In a surprise rereading of the classic Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, Sally Hirsh-Dickinson contends that it scandalized the nation precisely because of the way in which sexuality in the novel is conflated with America’s problematic relationship to race. This charge is buttressed by the oft-forgotten detail that the fictional Peyton Place was founded by one Samuel Peyton, an escaped slave.
Hirsh-Dickinson argues that the town’s inability to come to terms with its black history informs its dysfunctional relationship to sex, power, and justice, mirroring America on the eve of the civil rights movement. She writes of New England in the larger American consciousness, touching on discussions of white studies and the racialized lower classes in American fiction. Dirty Whites and Dark Secrets is a thought-provoking study of a genre classic that will speak to both scholars and students about the deeper truths hidden in popular fiction.
About the Author
SALLY HIRSH-DICKINSON is an assistant professor of English at Rivier College in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the Saturday-morning voice of New Hampshire Public Radio.
Table of Contents
Dark Past, White Lies: Reconsidering the Sources of Scandal in Peyton Place
The Color of Incest: Sexual Abuse, Racial Anxiety, and the 1950s Family in Peyton Place
Domestic Disturbances: Rape, Race, and Peyton Place
The Good Rapist, the Bad Rapist, and the Abortionist: Peyton Place’s Crisis of Masculinity
Home Is Where the Haunt Is: Domestic Space, Race, and the Uncanny
What People are Saying About This
“Scholarly attention to Peyton Place has been intermittent, and no one else, to date, has approached the book with such attention to detail, and such theoretical sophistication, as Hirsh-Dickinson. Dirty Whites and Dark Secrets provides a well-written, smart, provocative, and most welcome analysis.”