Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 20, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 195 pages
Race, Work and Desire analyses literary representations of work relationships across the colour-line from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. Michele Birnbaum examines inter-racial bonds in fiction and literary correspondence by black and white authors and artists - including Elizabeth Keckley, Frances E. W. Harper, W. D. Howells, Grace King, Kate Chopin, Langston Hughes, Amy Spingarn and Carl Van Vechten - exploring the way servants and employers, doctors and patients, and patrons and artists negotiate their racial differences for artistic and political ends. Situating these relationships in literary and cultural context, Birnbaum argues that the literature reveals the complexity of cross-racial relations in the workplace, which, although often represented as an oasis of racial harmony, is in fact the very site where race politics are most fiercely engaged. This study productively complicates current debates about cross-racial collaboration in American literary and race studies, and will be of interest to scholars in both literary and cultural studies.
 

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Contents

working relations and racial desire
1
Elizabeth Keckleys Behind The Scenes Or Thirty Years A Slave And Four Years In The White House ...
28
2 Offcolor patients in Frances E W Harpers Iola Leroy and W D Howellss An Imperative Duty ...
58
3 Alien hands in Kate Chopins The Awakening
76
Langston Hughes and the art of patronage
94
coworkers in the kingdom of culture
146
Notes
152
Index
191
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About the author (2003)

Michele Elam (née Birnbaum) is Martin Luther King, Jr Centennial Professor, Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Professor of English and Director of Curriculum at Stanford University, California. She is the author of The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium (2011) and editor of The Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin (forthcoming, 2014). Chair of the Executive Committee for the Black Literatures and Culture Division of the Modern Language Association (2009-13), at Stanford University she has served as Director of the Program in African and African American Studies (2007-10) and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of English (2006-8). Elam is twice the recipient of the St Clair Drake Outstanding Teaching Award at Stanford (2004 and 2006).

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