Redefining American Identity: From Cabeza de Vaca to Barack Obama

Hardcover | March 15, 2011

byBenjamin Railton

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In Redefining American Identity Ben Railton emphasizes, in contrast to both traditional and multicultural narratives, a third possibility for what has been at the core of the American experience since the first moments of contact: cross-cultural transformation, the process by which individuals and groups with relatively fixed cultural identities experience complex shifts across or toward new ones. Railton examines the personal narratives of six individuals who experienced such transformations, each taken from one century of post-contact America, from the explorer Cabeza de Vaca to the poet Gloria E. Anzaldúa to President Barack Obama.

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In Redefining American Identity Ben Railton emphasizes, in contrast to both traditional and multicultural narratives, a third possibility for what has been at the core of the American experience since the first moments of contact: cross-cultural transformation, the process by which individuals and groups with relatively fixed cultural ...

Ben Railton is Assistant Professor of English and the inaugural Coordinator of American Studies at Fitchburg State University. He is the author of Contesting the Past, Reconstructing the Nation: American Literature and Culture in the Gilded Age, 1876-1893 (2007) and of articles on Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner, novelist-narra...

other books by Benjamin Railton

Format:HardcoverDimensions:200 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 inPublished:March 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230112064

ISBN - 13:9780230112063

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Table of Contents

Defining Transformations  * Transformative Explorations: Cabeza de Vaca Changes His Skin * Unsettling Transformations: Mary Rowlandson’s Removes * Revolutionary Transformations: Olaudah Equiano’s Fortunate Vicissitudes * Transformative Expansions: Sarah Winnemucca’s Ideal Interpretations * Transformative Mixtures: Gloria Anzaldúa’s Hybrid Mosaic * Electing Transformation

Editorial Reviews

“Benjamin Railton’s book offers a novel framework for understanding the formation of individual and national identity. Railton’s approach is fresh and compelling, and his textual readings are nuanced and persuasive. In all, the book contributes significantly to the scholarship in a variety of disciplines and interdisciplines, including American and ethnic studies, American literature, and American history.”—David S. Goldstein, Director of the Teaching and Learning Center and Senior Lecturer of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell “There’s much to admire in the details of Ben Railton’s book, the illuminating analyses of figures as diverse as the early explorer Cabeza de Vaca and the American President Barack Obama, the surprising links Railton finds among those figures. But there’s still more to admire in the way Railton has defined his large topic of American identity, the freshness and capaciousness of that definition. Sometimes defining a topic is itself a significant intellectual accomplishment, and that’s what it is here; Railton’s definition will help us understand where we live.”—Lawrence Rosenwald, Professor of English, Wellesley College