Beyond Ethnicity : Consent and Descent in American Culture: Consent and Descent in American Culture

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Oxford University Press, Feb 27, 1986 - Literary Criticism - 320 pages
2 Reviews
Nothing is "pure" in America, and, indeed, the rich ethnic mix that constitutes our society accounts for much of its amazing vitality. Werner Sollors's new book takes a wide-ranging look at the role of "ethnicity" in American literature and what that literature has said--and continues to say--about our diverse culture. Ethnic consciousness, he contends, is a constituent feature of modernism, not modernism's antithesis. Discussing works from every period of American history, Sollors focuses particularly on the tension between "descent" and "consent"--between the concern for one's racial, ethnic, and familial heritage and the conflicting desire to choose one's own destiny, even if that choice goes against one's heritage. Some of the stories Sollors examines are retellings of the biblical Exodus--stories in which Americans of the most diverse origins have painted their own histories as an escape from bondage or a search for a new Canaan. Other stories are "American-made" tales of melting-pot romance, which may either triumph in intermarriage, accompanied by new world symphonies, or end with the lovers' death. Still other stories concern voyages of self-discovery in which the hero attempts to steer a perilous course between stubborn traditionalism and total assimilation. And then there are the generational sagas, in which, as if by magic, the third generation emerges as the fulfillment of their forebears' dream. Citing examples that range from the writings of Cotton Mather to Liquid Sky (a "post-punk" science fiction film directed by a Russian emigre), Sollors shows how the creators of American culture have generally been attracted to what is most new and modern. About the Author: Werner Sollors is Chairman of the Afro-American Studies Department at Harvard University and the author of Amiri Baraka: The Quest for a Populist Modernism. A provocative and original look at "ethnicity" in American literature DTCovers stories from all periods of our nation's history DTRelates ethnic literature to the principle of literary modernism DT"Grave and hilarious, tender and merciless...The book performs a public service."-Quentin Anderson

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Review: Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture

User Review  - Jesse Rhines - Goodreads

Excellent read. Presents a non racial/ethnic analysis model for ethnic relations and change in the American context. Read full review

Review: Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture

User Review  - Steven Salaita - Goodreads

A lot has been written about ethnicity in the United States since Beyond Ethnicity was published--the majority of it better than Beyond Ethnicity. Read full review


Beyond Ethnicity
Typology and Ethnogenesis
Melting Pots
Romantic Love Arranged Marriage and Indian
Romantic Love versus Arranged Marriage
From Indian to Urban
The Tradition of the Mysteries
First Generation Second Generation Third
Hansens Law Revisited
A Cultural Grandfather
Ethnicity and Literary Form

Some Tales of Consent and Descent
The Ethics of Wholesome Provincialism

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