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Playing the RacesEthnic Caricature and American Literary Realism$
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Henry B. Wonham

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195161946

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161946.001.0001

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The “Curious Realism” of Charles W. Chesnutt

The “Curious Realism” of Charles W. Chesnutt

(p.152) 5 The “Curious Realism” of Charles W. Chesnutt
Playing the Races

Henry B. Wonham (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Charles Chesnutt's early sketches in Puck, theorizing that the magazine's insensitive treatment of every imaginable ethnic group or identity provided an important laboratory for Chesnutt's apprenticeship in the art of ethnic caricature. Focusing on the radical juxtapositions of ethnic imagery throughout Puck's printed pages, this chapter suggests that Chesnutt's art is uniquely suited to the era's fascination with ethnic typology. Nevertheless, the chapter argues that the use of ethnic caricature by a writer of color produced its own forms of ambivalence.

Keywords:   Puck, illustration, racism, representation, ethnicity, ethnic literature, stereotype

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