The Literature of Reconstruction: Not in Plain Black and White

The Literature of Reconstruction: Not in Plain Black and White

By: Brook Thomas (author)Hardback

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In this powerful book, Brook Thomas revisits the contested era of Reconstruction. He evokes literature's immediacy to recreate arguments still unresolved today about state versus federal authority, the government's role in education, the growing power of banks and corporations, the paternalism of social welfare, efforts to combat domestic terrorism, and the difficult question of who should rightly inherit the nation's past. Literature, Thomas argues, enables us to re-experience how Reconstruction was-and remains-a moral, economic, and political debate about which world should have emerged after the Civil War to mark the birth of a new nation. Drawing on neglected nineteenth-century historiographies and recent scholarship that extends the dates of Reconstruction in time while stretching its geographic reach beyond the South, The Literature of Reconstruction uses literary works to trace the complicated interrelations among the era's forces. Thomas also explores how these works bring into dialogue competing visions of possible worlds through chapters on reconciliation, federalism, the Ku Klux Klan, railroads, and inheritance. He contrasts well-known writers, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Thomas Dixon, and Charles W. Chesnutt, with relatively neglected ones, including Albion W. Tourgee, Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton, and Constance Fenimore Woolson. Some authors opposed Reconstruction; others supported it; and still others struggled with mixed feelings. The world Thomas conjures up in this groundbreaking new study is one in which successful remedies to racial wrongs remain to be imagined.

About Author

Brook Thomas is a Chancellor's Professor of English at the University of California-Irvine. He is the author of Civic Myths: A Law-and-Literature Approach to Citizenship and American Literary Realism and the Failed Promise of Contract.


List of illustrationsWorks Cited: Abbreviations Not in Plain Black and White 1Reconciliation and Reunion: Clasping Hands over the Bloody Chasm 57Federalism: Thinking Nationally, Acting Locally 129The Ku Klux Klan: The Necessity of Extreme Measures 199Of Mules and Men: African American Manhood and the Paradox of Paternalism 270Ruiz de Burton and Railroads: The Westward Course of Reconstruction 338Working with the Inheritance of the Old South 402Inheriting a Shadow and a Dream 464 Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781421421322
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 400
  • ID: 9781421421322
  • weight: 703
  • ISBN10: 1421421321

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