Blood Talk: American Race Melodrama and the Culture of the Occult

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 245 pages
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The United States has seldom known a period of greater social and cultural volatility, especially in terms of race relations, than the years from the end of Reconstruction to the First World War. In this highly original study, Susan Gillman explores the rise during this period of a remarkable genre—the race melodrama—and the way in which it converged with literary trends, popular history, fringe movements, and mainstream interest in supernatural phenomena.

Blood Talk shows how race melodrama emerged from abolitionist works such as Uncle Tom's Cabin and surprisingly manifested itself in a set of more aesthetically and politically varied works, such as historical romances, sentimental novels, the travel literature of Mark Twain, the regional fiction of Kate Chopin and George Washington Cable, and the work of W. E. B. Du Bois. Gillman then uses the race melodrama to show how racial discourses in the United States have been entangled with occultist phenomena, from the rituals of the Ku Klux Klan and the concept of messianic second-sight to the production of conspiracy theories and studies of dreams and trances.

 

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Contents

AMERICAN RACE MELODRAMAS IN THE CULTURE OF THE OCCULT An Introduction
xiii
PAULINE HOPKINS AND BLOOD TALK Revising Racial Science Telling Race History in Maternal Melodramas
32
PROCRUSTEAN BEDFELLOWS? Black Nationalism and White Supremacy at the Turn of the Century
73
MARK TWAIN AND FELLOW OCCULT TRAVELERS
117
W E B DU BOIS AND OCCULT HISTORY
148
THE POLITICS OF OCCULT TIME OR BUT IS IT ANY GOOD?
200
NOTES
207
INDEX
237
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Susan Gillman is a professor of literature and American studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Dark Twins: Imposture and Identity in Mark Twain's America and coeditor of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson: Race, Conflict, and Culture.

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