Place, Blood, and Tradition in Post-Reconstruction Southern Literature
In Off Whiteness: Place, Blood, and Tradition in Post-Reconstruction Southern Literature, Izabela Hopkins explores the remaking of whiteness in the Post-Reconstruction South as represented in literary fiction. To focus her study, she discusses the writings of four prominent figures: Thomas Nelson Page, Ellen Glasgow, Charles Waddell Chesnutt, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson, who contributed to discussions of racial and social identity during the post–Civil War South through poetry, journalism, essays, novels, and more.
Off Whiteness draws from both sides of the color line—as well as from both the male and female experience—to examine the ambivalence of Southern whiteness from three particular vantage points: place, ideality, and repeatability. Hopkins develops her analysis across nine chapters divided into three parts. In her exploration of these four writers with differing backgrounds and experiences, she utilizes both their well-known and lesser-known texts to argue against the superficial oversimplification that “whiteness requires blackness to define itself.”
Hopkins’s analysis not only successfully grapples with a wide range of post-structural theories; it also approaches the significance of language and religion with intention and sensitivity, thereby addressing areas that are typically ignored in whiteness studies scholarship. The interdisciplinary nature of Off Whiteness positions it as an engaging text relevant to the work and interests of scholars drawn to American and Southern history, cultural and social studies, literary studies, etymology, and critical race theory.
IZABELA HOPKINS obtained her PhD from Birmingham City University where she is now a research assistant.