With "Roger Malvin's Burial," "My Kinsman, Major Molineux," "Legends of the Province House," and "Old News" to his credit, I'd say the critical commonplace that Hawthorne didn't know what to do with 18th-century New England history is wrong. So how did it become a commonplace in the first place, and why?
Where do we draw the line between identifying Hawthorne's intentions and positing our own readings of his novels and tales as his intentions? How do we tell the difference? Should we be focusing more on identifying the actual political and cultural work of his fiction in his times or their potential political and cultural work in our times?
Why did close attention to Hawthorne and race follow prior debates on Hawthorne's engagements with gender and class issues in his times? Why haven't we seen more attempts to link race, gender, and class in his fiction? Why is it still rare to see race considered in multiple dimensions--his images of and attitudes toward African Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, and immigrants considered together; his responses to racial sciences (ethnology, phrenology, physiognomy, etc.) and manifest destiny considered in light of his general skepticism toward the intellectual sensations of his times; his responses to abolition and anti-war/pro-war sentiments in the 1830s/1840s/1860s considered together; his immersion in party politics and American-English relations tied to issues of American expansionism, imperialism, and transatlantic and transpacific trade--in Hawthorne criticism? And why has there still been much more attention devoted to his longer works of the 1850s and 1860s (finished and unfinished) with respect to race than focused on his earlier works, particularly of the 1830s and 1840s? Is there someone out there doing this kind of synthetic work who's willing to share it with me, or do I have to do it myself in my book?