Ethnic Ventriloquism

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Januar 2008



To read the foundational texts of the American Renaissance as well as other canonical nineteenth-century texts as instances of "literary minstrelsy" may at first seem counterintuitive not only in the apparent confounding of popular and literary cultures, but also in the relative significance such a reading would accord to the ethnic difference portrayed in these narratives. Yet, such a reversal of perspective is precisely what this book suggests. Are the strolling Indian in Thoreau's Walden, the Native physician in The Scarlet Letter, or the unkempt Mexican girl in Kate Chopin's The Awakening, really only incidental to these literary narratives? Proposing the concept of "ethnic ventriloquism," this study argues that the commitment of nineteenth-century America to democratic self-renewal may be much more indebted to ethnic sources than it would at first appear. America's pledge to democracy may in fact be an instance of a white subject speaking in an ethnic voice, a literary instance of brownface, redface, yellowface, or blackface. The aim of this re-reading of nineteenth-century American literature is to recover the referent of such ethnic ventriloquism, to imagine the moment where the "real" owner of the ethnic voice appears alongside the white ventriloquist to contemplate the logic of national self-definition of which he may not only be the source, but - in a reversal of roles between ventriloquist and ventriloquist's dummy - the mastermind.

EAN: 9783825354367
ISBN: 3825354369
Untertitel: Literary Minstrelsy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. 'American Studies - A Monograph Series'. Sprache: Englisch.
Verlag: Universitätsverlag Winter
Erscheinungsdatum: Januar 2008
Seitenanzahl: 312 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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