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Imperfect Unions

Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction

Diana Rebekkah Paulin
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Imperfect Unions
    Book Description:

    Imperfect Unions examines the vital role that nineteenth- and twentieth-century dramatic and literary enactments played in the constitution and consolidation of race in the U.S. Diana Rebekkah Paulin investigates how these representations produced, and were produced by, the black–white binary that informed them in a wide variety of texts written across the period between the Civil War and World War I.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8017-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION. Setting the Stage: The Black–White Binary in an Imperfect Union
    (pp. ix-xxviii)

    Here in the united states, the black–white encounter overshadows the complex national and transnational web of relations between and among the racially and ethnically diverse populations that came into play between the Civil War and World War I. Across this potent half century of history, an intimate relationship between a black person and a white person was one of America’s greatest preoccupations. Though such unions were relatively rare, they occupied center stage in American thinking. For the men and women daring enough to cross the color line, they offered both the promises and pitfalls of any relationship, but with...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Under the Covers of Forbidden Desire: Interracial Unions as Surrogates
    (pp. 1-50)

    Almost two centuries before the term “miscegenation” was coined, in the earliest years of English settlement in North America, interracial marriages between black men and white women were permissible by law. Although interracial unions were not commonplace in the seventeenth century, they were allowed; black and white couples lived together openly, and raised children together, and at times were even accepted by the communities in which they lived. As historians have noted, as long as the institution of slavery remained legal, the racial structure as it existed remained relatively stable, which made certain types of black–white unions less threatening.¹...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Clear Definitions for an Anxious World: Late Nineteenth-Century Surrogacy
    (pp. 51-98)

    The 1893 world’s columbian exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, was a fascinating display of the United States’ sense of self, the country’s dreams and fears, and the ways it wanted to project itself, just before the turn of the twentieth century. As both a domestic and global event, the World’s Fair ushered the United States onto the international stage as a (re)unified, and emergent, political and economic global power at the very moment when it was reconstituting its racial, political, and economic policies internally to absorb and anticipate dramatic shifts in population. It also illustrated just how...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Staging the Unspoken Terror
    (pp. 99-140)

    Between 1897 and 1898, the very public interracial clash between Alexander Manly, an outspoken African American journalist, and white reformer Rebecca Latimer Felton offers an instructive example of the ways in which the meanings of miscegenation were reconfigured as a staging ground for the articulation of interrelated cultural, political, and economic concerns following failed Reconstruction and the reentrenchment of the black–white binary as the nineteenth century approached its final curtain.¹ Their public sparring took place in the menacing shadow of thePlessy v. FergusonSupreme Court decision. This 1896 case cemented into law the division of society into two...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Remix: Afro-Indian Intimacies
    (pp. 141-186)

    As the united states continued its slide into legal segregation, the opening years of the twentieth century witnessed a quieter, but no less significant phenomena: the explosion of the black uplift movement. During the post–Civil War period, black migration out of the rural South to southern cities, the North, and the West was slow but steady, especially since Reconstruction had afforded blacks some sense of political and social agency. Between 1890 and 1900, rapid industrialization in the urban South created new urban employment opportunities for blacks, evidenced by a 31 percent increase in black employment in domestic and personal...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Futurity of Miscegenation
    (pp. 187-228)

    Like many of their fellow artists, intellectuals, and activists living well before and after the celebrated “modern” period known as the Harlem Renaissance, Pauline Hopkins and James Weldon Johnson employed the cultural arena to showcase and evaluate the progress that blacks and other marginalized communities had made thus far and would continue to make. As African American cultural emissaries to the nation and to the world, Hopkins and Johnson (both literally and figuratively) translated and promoted their representations of black expressive culture, politics, and history. In doing so, they explored how the complex rhetorics of blood, sex, nation, and race...

  9. CONCLUSION. The “Sex Factor” and Twenty-First-Century Stagings of Miscegenation
    (pp. 229-242)

    To conclude our story at the beginning of the twentieth century does not suggest a resolution to the “problem” of miscegenation, or to the endless conflicts that mark the representations of our great (trans) national taboo. Instead, the start of a new century marks a new departure; our discussion of the half century between the Civil War and World War I lays a foundation, I hope, for continued explorations of these issues across the landscape of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. As James Weldon Johnson reminds us in his autobiographical musings about “the American race problem” cited above,...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 243-246)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 247-290)
  12. Index
    (pp. 291-315)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 316-316)