Space for Speculation: American Fictions of Racial Futures
Fiorelli, Julie A.
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines works of speculative American literature that envision the racial order of the future U.S. as radically different from their authors’ present. Surfacing at moments of national crisis from the turn of the twentieth century through the end of the Civil Rights era, these texts imaginatively reshape the nation through the spatial logics of subgenres of speculative fiction. This dissertation argues that these spatial logics reveal racial anxieties and hopes driving this national reshaping, and the contemporaneous realities they crystallize. They show the formation of American national racial identity within a co-constitutive tension between economic, political, and social factors at home and imperialist expansion abroad. Rather than seeking neat resolutions in these texts, which are often bizarre, apparently illogical, or incomplete, this dissertation inquires into what these speculative texts disclose about the push and pull among material conditions, the ideological functions and constraints of genres, and authorial attempts to project the future. Structuring this dissertation are three historical flashpoints of national struggle and genres in which speculations on the racial future predominate in those periods: lost-race romance and utopian novels of the turn of the twentieth century, spy fictions of the 1930s and 1940s, and apocalyptic race-war novels of the late 1960s. Over the course of the dissertation, the author discusses the shifting roles that particular racialized groups represented in these genres have played in the formation of American national identity, examining Native American racialization at the turn of the twentieth century, Asian American racialization from the 1890s through the 1940s, and the changing status of blackness and whiteness across the lifespan of Jim Crow. Authors whose work is examined in this study include Pauline Hopkins, Walter Hugh McDougall, Edward Bellamy, Ignatius Donnelly, Arthur Bird, Edward Johnson, Albert Nelson, George Schuyler, Chester Himes, John Williams, and Sam Greenlee.
African American literature
Date available in INDIGO2015-10-21T14:16:45Z