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Reading: Failed patriarchs, familial villains, and slaves to rum: White masculinity on trial in Afric...

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Failed patriarchs, familial villains, and slaves to rum: White masculinity on trial in African American mulatta melodrama

Author:

Anna Pochmara

University of Warsaw, PL
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Abstract

The article analyzes three African American mulatta melodramas from a masculinity studies perspective. Referring to the concepts of genteel patriarchy, the patrician paradigm, as well as the nineteenth-century reform discourse of temperance and self-restrained manliness, I demonstrate that the texts selected for analysis challenge the southern upperclass ideology of masculinity by contrasting it with northern mythology rooted in selfdiscipline. Yet despite their critique of southern men’s cultural practices and myths, the novels also explicitly point out that white gentlemen in the South fail to meet their own standards and definitions of masculinity. Finally, the uncanny similarity between the representations of white upper-class men in the novels and minstrel images of blackness makes it possible to read the mulatta melodramas as implicitly challenging contemporary retrogressionist mythology.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.390
How to Cite: Pochmara, A., 2016. Failed patriarchs, familial villains, and slaves to rum: White masculinity on trial in African American mulatta melodrama. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 15(4), pp.208–235. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.390
Published on 31 Dec 2016.

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