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White Amnesia - Black Memory?

American Women's Writing and History


Sabine Bröck

Reading a series of prose texts by 20th century white women writers ranging from The Making of Americans to Civil Wars this study interrogates a correlation between authors' subject positions as white and their textual investments in American history. It displaces the diffuse acceptance of whiteness as a given property by foregrounding it as a shared, and unquestioned feature of the white reader's and the text's consciousness. To trace the literary legacies of white amnesia about the Middle Passage is an urgent response to white women writers' participation in US-American historical mythology. At a point of convergence of Black Studies, American Studies and Gender Studies this investigation results in a profound denaturalization of what American history and American cultural memory may signify.
Contents: Reading White Women Writers - Beloved's American Memory - The Politics of Remapping - Signifying on Slavery: From Uncle Tom's Cabin to The Women's Room - Gertrude Stein's America - Josephine Herbst's Radical Whiteness - Joan Didion's Myth of American Innocence - Flannery O'Connor's Mysteries - Lillian Smith's History: A Shadow Three Centuries Old - Civil Wars: Can Feminism Integrate Historical Memory?