship and national identity. Who was an American, who could be an American, and what was the role of America in the world? Who was white, and was whiteness an important factor in civilization? How should various racial or ethnic groups and racially "mixed" peoples be classified? Questions like these led writers of fiction to intervene in the on-going efforts of ethnologists, sociologists, law-makers and the courts to define race. Our object of study will be both the complex terrain of racial and national ideology that these writers responded to and created, and specific the role of fiction as a literary form in this debate. Literature may be one cultural site among many in the construction of racial and national ideology, but by placing at the center of our attention we will foreground the question of its particular potential in expressing and shaping culture.


A preliminary list of literary works includes Rebecca Harding Davis Waiting for the Verdict; Helen Hunt Jackson Ramona; Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton Who Would Have Thought It?; Lydia Maria Child Romance of the Republic; Thomas Dixon The Leopard's Spots; Charles Chesnutt The House Behind the Cedars; Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson; Pauline Hopkins Of One Blood; Gertrude Atherton Senator North; John Luther Long Madame Butterfly; Onoto Watanna The Heart of Hyacinth; Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; W.E.B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk; short fiction by Sui Sin Far, Jack London, Peter Finley Dunne, Kate Chopin. Other primary texts will include relevant journalistic essays, scientific writing, and legal documents of the era.

Secondary readings will be drawn from works such as the following: Ian Haney Lopez White By Law; Matthew Frye Jacobson Whiteness of a Different Color; Elise Lemire Miscegenation: Making Race in America, Melissa Nobles Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics, Ann Laura Stoler, ed. Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History, Wernor Sollors Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature; Gail Bederman Manliness and Civilization, Colleen Lye America's Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, Maria Guzman Spain's Long Shadow: The Black Legend, Off-Whiteness and Anglo American Empire, Ali Behdad A Forgetful Nation: On Immigration and Cultural Identity in the United States, F. James Davis Who Is Black? One Nation's Definition, Todd Vogel Rewriting White: Race, Class and Cultural Capital in Nineteenth Century America.


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