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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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Genealogical Fictions

Genealogical Fictions

Melville and Hannah Crafts in Hawthorne's House

Chapter:
(p.119) 3 Genealogical Fictions
Source:
Dislocating Race & Nation
Author(s):

Robert S. Levine

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807887882_levine.7

This chapter presents an examination of Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, Melville's Pierre, and Hannah Crafts's The Bondwoman's Narrative—all of which can be read as responses to the cultural nationalism of the 1840s and 1850s, and its attendant racist and expansionist ideologies. These novels expose the pure white bloodlines touted by white nationalists as little more than fictions, thereby encouraging readers, as Brown does in Clotel, to develop a skeptical relationship to mythified stories of foundings and transmissions, especially as those stories are put to the service of making contemporary hierarchies seem logical, just, and destined. To be sure, works such as The House of the Seven Gables and Pierre, which focus so intensively on white characters, are not immediately thought of in relation to debates on slavery and race.

Keywords:   Hawthorne, Melville, Hannah Crafts, cultural nationalism, expansionist ideologies

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