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 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 became entangled with occultist phenomena, from the rituals of the Klu Klux Klan and the concept of messianic second-sight to the production of conspiracy theories and studies of dreams and trances.
A work of ambitious scope and compelling cross-connections, "Blood Talk" sets new agendas for students of American literature and culture. Illustrations