African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the by A. Kent

By A. Kent

This e-book examines literature by way of African, local, and Jewish American novelists initially of the 20 th century, a interval of radical dislocation from homelands for those 3 ethnic teams in addition to the interval while such voices validated themselves as valuable figures within the American literary canon.

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Southern whites responded to Reconstruction with increased lynchings, beatings, rapes, and murders of African Americans; indeed, this period saw the birth of many white supremacist terrorist groups. Without the institution of slavery as a means of control, whites defended the need for legal and extralegal means of control through an elaborate discursive construction that exploited white fears of retribution for four hundred years of black enslavement: whites claimed that freed slaves were savage and violent in order to justify their mimetic response of violence against African Americans.

While Mourning Dove’s and McNickle’s protagonists ultimately resist incorporation into American society even as they adapt to the modern, Chesnutt’s and Cahan’s protagonists still strive for, even if they do not fully attain, such inclusion. Hurston’s and Yezierska’s protagonists offer a third response, an attempt to mix the old with the new; Sara Smolinsky in Bread Givers acknowledges she must blend Jewish and American cultures while Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God brings the cosmopolitan to the rural.

Between roughly 1870 and 1930, millions of African Americans migrated from southern rural areas in search of a better life. In what has come to be called the Great Migration, the largest demographic shift in American history, they migrated to northern cities (particularly New York and Philadelphia), midwestern cities (most notably Chicago and Detroit), and even western cities such as Richmond and Los Angeles, California. The Great Migration was the largest redistribution of population in the nation’s history (Marks; Rodgers) and significantly altered America’s major cities, with both positive and negative consequences.

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