Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 by Michele BirnbaumRace, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 by Michele Birnbaum

Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930

byMichele Birnbaum

Paperback | November 4, 2009

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Race, Work and Desire analyses literary representations of work relationships across the colour-line from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. Michele Birnbaum examines inter-racial bonds in fiction and literary correspondence by black and white authors and artists - including Elizabeth Keckley, Frances E. W. Harper, W. D. Howells, Grace King, Kate Chopin, Langston Hughes, Amy Spingarn and Carl Van Vechten - exploring the way servants and employers, doctors and patients, and patrons and artists negotiate their racial differences for artistic and political ends. Situating these relationships in literary and cultural context, Birnbaum argues that the literature reveals the complexity of cross-racial relations in the workplace, which, although often represented as an oasis of racial harmony, is in fact the very site where race politics are most fiercely engaged. This study productively complicates current debates about cross-racial collaboration in American literary and race studies, and will be of interest to scholars in both literary and cultural studies.
Title:Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 9.02 × 5.98 × 0.47 inPublished:November 4, 2009Publisher:Cambridge University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0521120195

ISBN - 13:9780521120197


Table of Contents

Illustrations; Acknowledgments; Introduction: Working relations and racial desire; 1. Dressing down the first lady: Elizabeth Keckley's Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House; 2. Off-color patients in Frances E. W. Harper's Iola Leroy and W. D. Howells' An Imperative Duty; 3. 'Alien hands' in Kate Chopin's The Awakening; 4. 'For blood that is not yours': Langston Hughes and the art of patronage; Epilogue: 'Co-workers in the kingdom of culture'.

Editorial Reviews

"Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 is a well-written, well-conceived analysis of texts and relationships that explore and critique the possibility of intimacy across the black-white color line. The intimacy that Birnbaum explores here, however, is not that, which occurs in the bedroom, except insofar as bedrooms are places of work for domestic servants. Rather Birnbaum is most interested in postbellum and early twentieth-century representations of intimacy that occur in the context of work or labor. Her goal here is to historicize interracial intimacy in order to reveal how even apparently ideal relations across the color line have never fully escaped their contexts of domination and subordination. Race, Work, and Desire stands as an important contribution to that growing body of scholarly work that is revising the history of American literary along the color line." Kenneth Warren, University of Chicago