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By A. Goldman

The publication demands a brand new iconography of zone that unseats New England's prestige as cultural middle of the us and originary metaphor for nationwide identification. No unmarried territorial or political axis can appropriately describe the advanced local relationships that include the country, Goldman argues. The essays during this quantity juxtapose African-American, Mexican-American, and Anglo American fictions produced within the wake of either the Civil battle and the U.S.-Mexican battle, contiguous nationwide conflicts that stay segregated in serious perform. without delay comparative and intertextual, the readings during this learn redefine western literature in its relation to different U.S. neighborhood literary formations. Goldman's arguments query serious sectionalism as generally as they do neighborhood divisions, through blurring familiar differences, by means of studying throughout literary classes, and via juxtaposing writers who discover a similar set of social matters throughout the comparable ancient second, yet who're conventionally situated in separate literary traditions: sentimental literature, the African American novel, literary modernism, early Mexican fiction.

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Extra resources for Continental Divides: Revisioning American Literature

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The brogue of the “sensitive Irish ladies” (31) is audible in the novel, as is their distaste for the girl they think is black. Their lack of hospitality toward Lola resonates with their lowly social station, which Ruiz naturalizes through metaphors that play upon color. Divested of her feminizing hoop skirts, the “repulsive” (38) cook stands in the center of her fallen clothing “like a stubby column in the middle of a blackened ruin” (37). Her stockings, similarly soiled “black . . had the privilege of ascending to her ankles, where they modestly coiled themselves in two black rings” (37).

What is important about the New West is precisely what Turner argued was significant about the old one: its ability to model America. Worster, Limerick, and other scholars who redefine this region as a distinctive section point to its special relationship to the federal polity; the West is unique in its dependence on national government. “Government had a greater impact upon the West than the West had upon government,” Gerald Nash argues, and so “the myth of the individualistic, isolated self-sufficient Westerner is largely that—a myth” (77).

10 Likewise, my discussion of Who Would Have Thought It? registers the contingent nature of Ruiz de Burton’s feminist critique, where a spinster Yankee heroine goes to Washington to demand of Congress “a right” (146). Through this critique, Ruiz de Burton indicts a federal government distinguished by its hypocrisy, a sin she regionalizes as a Puritan fatal flaw. In both books, national identity develops from regional formations: Basil Ransom is a pale substitute for the “tatterdemalion darkies” who migrate north after the Civil War, the transplanted southerner who James uses to embody the nation’s “black” contradictions and in so doing, to defuse the immigrant threat.

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