Fugitive Vision
Now in Paperback

Fugitive Vision

Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative
Michael A. Chaney
Distribution: World
Publication date: 2/24/2009
Format: paper 272 pages, 30 b&w photos
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-22108-7
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Description

Analyzing the impact of black abolitionist iconography on early black literature and the formation of black identity, Fugitive Vision examines the writings of Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, William and Ellen Craft, and Harriet Jacobs, and the slave potter David Drake. Juxtaposing pictorial and literary representations, the book argues that the visual offered an alternative to literacy for current and former slaves, whose works mobilize forms of illustration that subvert dominant representations of slavery by both apologists and abolitionists. From a portrait of Douglass's mother as Ramses to the incised snatches of proverb and prophecy on Dave the Potter's ceramics, the book identifies a "fugitive vision" that reforms our notions of antebellum black identity, literature, and cultural production.

Author Bio

Michael A. Chaney is Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth College.

Reviews

"An eye-opening analysis of major sites, figures, and figurations of African American authorship." —Ezra Greenspan, Southern Methodist University

"[T]his startlingly original, meticulously researched study opens up new ways of considering the acts of self-representation in visual objects and literary texts by African Americans." —
American Literature

". . . the scholarship is excellent . . . Chaney’s readings are exhaustive, persuasive, and murkily brilliant." —Journal of American History

". . . emphasizes the relationship between the literary character of slave narratives and the iconic images that often accompanied those narratives in the form of frontispieces, illustrations, or panoramas. [The author's] attention to both the visual and the verbal elements of African American culture challenges and complicates the now-classic studies of slave narrative that tend to highlight the mastery of literacy as the key to self-mastery and, thus, liberty." —Common-place.org

"Fugitive Vision [is] an important and well-researched study . . . Michael A. Chaney makes a distinct contribution to the literature about slave-born men and women who were dedicated to the permanent liberation of minds and bodies." —American Studies

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Looking Beyond and Through the Fugitive Icon
Part 1. Fugitive Gender: Black Mothers, White Faces, Sanguine Sons
1. Racing and Erasing the Slave Mother: Frederick Douglass, Parodic Looks, and Ethnographic Illustration
2. Looking for Slavery at the Crystal Palace: William Wells Brown and the Politics of Exhibition(ism)
3. The Uses in Seeing: Mobilizing the Portrait in Drag in Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom
Part 2. Still Moving: Revamped Technologies of Surveillance
4. Panoramic Bodies: From Banvard's Mississippi to Brown's Iron Collar
5. The Mulatta in the Camera: Harriet Jacobs's Historicist Gazing and Dion Boucicault's Mulatta Obscura
6. Throwing Identity in the Poetry-Pottery of Dave the Potter
Conclusion
Notes
Works Cited
Index
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