The Femme Fatale in American Literature

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2015-09-14 02:02Z by Steven

The Femme Fatale in American Literature

Cambria Press
192 pages
5.5 x 8.5 in or 216 x 140 mm
ISBN: 9781604975352

Ghada Suleiman Sasa, Assistant Professor of English Literature
Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan

Characters in the literary tradition of American naturalism are usually perceived as passive, lacking in will, weak, and predetermined. They are constantly seen as the victims of heredity and environment, and their lives are shaped according to these strong forces that operate upon them.

This interesting book examines the representation of female characters in American naturalism and argues that women in American naturalism are often represented as femmes fatales. Since heredity and environment are the determining factors in their lives, they are victims who have no control. However, with characters such as Trina Sieppe in Frank Norris’s McTeague, Caroline Meeber in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and Helga Crane in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, these women victims gradually turn themselves into victimizers in order to conquer both heredity and environment. They consciously and deliberately use the only power they have that can help them overcome the naturalistic world in which they are entrapped––the power of the feminine.

The book explains who exactly the femme fatale that has been born out of American naturalism is, and explores images of women in American realism who precede the femme fatale of American naturalism. This study examines characters like Trina Sieppe, Caroline Meeber, Edna Pontellier, and Helga Crane. It analyzes these women’s backgrounds, their demeanors, their temperaments, their experiences, and their settings, and explains how and when each woman decides to use her sexuality. There is also a brief discussion of other femmes fatales in American naturalism, such as Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.

Although the perception of women in nineteenth-century American literature has always had its place in discussions of literary texts, this book is unique in its argument that women in American naturalism are neither weak nor passive, but rather are strong and daring women who try diligently to find a means of fighting back.

This book is an important addition to collections in literature and Women’s studies.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter One: The Femme Fatale in American Naturalism: An Introduction
    • Background and Definitions of the Femme Fatale
    • Background and Definitions of American Naturalism
    • The Femme Fatale and American Naturalism
  • Chapter Two: Trina “took her place in the operating chair”: Trina Sieppe as Femme Fatale in Frank Norris’s McTeague
    • The Emergence of the Femme Fatale
    • Trina Wins the Lottery
  • Chapter Three: “I am yours truly”: Caroline Meeber as Femme Fatale in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie
    • The Formulation of the Femme Fatale
    • The Femme Fatale in Full Action
    • The Fall of the Femme Fatale
    • Trina and Carrie
  • Chapter Four: “A language which nobody understood”: Edna Pontellier as Femme Fatale in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
    • The Imprisonment of Edna
    • Edna Breaks Free
    • McTeague, Sister Carrie, The Awakening: Trina, Carrie, and Edna
    • Edna’s suicide
  • Chapter Five: “It had begun, a new life for Helga Crane”: Helga Crane as Femme Fatale in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand
    • Twentieth Century American Naturalism
    • The Plight of the Tragic Mulatto Figure
    • Helga Crane’s Liberation
  • Chapter Six: Examples of Other Femmes Fatales in American Naturalism
  • Primary Bibliography
  • Secondary Bibliography
  • Index
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African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2015-09-13 20:34Z by Steven

African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World

Cambria Press
428 pages
6 x 9 in or 229 x 152 mm Case Laminate
ISBN: 9781604978926

Edited by:

Ana Lucia Araujo, Professor of History
Howard University, Washington, D.C.

This book explores the history of African tangible and intangible heritages and its links with the public memory of slavery in Brazil and Angola. The two countries are deeply connected, given how most enslaved Africans, forcibly brought to Brazil during the era of the Atlantic slave trade, were from West Central Africa. Brazil imported the largest number of enslaved Africans during the Atlantic slave trade and was the last country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery in 1888. Today, other than Nigeria, the largest population of African descent is in Brazil. Yet it was only in the last twenty years that Brazil’s African heritage and its slave past have gained greater visibility. Prior to this, Brazil’s African heritage and its slave past were completely neglected.

Even after the abolition of slavery in Brazil, African culture continued to be marginalized. Carnival, religious festivals, as well as Candomblé ceremonies, and capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian martial art) created important spaces of black assertion and insurgency. These cultural traditions were contested by white elites and public authorities, but starting in the 1930s, capoeira became a national symbol and Candomblé temples were gradually officially added to Brazil’s list of heritage sites.

In spite of these developments, the Atlantic slave past has remained absent from the public landscape of Brazilian and Angolan former slave ports, suggesting how difficult it is for these countries to address the painful legacies of slavery. African art and material culture also continued to be excluded from museums and other official institutions. In the rare instances that African artifacts were shown, they would be confined to only certain places dedicated to popular culture and associated with the religious sphere.

Even though public attention on slavery was growing internationally through national and international initiatives (e.g., The Slave Route Project by UNESCO), Brazil and Angola developed very few initiatives for the memorialization of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade. This has started to change slowly in the last decade as Brazil has begun engaging in more initiatives to memorialize slavery and underscore the importance of its African heritage.

Brazil’s slave past and African heritage are emerging gradually in urban and rural areas through different kinds of initiatives led not only by activists but also by scholars in association with black communities. Although in their early stages, most of these projects are permanent programs supported by official agencies. This new configuration suggests that––unlike the case in Angola––in Brazil, slavery and the Atlantic the slave trade are becoming recognized as foundational chapters of the country’s history.

This is the first book in English to focus on African heritage and public memory of slavery in Brazil and Angola. This interdisciplinary study examines visual images, dance, music, oral accounts, museum exhibitions, artifacts, monuments, festivals, and others forms of commemoration to illuminate the social and cultural dynamics that over the last twenty years have propelled––or prevented––the visibility of African heritage (and its Atlantic slave trade legacy) in the South Atlantic region.

The book makes a very important contribution to the understanding of the place of African heritage and slavery in the official history and public memory of Brazil and Angola, topics that remain understudied. The study’s focus on the South Atlantic world, a zone which is sparsely covered in the scholarly corpus on Atlantic history, will further research on other post-slave societies.

African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World is an important book for African studies and Latin American studies. It is especially valuable for African Diaspora studies, African history, Atlantic history, history of Brazil, history of slavery, and Caribbean history.

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures
  • Introduction: Wounded Pasts: Memory of Slavery and African Heritage in Brazil (Ana Lucia Araujo)
  • Chapter 1: Collectionism and Colonialism: The Africana Collection at Brazil’s National Museum (Rio de Janeiro) (Mariza de Carvalho Soares)
  • Chapter 2: Race and Visual Representation: Louis Agassiz and Hermann Burmeister (Maria Helena Machado)
  • Chapter 3: Counter-Witnessing the Visual Culture of Brazilian Slavery (Matthew Francis Rarey)
  • Chapter 4: Angola in Brazil: The Formation of Angoleiro identity in Bahia (Matthias Röhrig Assunção)
  • Chapter 5: Memories of Captivity and Freedom in São José da Serra Jongo Festivals: Cultural Heritage and Black Identity (1888–2011) (Martha Abreu and Hebe Mattos)
  • Chapter 6: From Public Amnesia to Public Memory: Re-Discovering Slavery Heritage in Rio de Janeiro (André Cicalo)
  • Chapter 7: Uncomfortable Pasts: Talking About Slavery in Angola (Marcia C. Schenck and Mariana P. Candido)
  • Chapter 8: “Bahia is a Closer Africa”: Brazilian Slavery and Heritage in African American Roots Tourism (Patricia de Santana Pinho)
  • Chapter 9: Preserving African Art, History, and Memory: The AfroBrazil Museum (Kimberly Cleveland)
  • Chapter 10: The Legacy of Slavery in Contemporary Brazil (Myrian Sepúlveda dos Santos)
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Contributors
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The Creole Elite and the Rise of Angolan Proto-Nationalism, 1870–1920

Posted in Africa, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2011-10-15 21:17Z by Steven

The Creole Elite and the Rise of Angolan Proto-Nationalism, 1870–1920

Cambria Press
340 pages
ISBN: 9781604975291

Jacopo Corrado

This book is about Angolan literature and culture. It investigates a segment of Angolan history and literature, with which even Portuguese-speaking readers are generally not familiar. Its main purpose is to define the features and the literary production of the so-called ‘creole elite’, as well as its contribution to the early manifestations of dissatisfaction towards colonial rule patent during a period of renewed Portuguese commitment to its African colonies, but also of unrealised ambitions, economic crisis, and socio-political upheaval in Angola and in Portugal itself.

Nineteenth-century Angolan society was characterised by the presence of a semi-urbanised commercial and administrative elite of Portuguese-speaking creole families––white, black, some of mixed race, some Catholic and others Protestant, some old established and others cosmopolitan––who were based in the main coastal towns.

As well as their wealth, derived from the functions performed in the colonial administrative, commercial and customs apparatus, their European-influenced culture and habits clearly distinguished them from the broad native population of black peasants and farm workers. In order to expand its control over the region, Portugal desperately needed the support of this kind of non-coloniser urban elite, which was also used as an assimilating force, or better as a source of dissemination of a relevant model of social behaviour. Thus, until the 1850s great creole merchants and inland chiefs dealt in captive slaves, bound for export to Brazil via Cape Verde and São Tomé: the tribal aristocracy and the creole bourgeoisie thrived on the profits of overseas trade and lived in style, consuming imported alcoholic beverages and wearing European clothes.

After the abolition, however, their social and economic position was eroded by an influx of petty merchants and bureaucrats from Portugal who wished to grasp the commercial and employment opportunities created by a new and modern colonial order, anxious to keep up with other European colonial powers engaged in the partition of the African continent.

This book thus considers the first intellectuals, the early printed publications in the country, and the pioneers of Angolan literature who felt the need to raise their roots to higher dignity. Thus, they wrote grammar, dictionaries, poetry, fiction, and of course, incendiary articles denouncing exploitation, racism, and the different treatment afforded by the colonial authorities to Portuguese expatriates and natives.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Cherished Myths
    • The greatest and most Portuguese overseas possession
    • Lusotropicalism
  • Chapter 2: The Intellectual Setting
    • The Luso-Atlantic cultural triangle
    • Brazil
    • Portugal
    • The literary and cultural influences
    • Diffusion
    • Association
  • Chapter 3: Luanda
    • The advent of modernity
    • Between journalism and literature
    • The new century: Hope and failure
  • Chapter 4: The ‘Creole’ Elite and Early ‘Nationalism’
    • The term ‘Creole’
    • The term ‘Nationalism’
  • References
  • Index
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The Latin American Identity and the African Diaspora: Ethnogenesis in Context

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2011-10-15 19:42Z by Steven

The Latin American Identity and the African Diaspora: Ethnogenesis in Context

Cambria Press
360 pages
ISBN: 9781604977042

Antonio Olliz-Boyd, Emeritus Professor of Latin American Literature
Temple University

Just beneath the surface of most scholars’ research on the ethno-racial composition of Spanish-speaking America lies a definitive connection between the African Diaspora and the Latin American identity. Although to a lesser extent, this is also true of Portuguese-speaking Brazil—the existence of African-related people and their role as an integral part of the total Latin ethnicity currently appears to be more readily accepted and discussed in Brazil than in other Latin American countries. Afro-Peruvians, Afro-Colombians, Afro-Venezuelans, Afro-Uruguayans, or Afro-Mexicans—to name just a few—are rarely openly acknowledged in most of Spanish-speaking Latin America. However, one cannot deny that African slavery was a fact of life in all the territories colonized and settled by Spain and Portugal in the Americas, and with this, of course, came widespread miscegenation between the European male and the subjugated African female.

More than likely, because of the diversity of racial features, most non-natives do not see the extent to which Latin America’s genetic amalgam can often mask the phenotypic effects of race-mixing. As a result, many researchers and scholars of the area are reluctant to divulge that someone is a descendant of African forebears because doing so might run the risk of one being considered politically incorrect or having debased that person’s character. Whereas in the United States there is little to no stigma attached to the president’s African ancestry, for any president of a Latin American country, one cannot overtly attribute a genetic link to African heritage.

There is extensive research found both in books and articles on the various topics of Afro Latinism/Afro Hispanism that is directed mainly at the non-native. Nonetheless, one still notices either cultural confusion or political reluctance to accept the identity of Blackness that the Latin American native lives with—for himself or for others—on a daily basis. For the average Cuban, Venezuelan, Peruvian, and so forth, along with their Latin counterparts, Blackness in racial terms surfaces as a matter of degrees of African-relatedness that is then counterbalanced by degrees of European and/or Amerindian genomic components. It is only in non-native cultures that one encounters such disparate comparisons as “statistics for Hispanics versus statistics for Blacks.” But is it not possible to find persons that are ethnoracially Black included in the demographics for Hispanics?

The overarching aim of this book, then, is to determine whether it is possible to perceive a constituency within the Latin American whole who is also an integral part of the African Diaspora. It examines the concept of African-relatedness within the totality of the Latin American sphere—not just in one isolated country or region—through a careful process of literary analysis. By exploring the works of Latin American novelists, poets, and lyricists, this study shows how they creatively expose their most intimate feelings on ethnic Blackness through a semiotic reliance on the inner voice. At the same time, the reader becomes a witness to the writers’ associations with a sense of Africanness as it artistically affects them and their communities in their formulations of self-identity.

Unique to this volume is the scholarly presentation of the presence of a group of people in Ghana, West Africa, who owe their raison d’être as a clan to their ancestral origins in Brazil. Having been accepted and received by an endemic tribe of what was called the Gold Coast at an historical moment in the nineteenth century, a community of escaped slaves and deported ex-slaves from Brazilian bondage regrouped as an ethnic whole. The reality of their existence gives new meaning to the term African Diaspora. To this day, their descendants identify themselves as displaced Latin Americans in Africa. Undoubtedly, both this surprising feature of Latin Americans returning to the African continent and the book as a whole will stimulate further discussion on the issue of who is Black and who is Hispanic as well as generate continued, in-depth research on the relationship between two continents and their shared genotypology.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • Essay I: Aesthetic Blackness in the Creative Literature of the Latin/Hispanic Reality
  • Essay II: The Aesthetics of Language as an Experience of the Afro Latin/Afro Hispanic Reality
  • Essay III: An Aesthetic Experience: The Reality of Phenotypes and Racial Awareness in Dominican Literature (Julia Alvarez and Loida Maritza Pérez)
  • Introduction to Essay IV
  • Essay IV: A Latin Identity, An African Experience: The Tabom Brazilians of Ghana
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Index
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