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Imperfect UnionsStaging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction$
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Diana Rebekkah Paulin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816670987

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816670987.001.0001

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Staging the Unspoken Terror

Staging the Unspoken Terror

(p.99) Chapter 3 Staging the Unspoken Terror
Imperfect Unions

Diana Rebekkah Paulin

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores the acrimonious debates over interracial unions in post-Reconstruction America as well as the ways in which the meanings of miscegenation were reconfigured as a staging ground for the articulation of interrelated cultural, political, and economic concerns of the period. It reads Charles Chesnutt’s novel The Marrow of Tradition (1901) and Thomas Dixon’s drama The Clansman (1905), both of which engaged the era’s polarized model of blackness versus whiteness and tapped into mainstream anxiety about racial intermixture and miscegenation in their depictions of the Reconstructed South. This chapter highlights the naturalizing effect of the ubiquitous miscegenation discourse and shows how it infuses every related issue in The Marrow of Tradition and The Clansman, such as gender roles, national identity, U.S. expansion, segregation, racial violence, class struggles, racial uplift, the “science” of eugenics, and regionalized conflicts.

Keywords:   interracial unions, miscegenation, Charles Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition, Thomas Dixon, The Clansman, blackness, whiteness, segregation, eugenics

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