By Holly Jackson
Traditional understandings of the relations in nineteenth-century literary stories depict a commemorated establishment rooted in sentiment, sympathy, and intimacy. American Blood upends this proposal, exhibiting how novels of the interval often emphasize the darker aspects of the vaunted household unit. instead of a resource of safeguard and heat, the kinfolk emerges as exclusionary, deleterious to civic lifestyles, and adverse to the political company of the USA.
Through artistic readings supported by way of cultural-historical learn, Holly Jackson explores serious depictions of the kin in various either canonical and forgotten novels. Republican competition to the generational transmission of estate in early the USA emerges in Nathaniel Hawthorne's the home of the Seven Gables (1851). The "tragic mulatta" trope in William Wells Brown's Clotel (1853) is published as a metaphor for sterility and nationwide dying, linking mid-century theories of hybrid infertility to anxieties in regards to the nation's drawback of political continuity. A extraordinary interpretation of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Dred (1856) occupies a next bankruptcy, as Jackson uncovers how the writer such a lot linked to the enshrinement of family kinship deconstructs either clinical and nostalgic conceptions of the kinfolk. a spotlight on feminist perspectives of maternity and the kin anchor readings of Anna E. Dickinson's What resolution? (1868) and Sarah Orne Jewett's the rustic of the Pointed Firs (1896), whereas a bankruptcy on Pauline Hopkins's Hagar's Daughter (1901) examines the way it engages with socio-scientific discourses of black atavism to reveal the family's position no longer easily as a metaphor for the country but in addition because the mechanism for the copy of its unequal social relations.
Cogently argued, truly written, and anchored in unconventional readings, American Blood provides a sequence of full of life arguments that might curiosity literary students and historians of the relations, because it unearths how nineteenth-century novels imagine-even welcome-the decline of the relations and the social order that it helps.
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Extra info for American Blood: The Ends of the Family in American Literature, 1850-1900
Hopkins and Chesnutt indict the family’s institutional role not simply as a metaphor for the nation but also as the mechanism for the reproduction of its unequal social relations, formulating a genealogical theory of American racism. Considering the lifespan of the Long Bridge meme in American print culture, this final chapter examines the potential of literature as an alternative medium of cultural transmission that, as Michael Warner has suggested, might serve as a mode of affiliation and continuity beyond the family.
21 Although Fitzhugh is a particularly extreme example, his denunciation of Jeffersonian ideals gives voice to currents of his time that were not limited to such notorious reactionaries. My Introduction offers the example of Daniel Webster’s 1820 oration at Plymouth, which boasts proudly of the founding generation’s political accomplishment in reforming inheritance, but then narrates the conversion of this paradigm into a conception of the nation as property descending lineally from the Pilgrim settlers.
33 In narrating the most radical character’s turn to conservatism, the novel itself loses its radical character, restoring family relation as the most powerful guarantor of “the peaceful practice of society,” signified by the survival and orderly transmission of property (306–307). Holgrave’s sudden ideological shift mirrors the nineteenth-century abandonment of the republican stance against the antidemocratic effects of inheritance. This conclusion allows family inheritance to be recast in a positive light, abruptly silencing all the concerns about its antidemocratic repercussions.