Recent criticism of Pauline Hopkins's now canonical final magazine novel, Of One Blood; or, The Hidden Self (1902–3), can generally be separated into two broad categories. On the one hand, critics such as Susan Gillman and Shawn Salvant have interrogated the ways in which the novel contests the multivalent structures of hysteria, trauma, miscegenation, and incest in an effort to undermine dominant modes of representing African Americans at the beginning of the twentieth century. On the other hand, critics such as Cynthia Schrager and Colleen O'Brien have looked to the ways in which the novel interacts with transnational models of black national identity in order to better define the position of African Americans both within and beyond the borders of the United States. This article bridges the gap between these interpretations by showing how Hopkins employed Jamesian psychology in order to confront transhistorical, diasporic black traumas and, partly, to conceive of ways to heal those traumas. The article argues that Hopkins's novel points to the connections between transpersonal experiences of trauma and their transnational corollaries. William James was concerned with how transpersonal communication and multiple consciousnesses could heal whole societies, and Hopkins's novel recognizes and builds provisionally upon this. At the same time, this article argues that Hopkins ultimately rejects much of James's approach and that the qualities of confusion, contradiction, and contingency that many readers of Hopkins's text have noted in fact constitute a response to James's theories—a statement recognizing the unfinished quality of diasporic black political action.
Gordon Fraser; Transnational Healing in Pauline Hopkins's Of One Blood; Or, the Hidden Self. Novel 1 November 2013; 46 (3): 364–385. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-2345867
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