Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism: Reconfiguring Gender, Race, and Nation in American Antislavery Literature


Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism redefines the potential of American antislavery literature as a cultural and political imaginary by situating antislavery literature in specific transnational contexts and highlighting the role of women as producers, subjects, and audiences of antislavery literature. Pia Wiegmink draws attention to locales, authors, and webs of entanglement between texts, ideas, and people. Perceived through the lens of gender and transnationalism, American antislavery literature emerges as a body of writing that presents profoundly reconfigured literary imaginations of freedom and equality in the United States prior to the Civil War.

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Pia Wiegmink is Professor of Slavery and Dependency Studies at Bonn University, Germany. She is co-editor of German Entanglements with Slavery (Routledge, 2017) and American Cultures as Transnational Performance (Routledge, 2021).

For Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism, Pia Wiegmink received the 2020 EAAS Rob Kroes Award.
"The book is thoughtful, well written, and carefully researched from an interdisciplinary perspective. An indispensable guide to antislavery literature."

– J. W. Miller, in: Choice (2023) 61 (1).
List of Figures

1 Introduction

2 Mapping the Field
 1 Abolitionist Literature Matters
 2 Transnational American Antislavery Literature
 3 Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism

3 Friends of Freedom: Female Editorship and Transatlantic Communities of Affection in The Liberty Bell
 1 Abolitionist Print Culture and Gift-Giving
 2 The Gift Book as Chronicle of Transatlantic Affective Communities
 3 Fundraising for the Cause: The Annual Boston Antislavery Fair

4 Gendered Global Geographies of American Antislavery Literature in The Liberty Bell
 1 Haiti: Edmund Quincy’s “Two Nights in St. Domingo” (1843)
 2 Egypt: Maria Lowell’s “Africa” (1849)
 3 The United States: Elizabeth Barret Browning’s “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” (1848)

5 Travelling Beyond the Slave Narrative: African American Women’s Autobiography
 1 Revisiting the Slave Narrative: Discourses of Travel in Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)
 2 Reports From Russia and Jamaica: Nancy Prince’s Narrative of the Life and Times of Mrs. Nancy Prince (1850)
 3 Interlude: Nancy Prince’s Travel Account The West Indies (1841)
 4 Reversing Slave Itineraries: Eliza Potter’s A Hairdresser’s Experience in High Life (1859)

6 Travelling Letters of Antislavery: African American Women’s Epistolary Writing
 1 Sarah Parker Remond’s Epistolary Writing on Black Freedom of Movement
 2 Harriet Jacobs’s First Public Letter (1853) and Women’s Transatlantic Antislavery Epistolary Battles

7 Antislavery, Immigration, and German American Women’s Literature
 1 Alexander von Humboldt, Carl Schutz’ “True Americanism” (1859), and German American Abolitionist Self-Fashioning
 2 German Antislavery Sentiments and the Cult of German Womanhood in America: Talvj’s The Exiles (1852)
 3 German American Utopian Communities: Mathilde Franziska Anneke’s “Uhland in Texas” (1866)
 4 Coda: Ottilie Assing’s Writings on Frederick Douglass

8 Conclusion

Works Cited
Scholars and (post/graduate) students of slavery studies, abolition, American literature, (transnational) American studies, women’s studies, periodical studies, Atlantic history; academic libraries and institutes dedicated to research in the abovementioned fields.
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