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Race Mixture in Nineteenth-Century U.S. and Spanish American Fictions

Gender, Culture, and Nation Building

By Debra J. Rosenthal

192 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5564-5
    Published: October 2004
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7595-7
    Published: October 2005

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Race mixture has played a formative role in the history of the Americas, from the western expansion of the United States to the political consolidation of emerging nations in Latin America. Debra J. Rosenthal examines nineteenth-century authors in the United States and Spanish America who struggled to give voice to these contemporary dilemmas about interracial sexual and cultural mixing.

Rosenthal argues that many literary representations of intimacy or sex took on political dimensions, whether advocating assimilation or miscegenation or defending the status quo. She also examines the degree to which novelists reacted to beliefs about skin differences, blood taboos, incest, desire, or inheritance laws. Rosenthal discusses U.S. authors such as James Fenimore Cooper, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Walt Whitman, William Dean Howells, and Lydia Maria Child as well as contemporary novelists from Cuba, Peru, and Ecuador, such as Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, Clorinda Matto de Turner, and Juan León Mera. With her multinational approach, Rosenthal explores the significance of racial hybridity to national and literary identity and participates in the wider scholarly effort to broaden critical discussions about America to include the Americas.

About the Author

Debra J. Rosenthal is associate professor of English at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. She has edited or coedited several books, including Mixing Race, Mixing Culture: Inter-American Literary Dialogues and A Routledge Literary Sourcebook on Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
For more information about Debra J. Rosenthal, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"A carefully researched book that deals with theoretical matters across various disciplines. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"Rosenthal's book is interesting and timely. Comparative studies of U.S. and Latin American literature are important as well as relatively rare, considering the wealth of material and the historical parallels."--Renata Wasserman, Wayne State University