Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The March 2013 issue of American Literature includes a review essay by James Dawes titled "Racism and Violence in Current US Literary and Cultural Criticism" that reviews Living with Lynching along with three other books. Dawes is a very well respected literary and cultural historian who engages violence and trauma. In this review essay, he frames his assessment in terms of theoretical contribution versus historical recuperation. Living with Lynching is viewed as capable of the latter, and the review gives the impression that this is a much more limited contribution because our current historical moment demands the kind of theoretical interventions offered in Jodi Melamed's Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism. I very much admire Melamed's work, but that project is very different from trying to do justice to people who lived and wrote while the mob remained a palpable threat.
Though the review did not seem very interested in taking my book on its own terms, I appreciate that Living with Lynching got some space in a journal I value and some attention from a scholar I very much respect.
See American Literature 85.1 (March 2013): 177 - 84.