Nelson provides a study of the ways in which Anglo-American authors constructed "race" in their works from the time of the first British colonists through the period of the Civil war. Choosing texts which assume a variety of positions on the issue of race, both fictional and non-fictional, Nelson traces its development at the level of ongoing cultural subjugation. Looking at race as a fictional construct and a cultural apparatus, she explores how these texts strategize race for their larger culture, and how they contribute to the continuing debate.

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