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American BloodThe Ends of the Family in American Literature, 1850-1900$
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Holly Jackson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199317042

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199317042.001.0001

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Another Long Bridge

Another Long Bridge

Textual Atavism in Hagar’s Daughter

Chapter:
(p.132) Chapter 6 Another Long Bridge
Source:
American Blood
Author(s):

Holly Jackson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199317042.003.0006

This chapter examines Pauline Hopkins’s verbatim reproduction of the Long Bridge narrative from William Wells Brown’s Clotel (which, as Chapter 2 reveals, was already a verbatim reproduction of a prior source) in her first serialized novel, Hagar’s Daughter (1901). Although this appropriation itself serves as a bridge uniting antebellum and fin-de-siècle African American literature, Hopkins utilizes this duplication as a formal strategy of stasis and regression that I describe as textual atavism. African American writers of the nadir like Hopkins and Charles Chesnutt engage with socioscientific discourses of black atavism to indict white savagery as the barrier to black political evolution. They expose the family’s institutional role not simply as a metaphor for the nation but also as the mechanism for the reproduction of its unequal social relations, formulating a genealogical theory of American racism.

Keywords:   atavism, Long Bridge, reproduction, Hopkins, Pauline, Chesnutt, Charles, Hagar’s Daughter

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