Harriet Wilson’s New England: Race, Writing, and Region

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2009-11-03 22:31Z by Steven

Harriet Wilson’s New England: Race, Writing, and Region

University of New Hampshire Press
University Press of New England
272 pp. 18 B&W illus., 4 appendixes 6 x 9″
Paper ISBN: 978-1-58465-642-5
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58465-641-8

Edited by

JerriAnne Boggis, Director
Harriet Wilson Project

Eve Allegra Raimon, Associate Professor of Arts and Humanities
University of Southern Maine

Barbara A. White, Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies
University of New Hampshire

Forward by

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W. E. B. Dubois Professor of the Humanities
Harvard University

This volume, with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., advances efforts to correct the historical record about the racial complexity and richness characteristic of rural New England’s past.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Harriet E. Wilson, an enterprising woman of mixed racial heritage, wrote an autobiographical novel describing the abuse and servitude endured by a young black girl in the supposedly free North. Originally published in Boston in 1859 and “lost” until its 1983 republication by noted scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Our Nig; or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, is generally considered the first work of fiction written by an African American woman published in the United States.

With this collection, the first devoted entirely to Wilson and her novel, the editors have compiled essays that seek to understand Wilson within New England and New England as it might have appeared to Wilson and her contemporaries. The contributors include prominent historians, literary critics, psychologists, librarians, and diversity activists. Harriet Wilson’s New England joins other critical works in the emerging field known as the New Regionalism in resurrecting historically hidden ethnic communities in rural New England and exploring their erasure from public memory. It offers new literary and historical interpretations of Our Nig and responds to renewed interest in Wilson’s dramatic account of servitude and racial discrimination in the North.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword – Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Making Space for Harriet E. Wilson
    • Of Bottles and Books: Reconsidering the Readers of Harriet Wilson’s “Our Nig” – Eric Gardner
    • Harriet Wilson’s Mentors: The Walkers of Worcester – Barbara A. White
    • George and Timothy Blanchard: Surviving and Thriving in Nineteenth-Century Milford – Reginald H. Pitts
    • As Soon as I Saw My Sable Brother, I Felt More at Home”: Sampson Battis, Harriet Wilson, and New Hampshire Town History – David H. Watters
    • New Hampshire Forgot: African Americans in a Community by the Sea – Valerie Cunningham
    • Slavery’s Shadows: Narrative Chiaroscuro and “Our Nig” – Mary Louise Kete
    • Recovered Autobiographies and the Marketplace: “Our Nig’s” Generic Genealogies and Harriet Wilson’s Entrepreneurial Enterprise – P. Gabrielle Foreman
    • The Disorderly Girl in Harriet E. Wilson’s “Our Nig” – Lisa E. Green
    • Beyond the Page: Rape and the Failure of Genre – Cassandra Jackson
    • Miss Marsh’s Uncommon School ReformEve Allegra Raimon
    • Fairy Tales and “Our Nig”: Feminist Approaches to Teaching Harriet Wilson’s Novel – Helen Frink
    • Losing Equilibrium: Harriet E. Wilson, Frado, and Me – John Ernest
    • Discovering Harriet Wilson in My Own Backyard – William Allen
    • A Conversation with Tami Sanders – Gloria Henry
    • Not Somewhere Else, But Here – JerriAnne Boggis
  • Contributors
  • Index
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Tripping on the Color Line: Black-White Multiracial Families in a Racially Divided World

Posted in Books, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2009-11-03 22:10Z by Steven

Tripping on the Color Line: Black-White Multiracial Families in a Racially Divided World

Rutgers University Press
October 2000
192 pages
Cloth ISBN: 0-8135-2843-7
Paper ISBN: 0-8135-2844-5

Heather M. Dalmage, Professor of Sociology and Director
Mansfield Institute for Social Justice
Roosevelt University

A sociological analysis of the experiences and challenges faced by black-white multiracial families

At the beginning of the twentieth century, W. E. B. Du Bois predicted that the central problem facing the United States in the new century would be that of the “color line.” Now, with another century upon us, many people are found straddling the color line. They come from the growing number of multiracial families in America, families seeking their places in a racially polarized society.

In interviews with individuals from black/white multiracial families, Heather M. Dalmage examines the challenges they face and explores how their experiences demonstrate the need for rethinking race in America. She examines the lived reality of race in the ways multiracial families construct their identities and sense of community and politics. The lack of language to describe multiracial experiences, along with the methods of negotiating racial ambiguity in a racially divided, racist society are central themes of Tripping on the Color Line. By connecting her interviewees stories to specific issues, such as census categories, transracial adoption, and intermarriage, Dalmage raises the debate to a broad discussion of the idea of race and its impact on social justice.

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The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited: Race and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Antislavery Fiction

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, Social Science, United States, Women on 2009-11-03 19:27Z by Steven

The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited: Race and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Antislavery Fiction

Rutgers University Press
202 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8135-3481-7
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8135-3482-4

Eve Allegra Raimon, Professor, Arts & Humanities
University of Southern Maine

Since its inception, the United States has been intensely preoccupied with interracialism. The concept is embedded everywhere in our social and political fabric, including our sense of national identity. And yet, in both its quantitative and symbolic forms, interracialism remains an extremely elusive phenomenon, causing policy makers and census boards to wrangle over how to delineate it and, on an emblematic level, stirring intense emotions from fear to fascination. In The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited, Eve Allegra Raimon focuses on the mixed-race female slave in literature, arguing that this figure became a symbolic vehicle for explorations of race and nation-both of which were in crisis in the mid-nineteenth century. At this time, judicial, statutory, social, and scientific debates about the meaning of racial difference (and intermixture) coincided with disputes over frontier expansion, which were never merely about land acquisition but also literally about the “complexion” of that frontier. Embodying both northern and southern ideologies, the “amalgamated” mulatta, the author argues, can be viewed as quintessentially American, a precursor to contemporary motifs of “hybrid” and “mestizo” identities. Where others have focused on the gendered and racially abject position of the “tragic mulatta,” Raimon reconsiders texts by such central antislavery writers as Lydia Maria Child, William Wells Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Wilson to suggest that the figure is more usefully examined as a way of understanding the volatile and shifting interface of race and national identity in the antebellum period.

Read an excerpt here.

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Will “Multiracial”: Survive to the Next Generation?: The Racial Classification of Children of Multiracial Parents

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2009-11-03 04:42Z by Steven

Will “Multiracial”: Survive to the Next Generation?: The Racial Classification of Children of Multiracial Parents

Social Forces
Volume 86, Number 2 (December 2007)
pages 821-849
DOI: 10.1353/sof.2008.0007

Jenifer L. Bratter, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban Research
Rice University

Will multiracial identification resonate with future generations? Using the 2000 U.S. Census, I analyze the impact of a multiracial parent on the classification of children in four types of multiracial families (e.g., white/non-white, black/non-black). Compared to families where parents are of two different single-race backgrounds, parental multiracial identity decreased the likelihood of multiracial classification due to the use of labels reflecting a shared single-race category (e.g. white-Asian mother and white father). When parents’ races did not overlap, multiracial classification was more common in households if the other parent was white or American Indian. These results suggest that intergenerational transmission of a multiracial identity is more common in contexts of racial diversity.

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“The Ineffaceable Curse of Cain”: Racial Marking and Embodiment in Pinky

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2009-11-03 00:28Z by Steven

“The Ineffaceable Curse of Cain”: Racial Marking and Embodiment in Pinky

Camera Obscura
43 (Volume 15, Number 1),
pp. 94-121

Elspeth Kydd

Look at my fingers, are not the nails of a bluish tinge . . . that is the ineffaceable curse of Cain . . .
Dion Boucicault, The Octoroon, or Life in Louisiana

The 1949 film Pinky presents a central mulatto character as a method for focusing attention on issues of race and racism.  As one of a series of liberal films released shortly after the Second World War, Pinky approaches issues of race and racism as “social problems.” Yet this film, as do others of this movement, demonstrates more ambiguities around racial categorizations than it offers solutions for dealing with postwar racial tensions.  Made during the Hays Code‘s ban on the representation of miscegenation, Pinky confronts the issue of interracial relations more overtly than many other films of its time by focusing its narrative on the difficulties experienced by a mixed-race woman. The character of Pinky faces crises over passing, as she is torn between her “birthright” and the “mess of pottage”  that she would gain by identifying as white.

Pinky uses the mulatto character to gain audience sympathies, exploring the effects of Southern racism by subjecting the almost-white main character to racially motivated degradations.  Significantly, the film embodies the mulatto through a white actress, producing an ambiguous interplay of audience identifications.  The film engages multiple deployments of the mulatto character: Through the actress, through the social context of the Hays Code, through the visual conventions it deploys, and through its narrative, which draws on…

Read or purchase the entire article here.

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