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Blood Talk

American Race Melodrama and the Culture of the Occult

The United States has seldom known a period of greater social and cultural volatility, especially in terms of race relations, than the years from the end of Reconstruction to the First World War. In this highly original study, Susan Gillman explores the rise during this period of a remarkable genre—the race melodrama—and the way in which it converged with literary trends, popular history, fringe movements, and mainstream interest in supernatural phenomena.

Blood Talk shows how race melodrama emerged from abolitionist works such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin and surprisingly manifested itself in a set of more aesthetically and politically varied works, such as historical romances, sentimental novels, the travel literature of Mark Twain, the regional fiction of Kate Chopin and George Washington Cable, and the work of W. E. B. Du Bois. Gillman then uses the race melodrama to show how racial discourses in the United States have been entangled with occultist phenomena, from the rituals of the Ku Klux Klan and the concept of messianic second-sight to the production of conspiracy theories and studies of dreams and trances.

256 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2003

Black Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

Chapter One
American Race Melodramas in the Culture of the Occult
An Introduction

Chapter Two
Pauline Hopkins and Blood Talk
Revising Racial Science, Telling Race History in Maternal Melodramas

Chapter Three
Procrustean Bedfellows?
Black Nationalism and White Supremacy at the Turn of the Century

Chapter Four
Mark Twain and Fellow Occult Travelers

Chapter Five
W. E. B. Du Bois and Occult History

The Politics of Occult Time;
or, But Is It Any Good?



MLA: MLA William Sanders Scarborough Prize
Honorable Mention

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