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Black MarketThe Slave's Value in National Culture after 1865$
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Aaron Carico

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469655581

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469655581.001.0001

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Southern Enclosure as American Literature

Southern Enclosure as American Literature

Chapter:
(p.138) Chapter Four Southern Enclosure as American Literature
Source:
Black Market
Author(s):

Aaron Carico

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469655581.003.0005

Set against the backdrop of Southern land grabs in the 1830s and again in the 1930s that were meant to sustain the cotton economy, this chapter studies the literary representation of the poor whites who were side-lined by the slave plantation’s expansion and modernization, and who were then remade into a national folk by literary elites. Facilitated by these Southern enclosures, the ambivalent canonization of poor whites as the nation’s folk would have a decisive and determining influence on the constitution—and the racial covenant—of American literature, and not only on its Americaness but also on its literariness. Slavery was the condition of possibility for this literature, but its role, along with that of the enslaved, was silenced. From frontier humor to the New Criticism, this chapter reveals a submerged racial history beneath the canonization of U.S. national literature, which was undertaken in the early twentieth century in U.S. literary criticism, explainingthe roleof New Deal photography, of paper money and paperwork, and modernism in literary style in the constitution of American literature as both discipline and object.

Keywords:   National literature, Literary criticism, Literary style, Frontier humor, New Deal, New Criticism, Paper money, Paperwork, Poor whites, National folk

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