Download Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture by Werner Sollors PDF

By Werner Sollors

Not anything is "pure" in the United States, and, certainly, the wealthy ethnic combine that constitutes our society debts for far of its extraordinary power. Werner Sollors's new ebook takes a wide-ranging examine the function of "ethnicity" in American literature and what that literature has said--and keeps to say--about our diversified tradition. Ethnic attention, he contends, is a constituent function of modernism, no longer modernism's antithesis. Discussing works from each interval of yankee background, Sollors focuses rather at the rigidity among "descent" and "consent"--between the worry for one's racial, ethnic, and familial historical past and the conflicting wish to select one's personal future, no matter if that selection is going opposed to one's background. the various tales Sollors examines are retellings of the biblical Exodus--stories within which americans of the main diversified origins have painted their very own histories as an break out from bondage or a look for a brand new Canaan. different tales are "American-made" stories of melting-pot romance, that can both triumph in intermarriage, observed through new global symphonies, or finish with the enthusiasts' loss of life. nonetheless different tales difficulty voyages of self-discovery within which the hero makes an attempt to guide a dangerous path among obdurate traditionalism and overall assimilation. after which there are the generational sagas, during which, as though by way of magic, the 3rd iteration emerges because the achievement in their forebears' dream. bringing up examples that variety from the writings of Cotton Mather to Liquid Sky (a "post-punk" technology fiction movie directed via a Russian emigre), Sollors indicates how the creators of yank tradition have as a rule been drawn to what's so much new and glossy. A provocative and unique examine "ethnicity" in American literature ·Covers tales from all sessions of our nation's historical past ·Relates ethnic literature to the primary of literary modernism ·"Grave and hilarious, delicate and merciless...The publication plays a public service."-Quentin Anderson

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Extra resources for Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture

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As the example of the Pharisee's prayer suggests, the negative separation from publican otherness is subject to New Testament injunction. The process may thus be inverted and give way to a more or less overt admiration for the other. The new motto is: If only we could be like them! When Cotton Mather described the Algonquian Indians in his "Life of John Eliot" (1702), he was torn between a contempt for their "barbarous" way of living and an admiration for their "extraordinary Ease in Childbirth" (Miller, Puritans 505).

In the second volume, The Status System of a Modern Community (1942), Warner and Lunt used the noun "ethnicity" several times (5, 66), often in parallel constructions with other nouns, and sometimes even in quotation marks. For example: ... we shall look upon "ethnicity" as one of the several characteristics which modify the social system and are modified by it. The other characteristics to be considered are age, sex, and religion. (73) 24 BEYOND ETHNICITY This is the Kunta Kinte of ethnicity scholarship!

America is a country which, from the times of Cotton Mather to the present, has placed great emphasis on consent at the expense of descent definitions. The widely shared public bias against hereditary privilege—which Wendell detected in John Cotton's argument — has strongly favored achieved rather than ascribed identity, and supported "self-determination" and "independence" from ancestral, parental, and external definitions. Yet precisely the same cultural framework had room for, and needed, slavery, even years after most old-world countries had abolished it.

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