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The discourse of race and Southern literature, 1890 - 1940

From consensus and accommodation to subversion and resistance


Andreas Müller-Hartmann

The monograph looks at the literary representation of race relations in the American South from 1890 to 1940. Literary texts by Southern white and black authors form part of a complex discourse of race that incorporates historical, economical, social, and literary practices. In four historical periods the increasing opposition to the prevalent discourse of race is delineated. Each chapter covers four interlocked areas: 1. The grounding of the literary discourse of race in the economic and political developments. 2. The changes in the representation of the black ‘Other’ by white writers. 3. The tactics of subversion and resistance through ‘black sounds’ that established a counterhegemonic discourse. 4. The role of women writers and their attempts at undermining the patriarchal discourse.
Contents: The racist Southern white discourse around the turn of the century and first attempts at its subversion, 1890-1914 – The ‘Harlem Renaissance’ and the ‘Southern Renaissance’: Two attempts at revising traditional discourses, 1918-1930 – The beginning of the Depression: Southern white writers probe the racist discourse of the Agrarians, 1930-1935 – The emerging voice of resistance among Southern black writers during the second half of the Depression, 1935-1940.