Eugenic Narrative in Tobacco Road From the Body Perspective毕业论文
- Introduction 1
- Demonstration 2
- Erskine Caldwell and Eugenics 2
- Eugenics in Caldwell’s Time 2
- The Influence of Eugenics upon Caldwell 4
- Eugenic discourse in Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre 4
- Eugenic discourse in Tobacco Road 5
- Eugenic discourse in God’s Little Acre 8
- Caldwell’s Contradictory Attitude towards Eugenics 10
- Caldwell’s Positive Attitude towards Eugenics 10
- Caldwell’s Negative Attitude towards Eugenics 11
- Erskine Caldwell and Eugenics 2
- Conclusion 11
Works Cited 13
The Eugenic Discourse in Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre
Erskine Caldwell, born in 1903 in Georgia, grew up in the southern countryside which made him a writer with solid foundation of life and rich social practice. He was also a well-known representative in the Southern Renaissance. The French ranked Caldwell as “the five greatest writers” along with Faulkner, Hemingway, Dos Passos and Steinbeck.
Compared with other famous writers like Melville, Caldwell’s fame experienced a turning point from success to failure. In the 1930s, Caldwell was often listed as one of the best writers in the United States, appearing alongside Hemingway and Woolf. Caldwell’s first publications were The Bastard (1929) and Poor Fool (1930), but the most famous ones were Tobacco Road (1932) and God’s Little Acre (1933). After Tobacco Road was adapted into a stage play, Caldwell’s book sales increased dramatically.
In addition to the twists and turns of fame he experienced, Caldwell was also a controversial writer in the history of American literature. In his novels Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre, he was praised by critics for exposing poverty, racism and social problems in his southern homeland. But at the same time, he was also controversial among Southerners, especially for his distorted, hungry and ferocious images of strange people. It’s even considered to be demeaning white people in the South.
Caldwell’s novels continually conducted social analysis, expressed absurd humor and sad compassion, and his later documentary photography eased the subject, aesthetic deprivation, moral indignation, and political despair of respecting his work.
Eugenics began in Britain in the late 19th century and reached its peak in the United States in the 1930s. In the meantime, eugenics became popular in Britain and the United States. It was not only popular in medicine and politics, but also
had a profound impact on other fields of knowledge. Literature, an important position of modern discourse and the vane of the times, clearly reflects the traces swept by the eugenics boom.
Caldwell was influenced by his father, Ira Caldwell who did much research on eugenics. A large number of monstrous figures portrayed in Caldwell’s works seem to have the suspicion of garbage poor white people. Erskine Caldwell’s writings are deeply influenced by the eugenic discourse, which argues that family and environmental factors are the main factors determining the individual’s physical and mental development. This thesis will mainly study Caldwell’s two works Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre, with the focus on how the eugenic discourse is represented through the tragic writings of Southern families as well as characterization of southern poor people. The first part is the introduction which deals with the relationship between Caldwell and eugenics. The second part will analyze Caldwell’s eugenics thoughts through his works. Finally this thesis will explore Caldwell’s attitudes towards eugenics.
- Erskine Caldwell and Eugenics
Eugenics reached its peak in the United States in the 1930s, and Caldwell traveled around with his father since he was ten years old. His father was very concerned about social problems and had deep sympathy for those, especially the poor, who suffered from unfair treatment, so Caldwell could see the human sufferings and accumulate ample sources for literary writing. At the same time, his father’s research on eugenics also deeply influenced Caldwell.
- Eugenics in Caldwell’s Time
Eugenics originated in Europe aiming to promote the idea of Germanic high-quality races and to improve human races by restricting and eliminating the reproduction of “inferior races”. As we all know, this campaign under the banner of science later became an excuse for German fascists to carry out the tragic genocide.