Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-pcn4s Total loading time: 0.368 Render date: 2022-05-16T08:38:27.224Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

23 - Linguistic identity and community in American literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

James Peterson
Affiliation:
University of Pennsylvania
Edward Finegan
Affiliation:
University of Southern California
John R. Rickford
Affiliation:
Stanford University, California
Get access

Summary

Editors' introduction

Of the characters in a literary text, this chapter asks how we know who we are reading – how is a character's social identity represented and conveyed in a literary work? To answer the question, James Peterson proposes four analytical tools: the author's identity; stereotypes; situational contexts; and orthographic practices. With a warning against the dangers of essentialism, he notes that critically acclaimed representations of ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation have typically been produced by authors with first-hand knowledge of those identities – from Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin to Toni Morrison and Alice Walker; from Sherman Alexie to Amy Tan, and from Richard Rodriguez to Sandra Cisneros. Similar to author identity in its transparency is situational context – the setting of the activities of fictional characters – whether living on Indian reservations or playing the dozens on the streets of Detroit. A third device is stereotypical representation, which writers may use to upend the oppressive effects of stereotyping, subverting the negative import of those effects. Lastly – and most obviously linguistic – is orthography, the characteristics of spelling, punctuation, and other devices of written linguistic representation by which authors endeavor to indicate social identity.

In this chapter you will see how Peterson applies these analytical tools to the representation of identity in the works of Native American writer Sherman Alexie, Latin novelists Esmeralda Santiago and Piri Thomas, and African American authors from Charles Chesnutt in the nineteenth century to Ellison, Richard Wright, and Zora Neale Hurston, among others, in the twentieth century.

Type
Chapter
Information
Language in the USA
Themes for the Twenty-first Century
, pp. 430 - 444
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
1
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×