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America’s Experts

Race and the Fictions of Sociology

2009
Author:

Cynthia H. Tolentino

America’s Experts

Reveals the impact of sociology on ethnic literature and the politics of race

Challenging conventional accounts of U.S. ethnic literature rooted in 1960s and 1970s social movements, Cynthia H. Tolentino sees this literary work as emerging from a political climate in which arguments about the integration of racial minorities and the moral legitimacy of U.S. international leadership are intertwined.

America’s Experts is a focused, tightly integrated entry in the ongoing debate about the political significance of the emergence of Ethnic American Literature as a category of widespread national and global interest.

Caroline C. Simpson, University of Washington

During World War II, the rising visibility of anticolonial and antiracist movements exposed contradictions between the U.S. democratic mission in Europe and racist practices against people of color at home. Yet the professional success stories of people of color gave ideological support to the notion that liberal antiracism was spreading within the United States.

Challenging conventional accounts of U.S. ethnic literature rooted in 1960s and 1970s social movements, Cynthia H. Tolentino sees this literary work as emerging from a political climate in which arguments about the integration of racial minorities and the moral legitimacy of U.S. international leadership are intertwined. Probing how sociologists including Robert E. Park, Gunnar Myrdal, and Emory Bogardus situated Asian Americans, Filipinos, and African Americans as model citizens and problems, Tolentino contends that such studies served as a staging ground for writers of color to become narrators of racial identity, citizenship, and U.S. neocolonialism.

Tracing the literary engagements of Richard Wright, Carlos Bulosan, and Jade Snow Wong with the sociology of race, Tolentino assesses their works as critical expressions of class negotiation on the global stage and illuminates the significance of U.S. ethnic literature.

America’s Experts

Cynthia H. Tolentino is assistant professor of English at the University of Oregon.

America’s Experts

America’s Experts is a focused, tightly integrated entry in the ongoing debate about the political significance of the emergence of Ethnic American Literature as a category of widespread national and global interest.

Caroline C. Simpson, University of Washington

Tolentino’s nuanced analysis provides an important contribution to the study of how creative and cultural production is influenced by intersecting discourses of race, class, and global ambition.

MELUS

Tolentino’s innovation is to connect the broader discourse on black, educated professionals with colonial discourses of racial uplift and Americanization. Tolentino demonstrates the importance of sociology to intellectuals of color, as both an academic discipline and a nationalist discourse that calls into question U.S. domination at home and abroad.

American Literature

A fresh and engaging study which deepens our understanding of three important writers by placing their work in very revealing historical and cultural contexts. Fluently written and meticulously well researched, it will be extremely useful to both generalists and specialists.

African American Review