Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America

TitleScenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsHartman, Saidiya
Number of Pages289
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York
Abstract

In the tradition of Eric Lott's award-winning Love and Theft, Hartman's new book shows how the violence of captivity and enslavement was embodied in many of the performance practices that grew from, and about, slave culture in antebellum America. Using tools from anthropology and history aswell as literary criticism, she examines a wealth of material, including songs, dance, stories, diaries, narratives, and journals to provide new insights into a range of issues. She looks particularly at the presentations of slavery and blackness in minstrelsy, melodrama, and the sentimental novel;the disparity between actual slave culture and "managed" plantation amusements; the construction of slave culture in nineteenth-century ethnographic writing; the rhetorical performance of slave law and slave narratives; the dimension of slave performance practice; and the political consciousness offolklore. Particularly provocative is her analysis of the slave pen and auction block, which transmogrified terror into theatre, and her reading of the rhetoric of seduction in slavery law and legal cases concerning rape. Persuasively showing that the exercise of power is inseparable from itsdisplay, Scenes of Subjection will interest readers involved in a wide range of historical, literary, and cultural studies. [UNC Libraries]

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