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Civil Rights in the White Literary ImaginationInnocence by Association$
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Jonathan W. Gray

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781617036491

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617036491.001.0001

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Perfect Unions

Perfect Unions

Innocence and Exceptionalism in American Literary Discourse

(p.2) (p.3) Introduction Perfect Unions
Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination

Jonathan W. Gray

University Press of Mississippi

This book describes how literature, social reform, and American innocence intertwine to show the persistence of American exceptionalism as a metaphysical and metaphorical state of being. The discussion here extends from the premise that the Civil Rights Movement transformed America. The book studies the work of four very different writers and how it was influenced by the recognition of Black American citizenship. Each of these writers produced major work prior to 1954 that failed to question the racial order of the United States and demonstrated outright hostility to those who sought to challenge the status quo. The events that occurred in the 1950s and ’60s forced them to turn “their adverse, critical, and very intense passions upon the condition of the polity” and produce work that allowed them to reorient their selves in light of the new dispensation.

Keywords:   literature, social reform, American innocence, exceptionalism, state of being

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