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Assimilation and Subversion in Earlier American Literature
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Assimilation and Subversion in Earlier American Literature (Hardback)

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Synopsis

Assimilation and Subversion in Earlier American Literature is a collection of essays that explores the complex interplay between dominance and oppression. Spanning the "long" early American period, the collection considers texts written from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Native Americans, Puritan ministers and Puritan "whores," Barbadian and transatlantic slaves: the early American figures who populate these essays are talking about power, and creating-in writing-a dynamic and complicated relationship between the mainstream and the margin. The essays in this collection offer a collective paradigm for thinking about these issues, one in which "assimilation" and "subversion" are not so much oppositional as they are closely aligned, codependent, and mutually defining. Though these essays do maintain the dialectical play between the two terms, they offer new ways to think about dialectic itself. The goal of the collection is to give readers useful models for approaching texts by nondominant subjects, models that consider the polyphonic flow of power and the possibility of simultaneous multiple, conflicting, and even oppositional effects of oppression.

The collection begins by looking at complex representations of the Christianized Native American, moves through a discussion of "creolized" West Indian and "converted" African slave narratives, explores the ironic uses of sentimentality in a nineteenth-century novel about slavery, and ends with a study of female criminality and the way that it both subverted and reinscribed dominant Puritan orthodoxy. The liminal spaces where assimilation becomes subversion (and vice versa) go by many difference names in this collection: the contact zone, the transcultured, the hybrid, the syncretic, the zombie, the pardodic, the parabolic, the transgressive, the framed. Each of the contributors works to find ways to describe this space without simultaneously closing it down. It can be a significant rhetorical challenge to articulate what might ultimately be a paradox, but this collection aims not only to look at familiar texts in new ways, but also to think about the critical process in a new way. In what ways does the critic's own explication of a text undermine and stabilize the text's coherent meaning?

This is, in many ways, a collection that investigates this methodological question even as it focuses on the nature of power and how "the oppressed" write their way into and out of their own oppression. Contributors include John J. Kucich, Ann M. Brunjes, Nicole N. Aljoe, Robin DeRosa, Mary Getchell, and Kristina Lucenko.

Essays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: general Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing Publication Date: 01/05/2006 ISBN-13: 9781904303848  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Robin DeRosa is an assistant professor of English at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, where she teaches early American literature and critical theory and chairs the Women's Studies program. Dr. DeRosa has recently published articles in Women As Sites of Culture (Ashgate) and Native American Rhetorics (forthcoming from U Pittsburgh P), and is currently working on a manuscript entitled Specters, Scholars, and Sightseers: The Salem Witch Trials and American Memory.

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