The 1992 Quincentennial of the encounter between the New World and the Old resulted in a veritable culture war - an extreme polarization of hardened ideological positions on different ideas of America. Monsters, Tricksters, and Sacred Cows brings a fresh perspective to the confusing question of American identity. It clears the minefields laid by the generals commanding the opposing camps, while demonstrating that both sides have been primarily interested in protecting and defending an idea of "Americanness" that cannot resist scrutiny. Some of the leading international scholars in anthropology, comparative literature, and history of the Americas show convincingly in this book that contacts between and among peoples and ethnic groups have, since early colonial times, produced new - and typically American - cultural forms throughout the hemisphere. Monsters, Tricksters, and Sacred Cows will appeal to the general reader and will attract a wide readership in folklore and cultural anthropology as well as in Caribbean and Latin American studies, comparative literature, and history.
A. James Arnold is Professor of French and Director of Graduate Studies, New World Studie, at the University of Virginia. His other books include Paul Valery and His Critics; "Les Mots" de Sartre: Genese et critique d'une autobiographie; and Modernism and Negritude: The Poetry and Poetics of Aime Cesaire.