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Party/PoliticsHorizons in Black Political Thought$
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Michael Hanchard

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176247

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176247.001.0001

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Kohlhaas/Coalhouse: Race, Foreigners, and States of Exception

Kohlhaas/Coalhouse: Race, Foreigners, and States of Exception

(p.154) Chapter 6 Kohlhaas/Coalhouse: Race, Foreigners, and States of Exception

Michael Hanchard

Oxford University Press

The chapter charts the space between micro- and macropolitics in literary form, though the comparison of a short story and a novel. Kohlhaas in Heinrich Von Kleist's short story is about a man who ignites a rebellion in the German countryside after a nobleman steals two of his most prized horses. Coalhouse Walker in E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime is a prototypical figure of black middle-class politics—a politics of resentment and agitation over the limitations of a bourgeois public sphere of representation, status, and consumption, rather than a vision of a macropolitics revolution that would transform an inherently feudal system of economic relations into a more egalitarian one. The two literatures are obvious characterological and political parallels. Both fictional tales provide an opportunity to consider the virtues and limitations of rebellion and resistance steeped in revenge tales and individual notions of justice.

Keywords:   micropolitics, macropolitics, Kohlhaas, Heinrich Von Kleist, rebellion, German, Coalhouse Walker, E. L. Doctorow, egalitarian

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