Ethnic American Literature: Comparing Chicano, Jewish, and African American Writing

Bolaki, S. (2008) Ethnic American Literature: Comparing Chicano, Jewish, and African American Writing. Callaloo, 31(3), pp. 966-969. (doi:10.1353/cal.0.0182) [Book Review]

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In Ethnic American Literature: Comparing Chicano, Jewish, and African American Writing, Dean Franco raises important questions concerning changes in conceptions of ethnicity in America. The study examines ethnic American literary and critical writing with an emphasis on Jewish and Chicano literature, drawing on theories of trauma, and diaspora, as well as postcolonial studies. Modelling a comparative approach to ethnicliterary criticism, Franco wishes to bridge the gap in existing scholarship, which distinguishes between an early generation of ethnic Americans of European heritage, a group widely regarded as white, and a more recent generation from colonized or third-world countries, construed in racial terms. Instead, he illustrates how certain critical methods can help us approach different literatures and at the same time “rethink the objectivity of our critical tools” (24). The book is divided into two sections entitled “Traumatic History and Ethnic American Literature” and “The Location of Cultures.” There is a productive symmetry in the ways in which tropes, themes, and questions are revisited across the five chapters. The introduce two simultaneous but different historical moments as far as first the development of Jewish and Chicano thought are concerned. The opening chapter asks how Jewish literature can respond to trauma when it becomes appropriated and reified by popular culture. The second chapter, on the other hand, confronts the state of ignorance in America about Chicano history as, contrary to the attention the Holocaust receives, Chicanos’ traumatic past is either ignored or overwritten by official American history. This dichotomy is complicated in the third chapter, which inquires into whether the strategies of cultural mourning outlined in the previous chapters are appropriate to describe how African-American culture responds to the history of slavery.

Item Type:Book Reviews
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bolaki, Dr Styliani
Authors: Bolaki, S.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Callaloo

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