Book Cover

The White Trash Menace and Hemispheric Fiction

Ramón E. Soto-Crespo

214 pp. 6 x 9
15 b & w illustrations
Pub Date: January, 2020

Subjects: Literary Studies, American
Literary Studies, Caribbean
Race & Ethnic Studies
Cultural Studies

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“Because of the shockingly amusing nature of the fiction it rehearses, The White Trash Menace and Hemispheric Fiction is as pleasurable as it is instructive to peruse.” —Robert L. Caserio

“Soto-Crespo’s multi-layered framework interweaves compelling revisionist readings of high canonical novels with succinct descriptions of disposable pulp fiction and in so doing challenges settled understandings of transnational circulation across the Anglophone Americas.” —Donald E. Pease

The White Trash Menace and Hemispheric Fiction uncovers a rich archive of “white trash” fiction in the Caribbean and its surrounding regions. After the abolition of slavery, affluent white planters underwent a period of identity crisis where the wealthy no longer maintained their privileges, and yet they did not belong to the group of newly freed peoples. Ramón E. Soto-Crespo analyzes the literary legacy of those who came under the label of “white trash.” This book argues that during the mid-twentieth century, “white trash” started off as a trope in pulp fiction and subsequently became absorbed into what we now think of as canonical literature. In The White Trash Menace, Soto-Crespo pairs novels from William Faulkner and Jean Rhys with pulp authors such as Edgar Mittelholzer and Kyle Onstott in order to provide an alternate account of the literary development of race and class in the Americas. Together these works constitute a circum-Atlantic, white-trash world of letters: a hemispheric network of decapitalized whiteness that challenges how we imagine literary history by departing from nation-based models of aesthetic development. By providing a genealogy of literary circulation, The White Trash Menace likewise challenges conventional understandings of “white trash,” and more broadly challenges our understanding of literature, class, and race in the Americas.

Ramón E. Soto Crespo is Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and author of Mainland Passage: The Cultural Anomaly of Puerto Rico.



Introduction    White Trash, Decapitalization, and Literary Circulation

Chapter 1        Faulkner’s “Porto Rico”: Circulation, White Trash, and the Caribbean

Chapter 2        Circum-Atlantic Trash: Despised Forms and Postwar Caribbean Fiction

Chapter 3        Trash Travels: White Cockroaches in Circum-Atlantic Literature

Chapter 4        Archipelagoes of White Debt: Indentured Trash in Circum-Atlantic Fiction

Postscript        Hemispheric Trash: A Cultural Paradox
Appendix        Writers of Trash Fiction