An Anthology of Interracial Literature: Black-White Contacts in the Old World and the New

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery on 2010-08-10 04:14Z by Steven

An Anthology of Interracial Literature: Black-White Contacts in the Old World and the New

New York University Press
2004-02-01
675 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780814781432
Paperback ISBN: 9780814781449

Edited by

Werner Sollors, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

A white knight meets his half-black half-brother in battle. A black hero marries a white woman. A slave mother kills her child by a rapist-master. A white-looking person of partly African ancestry passes for white. A master and a slave change places for a single night. An interracial marriage turns sour. The birth of a child brings a crisis. Such are some of the story lines to be found within the pages of An Anthology of Interracial Literature.

This is the first anthology to explore the literary theme of black-white encounters, of love and family stories that cross—or are crossed by—what came to be considered racial boundaries. The anthology extends from Cleobolus’ ancient Greek riddle to tormented encounters in the modern United States, visiting along the way a German medieval chivalric romance, excerpts from Arabian Nights and Italian Renaissance novellas, scenes and plays from Spain, Denmark, England, and the United States, as well as essays, autobiographical sketches, and numerous poems. The authors of the selections include some of the great names of world literature interspersed with lesser-known writers. Themes of interracial love and family relations, passing, and the figure of the Mulatto are threaded through the volume.

An Anthology of Interracial Literature allows scholars, students, and general readers to grapple with the extraordinary diversity in world literature. As multi-racial identification becomes more widespread the ethnic and cultural roots of world literature takes on new meaning.

Contributors include: Hans Christian Andersen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charles W. Chesnutt, Lydia Maria Child, Kate Chopin, Countee Cullen, Caroline Bond Day, Rita Dove, Alexandre Dumas, Olaudah Equiano, Langston Hughes, Victor Hugo, Charles Johnson, Adrienne Kennedy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Guy de Maupassant, Claude McKay, Eugene O’Neill, Alexander Pushkin, and Jean Toomer.

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Bayou Folk

Posted in Books, Louisiana, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2009-11-23 18:42Z by Steven

Bayou Folk

Prometheus Books
Originally Published by Houghton Mifflin in 1894
Pages: 286
Paperback ISBN: 1-57392-975-1

Kate Chopin

The author who today is probably best known for her novel The Awakening initially established her literary reputation with short stories about life in rural Louisiana during the late nineteenth century. Born Katherine O’Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri, she later married Oscar Chopin, a Creole cotton trader and commission merchant, and lived in and around New Orleans for more than a decade until her husband’s death. During these years, while raising six children on a Southern plantation, Chopin became acquainted with Creoles, Cajuns, and newly freed blacks. After her husband’s death she returned to St. Louis and began writing, drawing from her recent experience in Louisiana to create her fiction.

The stories collected in Bayou Folk present remarkably vivid snapshots of daily life in a now vanished world. Many of them highlight the relations between blacks and whites in a society where the rules of engagement still reflected the entrenched patterns of slavery some two decades after the Civil War. As she was ahead of her time regarding women’s rights in The Awakening, where she depicted a woman unafraid to throw off traditional restraints, Chopin was also farsighted about race relations in Bayou Folk. Perhaps the story DĂ©sirĂ©e’s Baby about the birth of a mixed-race baby to two ‘white’ parents best expresses the uneasy relationship between blacks and whites in the old South, and the moral outrage of its strict codes against miscegenation.

Chopin’s gifts for capturing the dialects of the region and for telling a compelling story in memorable vignettes provide the reader with a richly rewarding experience.

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Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2009-10-15 17:58Z by Steven

Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature

Oxford University Press
March 1997
592 pages
Hardback ISBN13: 9780195052824; ISBN10: 019505282X

Werner Sollors, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Afro American Studies; Director of the History of American Civilization Program
Harvard University

Why can a “white” woman give birth to a “black” baby, while a “black” woman can never give birth to a “white” baby in the United States? What makes racial “passing” so different from social mobility? Why are interracial and incestuous relations often confused or conflated in literature, making “miscegenation” appear as if it were incest? When did the myth that one can tell a person’s race by the moon on their fingernails originate? How did blackness get associated with “the curse of Ham” when the Biblical text makes no reference to skin color at all?

Werner Sollors examines these questions and others in Neither Black Nor White Yet Both, a new and exhaustively researched exploration of “interracial literature.” In the past, interracial texts have been read more for a black-white contrast of “either-or” than for an interracial realm of “neither, nor, both, and in-between.” Intermarriage prohibitions have been legislated throughout the modern period and were still in the law books in the 1980s. Stories of black-white sexual and family relations have thus run against powerful social taboos. Yet much interracial literature has been written, and this book suggests its pervasiveness and offers new comparative and historical contexts for understanding it.

Looking at authors from Heliodorus, John Stedman, Buffon, Thomas Jefferson, Heinrich von Kleist, Victor Hugo, Aleksandr Sergeevic Puskin, and Hans Christian Andersen, to Lydia Maria Child, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Wells Brown, Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Cirilo Villaverde, Aluisio Azevedo, and Pauline Hopkins, and on to modern writers such as Langston Hughes, Jessie Fauset, Boris Vian, and William Faulkner, Sollors ranges across time, space, and cultures, analyzing scientific and legal works as well as poetry, fiction, and the visual arts, to explore the many themes and motifs interwoven throughout interracial literature. From the etymological origins of the term “race” to the cultural sources of the “Tragic Mulatto,” Sollors examines the recurrent images and ideas in this literature of love, family, and other relations between blacks, whites, and those of “mixed race.”

Sollors’ interdisciplinary explorations of literary themes yield many insights into the history and politics of “race,” and illuminate a new understanding of the relations between cultures through the focus on interracial exchanges. Neither Black Nor White Yet Both is vital reading for anyone who seeks to understand what has been written and said about “race,” and where interracial relations can go from here.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Introduction:
  • Black—White—Both—Neither—In-Between xv
  • 1. Origins; or, Paradise Dawning 31
  • 2. Natus Æthiopus/Natus Albus 48
  • 3. The Curse of Ham; or, from “Generation” to “Race” 78
  • 4. The Calculus of Color 112
  • 5. The Bluish Tinge in the Halfmoon; or, Fingernails as a Racial Sign 142
  • 6. Code Noir and Literature 162
  • 7. Retellings: Mercenaries and Abolitionists 188
  • 8. Excursus on the “Tragic Mulatto”; or, the Fate of a Stereotype 220
  • 9. Passing; or, Sacrificing a Parvenu 246
  • 10. Incest and Miscegenation 285
  • Endings 336
  • Appendix A: A Chronology of Interracial Literature 361
  • Appendix B: Prohibitions of Interracial Marriage and Cohabitation 395
  • Notes 411
  • Selected Bibliography 523
  • Index 561
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