Pocahontas's daughters: gender and ethnicity in American culture

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Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1986 - Literary Criticism - 266 pages
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When Pocahontas, America's first "ethnic" heroine, laid her head over John Smith's to save him from her father, she also unknowingly lay down certain themes that would permeate America's female ethnic literary tradition and culture from that moment on. Using the figure of Pocahontas as a representative symbol or story in the American cultural imagination, this is the first study to examine American women's fiction--from Our Nig by Mrs. H.E.W. Wilson, the first novel by a black woman, to the writings of Anzia Yezierska, Gertrude Stein, and Toni Morrison--in terms of gender and ethnicity, terms that Dearborn finds essential to our understanding of American culture. Pocahontas left no "authentic" written record of herself, a fact that Dearborn uses to launch her wide-ranging discussion of the problems of authenticity, authority, and genre that plague the ethnic female literary tradition. She then goes on to consider the various elements of the Pocahontas story, such as generational conflict, renunciation of one's ethnic origins, and intermarriage, that resurface in American women's fiction as dominant ethnic themes in American culture. Finally, Dearborn suggests that American women writers, in taking ethnicity as an integral part of the American identity, can perhaps best portray what it has meant to be a woman and an outsider in American culture.

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Contents

Gender and Ethnicity in American Culture
3
Strategies of Authorship in American Ethnic Womens
31
Black Women Authors and the Harlem Renaissance
48
Copyright

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About the author (1986)

Mary V. Dearborn is the author of MAILER: A BIOGRAPHY, as well as biographies of Henry Miller, John Dewey and Anzia Yezierska, and Louise Bryant. Dearborn holds a doctorate in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, where she was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities. Dearborn currently resides in New York.

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