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Memory Work - White Ignorance and Black Resistance in Popular Magazines, 1900-1910

Memory Work

White Ignorance and Black Resistance in Popular Magazines, 1900-1910

By Mary E. Triece
Series: Race, Rhetoric, and Media Series

Hardcover : 9781496854155, 156 pages, 5 b&w illustrations, November 2024
Paperback : 9781496854162, 176 pages, 5 b&w illustrations, November 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-11-15
Expected to ship: 2024-11-15

Table of contents

Introduction: Communication, Race, and Popular Magazines
Chapter 1: Popular Magazines, Race, and the Construction of Cultural Knowledge
Chapter 2: Memory Work and White Violence
Chapter 3: Memory Work and a Cult of White Purity
Chapter 4: Countermemory Work: Reconsidering Black History and White Racism
Chapter 5: Countermemory Work and Narrative Inversion
Conclusion: Persistent White Ignorance and the Optimism of Resistant Cultural Memory

How post-Reconstruction periodicals used opposing rhetorical strategies to shape public memory


In the early twentieth century, white-controlled magazines and Black magazines told very different stories about the dynamics of race, sex, and power in the United States. Memory Work: White Ignorance and Black Resistance in Popular Magazines, 1900–1910 examines how popular magazines employed rhetorical strategies to remember, forget, and frame America’s racist past. White-controlled magazines such as the Independent, Outlook, Arena, and McClure’s carried stories of southern nostalgia, union reconciliation, and white purity. Relying on willful ignorance to misremember past experiences of suffering, these texts severed violent histories from present-day policies and often simply remained silent. Meanwhile, in Black magazines such as the Colored American Magazine and the Voice of the Negro, women writers leveraged countermemory. Bringing Black women’s accomplishments into focus, these writers inverted popular white narratives that erased and obscured Black women’s experiences, including those of sexual violence.

Mary E. Triece traces how white and Black magazines—often in dialogue with one another—differently engaged memory work to either reinforce or upend white supremacy during a period of both Black advancement and white backlash. Further, the book suggests lines of connection between the construction of public memory in the past to those taking place today across an array of media platforms. Popular debates—whether appearing in early 1900s magazines or on twenty-first-century social media sites—shape a culture’s collective knowledge of what counts as true, important, and worthy of attention.