By Margaret Crumpton Winter
American Narratives takes readers again to the flip of the 20 th century to reintroduce 4 writers of various ethnic backgrounds whose works have been in most cases neglected through critics in their day. With the ability of a literary detective, Molly Crumpton iciness recovers an early multicultural discourse on assimilation and nationwide belonging that has been principally ignored through literary students.
At the center of the publication are shut readings of works through 4 approximately forgotten artists from 1890 to 1915, the period usually termed the age of realism: Mary Antin, a Jewish American immigrant from Russia; Zitkala-Ša, a Sioux girl initially from South Dakota; Sutton E. Griggs, an African American from the South; and Sui Sin some distance, a biracial, chinese language American woman author who lived at the West Coast. Winter's remedy of Antin's The Promised Land serves as an get together for a reexamination of the concept that of assimilation in American literature, and the bankruptcy on Zitkala-Ša is the main accomplished research of her narratives to this point. wintry weather argues persuasively that Griggs must have lengthy been a extra obvious presence in American literary historical past, and the exploration of Sui Sin some distance finds her to be the embodiment of the various and unpredictable ways in which range of cultures got here jointly in America.
In American Narratives, wintry weather continues that the writings of those 4 rediscovered authors, with their emphasis on problems with ethnicity, id, and nationality, healthy squarely within the American realist culture. She additionally establishes a multiethnic discussion between those writers, demonstrating ways that cultural id and nationwide belonging are peristently contested during this literature.
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Additional resources for American Narratives: Multiethnic Writing in the Age of Realism
A dislike for Antin’s assimilationist message seems to underlie most of Mary Antin and Assimilation 37 the late twentieth-century criticism about the book. Antin is faulted for her unquestioning acceptance of all things American, as well as her lack of loyalty to her Jewish heritage. 8 While the concept of assimilation is now slighted in favor of diversity and the preservation of cultural heritage, it is important to read Antin in a pre-modernist context. In her day, Antin was inﬂuenced by two schools of thought.
There are other dimensions to Antin’s narrative, however, that belie her claims that the process of assimilation is ever easy or complete. These elements connect Antin’s autobiography to other texts in the twentieth century, in which the desire for integration is often met with social, economic, and cultural barriers. Antin’s exploration of her ethnicity and the history of her people also aligns her book with multiethnic literary themes later in the century. Antin was one of the ﬁrst writers to portray the division that immigrants experience between the world of their past and their new American lives.
Her text is appealing for the passionate way she claims her American identity: “For the country was for all the citizens, and I was a Citizen. And when we stood up to sing ‘America,’ I shouted the words with all my might. I was in very earnest proclaiming to the world my love for my new-found country” (77). Such aﬃrmative declarations serve as powerful testimonies to the Americanizing process. When viewed as a story of unhindered assimilation—in which freedom, education, the English language, and American history and values are successively acquired—Antin’s narrative reinforces the type of Americanization that has long been celebrated in the nation’s history.