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Romances of the White Man's Burden
Race, Empire, and the Plantation in American Literature, 1880-1936
Author BioJeremy Wells is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Allegheny College.
Main Description"Take up the white man's burden!" So wrote the English writer Rudyard Kipling in 1899, in a poem aimed at Americans at a time when colonial ambitions were particularly high. The poem proved especially popular among white southern men, who saw in its vision of America's imperial future an image that appeared to reflect and even redeem the South's plantation past.
Romances of the White Man's Burden takes on works in American literature in which the proverbial "old plantation" is made to seem not a relic but a harbinger, a sign that the South had arrived at a multiracial modernity and harmony before the rest of the United States. Focusing on writers such as Joel Chandler Harris, Thomas Nelson Page, Henry W. Grady, Thomas Dixon, and William Faulkner, Jeremy Wells reveals their shared fixation on the figure of the white southern man as specially burdened by history. Each of these writers, in his own way, presented the plantation South as an emblem, not an aberration, of America.
"This is a welcome book--probably required reading for historians of the New South and a useful contribution to the important new body of anti-exceptionalist scholarship on the region."
--The Journal of American History
"A book worth reading"
--The Journal of Southern History
"Draws on refreshingly original methods when analyzing the intersections of race, empire, and the plantation in U.S. literature."
--Harilaos Stecopoulos, University of Iowa, author of Reconstructing the World
"It's important, timely, well researched, and well written. I recommend it with enthusiasm."
--John Mayfield, Samford University, author of Counterfeit Gentlemen