In the study of American literary and cultural history, race and religion are siblings who are forever kept apart. There is plenty of scholarship on religious literature as an ancient engine driving American expression from the seventeenth century until today. And there is a deep appreciation of the importance of faith-based community building as well as decision making for the formation of a "civil religion" that has attracted migration to the USA for centuries. In these conversations, there is a strong sense that religion is a powerful ingredient of all stories of liberation and self-empowerment. At the same time, there is an even stronger research tradition on the racialization of the self and of colonial and national culture. Indigenous dispossession, the enslavement of indigenous and African people and forced as well as labor migration have shaped literary and cultural expression profoundly. They are the "racial iceberg[s]" that shape literary and cultural communication in profound and often underrated ways, delimiting the "possible selves" of non-white writers, artists, readers, while widening the range of "possible selves" for white practitioners of race (Markus/Moya, Doing Race, 2008). In this lecture, we will walk backward from the turn to the twentieth century, the ostensible high noon of white Anglo-Saxon protestantism, to ask ourselves, how these siblings, these two stories of American literary and cultural expression, came to be seen as so distinctive, and why they have been kept apart. Participants will learn about a range of under- and overstudied texts, the focus set on their ability to sketch the co-evolution of religious and racial thinking in American literary and cultural expression.
- Lehrende(r): Barbara Buchenau