University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Faculty of Education Research Students' Association (FERSA) Lunchtime Seminars 2014-2015 > “Some of your father's miserable Yankee notions": Racial anxieties in Annie Fellows Johnston's The Little Colonel

“Some of your father's miserable Yankee notions": Racial anxieties in Annie Fellows Johnston's The Little Colonel

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Despite initial popularity, Annie Fellows Johnston’s Little Colonel books are conspicuously missing from children’s literature discourse today. With problematic racist portrayals of the post-Reconstruction South, it is easy to understand why they might be considered devalued texts. In my paper, I examine the collective cultural inheritance in the first book, The Little Colonel (1895), focused on the complicated racial anxiety communicated in the character of Lloyd Sherman. By examining issues of gender and race exemplified the “Little Colonel” character, my study explores the book’s problematic portrayals of girlhood, gender roles, nationality, whiteness and blackness. By evoking Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Lloyd enacts racial transgression via tomboyism and her unpunished fits of temper. Her hybridity allows Lloyd to initially ignore class- and racial boundaries, but also exposes nationalistic anxieties as she, along with her Southern mother and Yankee father, are reintegrated into her Southern Colonel grandfather’s life and home.

This talk is part of the Faculty of Education Research Students' Association (FERSA) Lunchtime Seminars 2014-2015 series.

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