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    Poe's and race

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    In the following two scholarly articles, the authors discuss their views on whether Edgar Allan Poe was racist...or not.

    Lee argues that Poe was a racist in his article "Absolute Poe: His System of Transcendental Racism". Kennedy and Weissberg argue that Poe was not racist in their article "Romancing the Shadow: Poe and Race". Provide an example from each article that the author gives to support his argument.

    Based on the two articles above:

    1) Summarize Lee's article
    2) Summarize Kennedy and Weissberg's article
    3) Critique the articles: Is Lee's argument correct? Kennedy's argument correct? What's wrong with their viewpoints? (in your opinion)
    4) Using supporting evidence, prove why either Lee or Kennedy was correct in their argument.

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    Lee's argument that Poe was a racist permeates Absolute Poe: His System of Transcendental Racism." For example, Lee maintains that Poe's texts seem to involve a clear us versus them dichotomy that is highly bigoted. The writer claims that Poe's texts exude "a separate, masterful subjectivity by radically distancing others" (25). The writer further contends that Poe was highly influenced by unconscious thoughts and wrote "about the fraught relation between the hidden and recognized mind" (23). In other words, Lee interprets Poe's obsession with blackness, not merely as part of his gothic fascination but also as "...texts that may seem haunted by Poe's lurking racial phobias can be taken as complex dramatizations of a psychology of mastery and racism" (22).

    The authors in "Romancing the Shadow: Poe and Race" dismiss claims that Poe was a racist. Instead, they allege that Poe's views were more of a production or publication tactic that Poe and other antebellum writers employed since "...average racism was not a sociological measurement of actual beliefs but rather a strategic construction designed to overcome political dissension in the emerging mass audience. In other words, publishers and commercial writers were seeking a form of racism acceptable to white readers who were otherwise divided over the more precise issue of slavery" (4). Facts that Poe even used his writing to explore the effects of fanaticism, not ...

    Solution Summary

    Literary arguments for and against Poe as a racist are briefly compared in this posting.