Edith Eaton’s Expanding Oeuvre

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-09-06 03:28Z by Steven

Edith Eaton’s Expanding Oeuvre

American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism
Volume 27, Number 1, 2017
pages 6-10

Mary Chapman, Professor of English
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Since the early 1980s, when S. E. Solberg published a short checklist of twenty-two works of fiction and journalism by Chinese American author Sui Sin Far (Edith Eaton), our knowledge of her oeuvre has grown considerably. By 2007, through the efforts of Annette White-Parks and Amy Ling, as well as Dominika Ferens and Martha Cutter, Eaton’s oeuvre included about one hundred works of fiction, poetry, and journalism, many of which addressed the experiences of diasporic Chinese in North America. In the past ten years, I have discovered more than one hundred fifty texts by Eaton, some of which are collected in Becoming Sui Sin Far: Early Fiction, Journalism and Travel Writing by Edith Maude Eaton.1 Eaton’s expanded oeuvre demonstrates that she was a much more complicated author than formerly believed, a writer who worked in a range of genres and styles, addressed numerous themes beyond the Chinese diaspora, and published in a wide assortment of turn-of-the-century magazines and newspapers in three national contexts: the United States, Canada, and Jamaica.

To locate uncollected works by Eaton, I took inspiration from the impressive detective work of White-Parks and Diana Birchall,2 who wrote biographies of Eaton and her sister Winnifred (Onoto Watanna), respectively, as well as from Ferens’s recovery of Eaton’s Jamaican journalism. To begin, I developed a list of periodicals and newspapers in which Eaton published or to which she submitted work, based on information about twenty-four periodicals provided in the acknowledgments of her only book, Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912):

I have to thank the Editors of The Independent, Out West, Hampton’s, The Century, Delineator, Ladies’ Home Journal, Designer, New Idea, Short Stories, Traveler, Good Housekeeping, Housekeeper, Gentlewoman, New York Evening Post, Holland’s, Little Folks, American Motherhood, New England, Youth’s Companion, Montreal Witness, Children’s, Overland, Sunset, and Westerner magazines, who were kind enough to care for my children when I sent them out into the world, for permitting the dear ones to return to me to be grouped together within this volume.3

Inspired by Jean Lee Cole’s recovery of periodical works by Winnifred Eaton, I also scoured Eaton’s autobiographical writings, correspondence with editors, and reviews of and introductions to her periodical publications for any mention of publications to which she may have submitted work.4 Eaton’s reference in “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian” to “local [Montreal] papers” that gave her a “number of assignments, including most of the local Chinese reporting,”5 for example, prompted me to consult late 1880s and 1890s issues of the Montreal Star, Montreal Witness, and Montreal Gazette. In “A Word from Miss Eaton” in the Westerner, Eaton mentions publishing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.6 The literary editor of the Westerner also notes in his preamble to “A Word from Sui Sin Far” that Eaton’s works had appeared in Woman’s Home Companion.7 Eaton’s correspondence with Land of Sunshine editor Charles Lummis and Century editor Robert Underwood Johnson, as well as a letter that Los Angeles Express editor Samuel Clover wrote to Johnson, also mention periodicals to which Eaton submitted fiction.8 To this list of publications, I added Fly Leaf, Lotus, the Chautauquan, and the Boston Globe—publications in which White-Parks and Ling had located works by Eaton—as well as Metropolitan Magazine, Gall’s News Letter, and Leslie’s Weekly—periodicals in which Cutter, Ferens, and June Howard had located additional texts.9

I then searched as many issues of these publications as possible for relevant years, in either digitized or paper form. Given the brevity of Eaton’s career (twenty-six years between 1888 and her death in 1914), looking through bound volumes or tables of contents for key years of nondigitized (and sometimes short-lived) monthly magazines was not arduous. Comprehensive searches of nondigitized daily newspapers were more challenging, however, so I searched the Los Angeles Express, Montreal Star, Montreal Gazette, Montreal Witness, Chicago Evening Post, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and New York Evening Post for only particular periods during which Eaton was likely to…

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“The Case Was Very Black against” Her: Pauline Hopkins and the Politics of Racial Ambiguity at the “Colored American Magazine”

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2012-01-04 01:45Z by Steven

“The Case Was Very Black against” Her: Pauline Hopkins and the Politics of Racial Ambiguity at the “Colored American Magazine”

American Periodicals
Volume 16, Number 1 (2006)
pages 52-73

Sigrid Anderson Cordell, Librarian for History, American Literature, and American Culture
University of Michigan

When Pauline Hopkins’s short story. “Talma Gordon,” appeared in the October 1900 issue of the Colored American Magazine, it ran opposite a photograph of a young smiling African-American boy balancing an American flag across one arm with the other arm raised in a salute (Figure 1). By linking the black child and the American flag, this picture, entitled “The Young Colored American.” attempts to align U.S. interests with those of the black community and reflects the magazine’s aim to recover the role of African Americans in American history. The figure of the child evokes both a sense of optimism and an historical link to America’s infancy. Likewise, the photograph of the  “Young Colored American” echoes the revisionist themes of “Talma Gordon.” a story which calls into question the hagiography of the American elite and instead celebrates the figure of a mixed-race woman who has been scorned by her white father, a scion of New England society. In this story. Hopkins reflects the Colored American Magazine’s mission to “perpetuat[e] … a history of the negro race” and re-write the triumphal narratives of traditional American history. As I will argue, however, the interweaving of gender and racial politics in the narrative structure of this story both reflects and complicates the politics of the journal itself.

Throughout her literary career. Pauline Hopkins (1859-1930) deliberately incorporated politics into her work and claimed a voice for African Americans, particularly African-American women. Rather than publishing in the mainstream literary journals such as Harper’s and the Atlantic that dominated the American cultural scene at the turn of the twentieth century, Hopkins wrote for periodicals specifically targeted to the black community, such as the Colored American Magazine. What sets her fiction and journalism apart from that of her female contemporaries—both black and white—is her blunt depiction…

Purchase the article here.

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The case of Ebony and Topaz: Racial and Sexual Hybridity in Harlem Renaissance Illustrations

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2010-09-20 05:12Z by Steven

The case of Ebony and Topaz: Racial and Sexual Hybridity in Harlem Renaissance Illustrations

American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography
Volume 15, Number 1, (2005)
pages 86-111
E-ISSN: 1548-4238
Print ISSN: 1054-7479
DOI: 10.1353/amp.2005.0006

Caroline Goeser, Assistant Professor of Art History
University of Houston

University of Virginia

Ebony and Topaz was issued once in 1927 as a collection of essays, poetry, and illustrations edited by Charles S. Johnson, the African American editor of Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life. Though the volume has received little scholarly attention, it articulated the theme of racial hybridity that not only proved an integral component of Harlem Renaissance cultural production but marked the diversity of American modernism between the wars. Significantly, Johnson’s editorial method in Ebony and Topaz, which promised minimal interference and direction, allowed his contributors freedom to broach controversial subjects shunned by the more conservative African American editors of the period, such as W. E. B. DuBois. As a result, Johnson’s compendium resisted limitation to the facile theme of racial uplift and challenged restrictive classifications of racial identity. The most culturally subversive production came from two illustrators of Ebony and Topaz, Charles Cullen and Richard Bruce Nugent. Seemingly benign at first glance, their illustrations interrogated the…

[View some of Richard Bruce Nugent’s artwork here.]

Read or purchase the article here.

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