On Literary Records and Discursive Possibilities
This book was created as a means to uncover ways in which Americans of both races contribute to a continual renegotiation and redefinition of terms and boundaries of the sectional and national issue of violence. It shows the interrelationship of writers during 1890 to 1912 and their influence on their society, specifically on the figure of the black as a beast, race and violence, and the American tradition of lynching. The author does not argue that black and white writers effected a rise or decline in lynching as suggested by the subtitle (which echoes Ida B. Wells' 1895 anti-lynching pamphlet, A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States, 1892–1893–1894). The four chapters of this book were formulated to emphasize the thematic overlaps and differences among writers, their novelistic subgenres, and their political locations. Finally, the book aims to challenge the ways in which canonical boundaries have traditionally been defined, and looks at the manner in which American discourses on “race” and “gender” contribute to the attempt to change critical attention from moments of linear traditionalism to moments of more problematic, contradictory convergences among American literatures.
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