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Dislocating Race & NationEpisodes in Nineteenth-Century American Literary Nationalism$
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Robert S. Levine

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832264

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887882_levine

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Circulating the Nation

Circulating the Nation

David Walker, the Missouri Compromise, and the Appeals of Black Literary Nationalism

(p.67) 2 Circulating the Nation
Dislocating Race & Nation

Robert S. Levine

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter argues that the debates on the Missouri Compromise were crucial to the development of African American literary nationalism during the 1820s and 1830s because they had a pronounced influence on the development of a more broadly conceived American literary nationalism. As was the case during the 1790s and early 1800s, U.S. nationalism remained highly conflicted and contingent, and it therefore would be mistaken to say that there emerged a clear and distinctive “national narrative,” as Jonathan Arac terms it, informed by “an American ideology … that was played out … by the national expansion that brought the United States all the way to the Pacific coast and threatened to go further into Central America and the Caribbean.” The Missouri crisis made clear that there was no single “American ideology” at this time but instead fiercely contested notions of what such an ideology might be.

Keywords:   Missouri Compromise, African American, literary nationalism, U.S. nationalism, national narrative, Jonathan Arac

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