English Language and Literature ETDs

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In Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, Mary Louise Pratt coined the term "contact zones," which she defined as "social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination-like colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out across the globe today" (4). The United States of America has a dismal history of racially violent encounters between Anglos and indigenous populations, with other settlers, and those who immigrated there. Many of America's practices, policies, and historical events provide evidence of acts spurred by racism against non-Anglo groups, but evidence of this also exists throughout US media sources. Specifically, from the middle of the nineteenth century to its close, the majority of mass print media written by and controlled by the Anglo American population reveals an excess of discussion and debate regarding non-Anglo races, their places in Anglo society, and how to answer the race 'question' of each non-Anglo group. Yet, while violent rhetoric encouraging racially charged mass murder from newspapers and novels dominated the Anglo publishing industry, several non-Anglo American authors used the Anglo publishing industry during the latter half of the nineteenth century to resist the dominant narratives of the time. In effect, these authors challenge what Gerald Vizenor refers to in Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance as the 'literature of dominance' (3). This dissertation considers minority author use of the Anglo publishing industry to respond to the lies and misrepresentations of minorities, racially charged events, and violent encounters printed regularly in newspapers, novels, and other forms of US print media, locally and nationally, with the aim of exposing and excoriating racially charged mass murders of minority groups. These authors achieved this goal both through newspaper articles and through the inclusion of newspaper articles in their literary texts in order to debunk the falsehoods perpetuated by the numerous Anglo publishers at the time, but also through the re-telling of events as minority groups saw and experienced them. In turn, I argue each text works to challenge Anglo readers' apathy and willing acceptance of such misinformation by enacting various forms of survivance in order to repudiate the victimry that popular Anglo novels of the time depicted in order to perpetuate societal norms and expectations. This includes works by Charles Chesnutt, S. Alice Callahan, and John Rollin Ridge. Finally, I look at Chinese American responses to calls for their extermination and forced deportation/exclusion throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. Chinese Americans went directly to Anglo-dominant yet friendly newspapers to refute the numerous fabrications many American newspapers printed. These include responses from Norman Asing (Sang Yuen), and Hab Wa and Tong A-chick, as they set the precedent for Chinese American response, as well as Kwang Chang Ling, Yan Phou Lee, and Lee Chew, several of whom wrote in response to Dennis Kearney's extreme anti-Chinese movement in California.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Aleman, Jesse

Second Committee Member

Jussawalla, Feroza

Third Committee Member

Vizenor, Gerald




multi ethnic nineteenth American literature, newspapers, racism

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