Dr. Colleen O’Brien, Associate Professor of English, Releases Book Exploring Race, Gender-Based Rights

September 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm

In “Race, Romance and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century,” University of South Carolina Upstate professor Dr. Colleen O’Brien presents her first book and delves into the intricacies of territorial expansion, freedoms, and disenfranchised groups in the nineteenth century Americas.

Scheduled for release on September 27, this book explores the enigma of race and gender-based rights during an era of conflicting portrayals of American history and the hemispheric developments transpiring at that time, in particular those that united the
United States with Africa, Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.

“I don’t just look at the U.S. or U.S. citizens,” O’Brien noted. “I consider the interrelationships between different parts of the Americas and different groups, many of whom were disenfranchised. Images of violent slave insurrection repeatedly coincide with stories of interracial romance, both in cautionary tales that depict the revolution as a gothic nightmare and in reform literature that idealizes and romanticizes race relations.”

A cultural historian, literary scholar and associate professor of English, O’Brien presents a compelling look at how transnational print cultures consistently flashed back to moments of domestic controversy over race, gender and rights. Her extensive research and review of official documents and histories, such as speeches given in the U.S. legislature, as well as newspaper reports, private letters, novels and narratives by people whose voice wasn’t part of the public record otherwise, reveal a common concern: a future in which romance and rebellion engender radical social and political transformation.

“I chose this topic because the process of freedom is ongoing, not guaranteed,” she said. “There are pervasive issues of human rights in the United States and throughout the world today that I think can be traced back to the founding of the United States and the Colonial era, in general.”

“Race, Romance and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century” is published by University of Virginia Press and the Mellon American Literatures initiative.

For more information, contact Dr. Colleen O’Brien at (864) 503-5678 or cobrien@uscupstate.edu.