Race, Rape, and Lynching: The Red Record of American Literature, 1890-1912

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Oxford University Press, Oct 10, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 208 pages
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In the late nineteenth century, the stereotype of the black male as sexual beast functioned for white supremacists as an externalized symbol of social chaos against which all whites would unite for the purpose of national renewal. The emergence of this stereotype in American culture and literature during and after Reconstruction was related to the growth of white-on-black violence, as white lynch mobs acted in "defense" of white womanhood, the white family, and white nationalism. In Writing a Red Record Sandra Gunning investigates American literary encounters with the conditions, processes, and consequences of such violence through the representation of not just the black rapist stereotype, but of other crucial stereotypes in mediating moments of white social crisis: "lascivious" black womanhood; avenging white masculinity; and passive white femininity. Gunning argues that these figures together signify the tangle of race and gender representation emerging from turn-of-the-century American literature. The book brings together Charles W. Chestnutt, Kate Chopin, Thomas Dixon, David Bryant Fulton, Pauline Hopkins, Mark Twain, and Ida B. Wells: famous, infamous, or long-neglected figures who produced novels, essays, stories, and pamphlets in the volatile period of the 1890s through the early 1900s, and who contributed to the continual renegotiation and redefinition of the terms and boundaries of a national dialogue on racial violence.
 

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Contents

On Literary Records and Discursive Possibilities
3
ReMembering Blackness After Reconstruction Race Rape and Political Desire in the Work of Thomas Dixon Jr
19
Mark Twain Charles Chesnutt and the Politics of Literary AntiRacism
48
Black Women and White Terrorism Ida B Wells David Bryant Fulton Pauline E Hopkins and the Politics of Representation
77
Rethinking White Female Silences Kate Chopins Local Color Fiction and the Politics of White Supremacy
108
Cultural Memories and Critical Inventions
136
Notes
149
Bibliography
177
Index
190
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About the author (1996)

Sandra Gunning is Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at the College of William and Mary.

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