A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America, edited by Frank Shuffelton (Oxford University Press, 1993) [Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States on 2011-01-19 05:59Z by Steven

A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America, edited by Frank Shuffelton (Oxford University Press, 1993) [Review]

African American Review
Volume 29, Number 1 (Spring 1995)
pages 149-152

Raymond F. Dolle, Associate Professor of English
Indiana State University

A Mixed Race extends the recent work of ethnographic critics, such as James Clifford (The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art [1988]), and such literary critics as Werner Sollors (Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture [1986]) and William Boelhower (Through a Glass Darkly: Ethnic Semiosis in American Literature [1987]). These critics have argued that ethnicity is not located solely in an essential cultural identity, continuity, or tradition, and that texts should not be understood as mimetic descriptions of an essential, unchanging ethnic difference (even though that is often the pretense of these texts). Rather, the center of ethnicity should be seen as a dynamic relation between cultural groups, and their texts as orchestrations of multivocal exchanges among these groups as they transform themselves (the hegemonic group included) in the process of confronting others. Thus, ethnicity is performance, a group’s continually changing self-understanding in relation to a changing larger world, a struggle for control over narratives, values, and the self. Furthermore, this process of ethnicity is carried on by means of signs and codes that are generated by the groups to negotiate relationships with other hostile or accommodating groups. So, to understand more fully the ethnic foundation of our culture, we must recognize ethnic semiosis in colonial texts. Such clarifying views have enabled the scholars in this volume to consider the circumstances, rhetorical negotiations, and representation of ethnic formation in early America…

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A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Media Archive, United States on 2009-11-02 20:48Z by Steven

A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America

Oxford University Press
March 2003
296 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
ISBN13: 978-0-19-507523-6
ISBN10: 0-19-507523-4

Edited by

Frank Shuffelton, Professor Emeritus of English
University of Rochester

This collection of new essays enters one of the most topical and energetic debates of our time–the subject of ethnicity. The recent vigorous debates being waged over questions raised by the phenomenon of multiculturalism in America highlight the fact that American culture has arisen out of an unusually rich and interactive ethnic mix. The essays in A Mixed Race suggest that American society was inescapably multicultural from its very beginnings and that this representation of cultural differences fundamentally defined American culture. While recent scholarship has looked extensively at the ethnic formation of modern American culture, this study focuses on the eighteenth century and colonial American values that have been previously overlooked in the debate, arguing that a culture shaped by responses to ethnic and racial difference is not merely a modern circumstance but one at the base of American history. Written by a group of first-class contributors, the essays in this collection discuss the representation of cultural differences between European immigrants and Native Americans, the circumstances of the first African-American autobiographical narratives, rhetorical negotiations among different European-American cultural groups, ethnic representation in the genre literature of jest books and execution narratives, and the ethnic conceptions of Michel de Crevecoeur, Phillis Wheatley, and Thomas Jefferson. A Mixed Race offers agile and original yet scholarly readings of ethnicity and ethnic formation from some of our best critics of early American culture. Moving from questions of race and ethnicity to varieties of ethnic representation, and finally to individual confrontations, this volume sheds light on the confrontations of ethnically diverse peoples, and launches a timely, full-scale investigation of the construction of American culture.

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