Chapter 14 Immigration and the United States: Immigrant Writing and Ethnic American Literature

In: Immigrant and Ethnic-Minority Writers since 1945
Author:
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials
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Abstract

This chapter considers how past immigration restrictions and more recent migration policies have impacted the history and influenced the themes of ethnic American literature. As significant is the role of mid-twentieth-century social movements (such as the US Civil Rights Movement) in the making of what has now become an identifiable ethnic American literary canon in US literary studies. The chapter maps the development of and charts the politics embedded in this canon over the course of the twentieth and into the early twenty-first centuries. Key is an examination of various tensions within US literary studies; such tensions are made visible in the strategic inclusion of ethnic American authors via categories of racialised difference (e.g., as white ethnic, African American, Asian American, Latino/a, and Native writers). The chapter concludes with a critical consideration of ‘multiculturalism’ as a now dominant mode through which ethnic American authors are read, canonised, and evaluated.

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