Sitting in Darkness

9781479880416: Hardback
Release Date: 20th February 2015

9781479815104: Paperback
Release Date: 20th February 2015

9781479843404: PDF
Release Date: 20th February 2015

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 248

Series America and the Long 19th Century

NYU Press

Sitting in Darkness

Mark Twain's Asia and Comparative Racialization

Hardback / £74.00
Paperback / £18.99
PDF / £22.00
Perhaps the most popular of all canonicalAmerican authors, Mark Twain is famous for creating works that satirizeAmerican formations of race and empire. While many scholars have exploredTwain’s work in African Americanist contexts, his writing on Asia and AsianAmericans remains largely in the shadows. In Sitting in Darkness, Hsuan Hsuexamines Twain’s career-long archive of writings about United States relationswith China and the Philippines. Comparing Twain’s early writings about Chineseimmigrants in California and Nevada with his later fictions of slavery andanti-imperialist essays, he demonstrates that Twain’s ideas about race were notlimited to white and black, but profoundly comparative as he carefully craftedassessments of racialization that drew connections between groups, includingAfrican Americans, Chinese immigrants, and a range of colonial populations.
Drawing on recent legal scholarship,comparative ethnic studies, and transnational and American studies, Sitting inDarkness engages Twain’s best-known novels such as Tom Sawyer, HuckleberryFinn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, as well as hislesser-known Chinese and trans-Pacific inflected writings, such as theallegorical tale “A Fable of the Yellow Terror” and the yellow face play AhSin. Sitting in Darkness reveals how within intersectional contexts of ChineseExclusion and Jim Crow, these writings registered fluctuating connectionsbetween immigration policy, imperialist ventures, and racism.



List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: “Coolies” and Comparative Racialization 1

in the Global West

1. “A Witness More Powerful than Himself ”: Race, Testimony, 27

and Twain’s Courtroom Farces

2. Vagrancy and Comparative Racialization in Huckleberry 53

Finn and “Three Vagabonds of Trinidad”

3. “Coolies” and Corporate Personhood in Those 83

Extraordinary Twins

4. A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of Wu Chih Tien: 109

Imperial Romance and Chinese Modernization

5. Body Counts and Comparative Anti-imperialism 139

Conclusion: Post-racial Twain? 167

Notes 171

Works Cited 209

Index 229

About the Author 244

Hsuan L. Hsu is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Davis and author of Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteenth-Century American Literature.

"Advanced scholars will be most at home with the level of discussion, but the author clearly relates plentiful historical references to Twain’s texts and develops a convincing case for the prevalence of race-related issues in Twain’s consciousness.”-Choice

"A brilliant book that will add immeasurably to Mark Twain studies, American literary studies, and the field of comparative studies of race and ethnicity. Exciting, well-written, and filled with surprising, unexpected connections, Sitting in Darkness contributes to our understanding of the history of comparative racialization in America while deftly placing literature in legal and social contexts that are truly illuminating.”-Shelley Fisher Fishkin,Professor of English and Director of American Studies, Stanford University