Search Results

Harriet Wilson's Our Nig

A Cultural Biography of a "Two-Story" African American Novel


R.J. Ellis

Addressed to all readers of Our Nig, from professional scholars of African American writing through to a more general readership, this book explores both Our Nig’s key cultural contexts and its historical and literary significance as a narrative.
Harriet E. Wilson’s Our Nig (1859) is a startling tale of the mistreatment of a young African American mulatto woman, Frado, living in New England at a time when slavery, though abolished in the North, still existed in the South. Frado, a Northern ‘free black’, yet treated as badly as many Southern slaves of the time, is unforgettably portrayed as experiencing and resisting vicious mistreatment.
To achieve this disturbing portrait, Harriet Wilson’s book combines several different literary genres – realist novel, autobiography, abolitionist slave narrative and sentimental fiction. R.J. Ellis explores the relationship of Our Nig to these genres and, additionally, to laboring class writing (Harriet Wilson was an indentured farm servant). He identifies the way Our Nig stands as a double first: the first separately-published novel written in English by an African American female it is also one of the first by a member of the laboring class about the laboring class. This study explores how, as a result, Our Nig tells a series of disturbing two-stories about America’s constitutional guarantee of ‘freedom’ and the way these relate to Frado’s farm life.

Gothic to Multicultural

Idioms of Imagining in American Literary Fiction


A. Robert Lee

Gothic to Multicultural: Idioms of Imagining in American Literary Fiction, twenty-three essays each carefully revised from the past four decades, explores both range and individual register. The collection opens with considerations of gothic as light and dark in Charles Brockden Brown, war and peace in Cooper’s The Spy, Antarctica as world-genesis in Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, the link of “The Custom House” and main text in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, reflexive codings in Melville’s Moby-Dick and The Confidence-Man, Henry James’ Hawthorne as self-mirroring biography, and Stephen Crane’s working of his Civil War episode in The Red Badge of Courage. Two composite lineages address apocalypse in African American fiction and landscape in women’s authorship from Sarah Orne Jewett to Leslie Marmon Silko. There follow culture and anarchy in Henry James’ The Princess Casamassima, text-into-film in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, modernist stylings in Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Hemingway, and roman noir in Cornell Woolrich. The collection then turns to the limitations of protest categorization for Richard Wright and Chester Himes, autofiction in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, and the novel of ideas in Robert Penn Warren’s late fiction. Three closing essays take up multicultural genealogy, Harlem, then the Black South, in African American fiction, and the reclamation of voice in Native American fiction.

Border Transits

Literature and Culture across the Line


Edited by Ana María Manzanas

What constitutes a border situation? How translatable and “portable” is the border? What are the borders of words surrounding the border? In its five sections, Border Transits: Literature and Culture across the Line intends to address these issues as it brings together visions of border dynamics from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The volume opens with “Part I: (B)orders and lines: A Theoretical Intervention,” which explores the circle and the cross as spatial configurations of two contradictory urges, to separate and divide on the one hand, and to welcome and allow passage on the other. “Part II: Visions of the Mexican-US Border” zooms in onto the Mexican-United States border as it delves into the border transits between the two neighboring countries. But what happens when we situate the border on the cultural terrain? How well does the border travel? “Part III: Cultural Intersections” expands the border encounter as it deals with the different ways in which texts are encoded, registered, appropriated, mimicked and transformed in other cultural texts. “Part IV: Trans-Nations,” addresses instances of trans-American relations stemming from experiences of up-rooting and intercultural contacts in the context of mass-migration and migratory flows. Finally, “Part V: Trans-Lations,” deals with the ways in which the cultural borderlands suffuse other discourses and cultural practices.
The volume is of interest for scholars and researchers in the field of Border studies, Chicano studies, “Ethnic Studies,” as well as American Literature and Culture

Re-Membering the Black Atlantic

On the Poetics and Politics of Literary Memory


Lars Eckstein

The Atlantic slave trade continues to haunt the cultural memories of Africa, Europe and the Americas. There is a prevailing desire to forget: While victims of the African diaspora tried to flee the sites of trauma, enlightened Westerners preferred to be oblivious to the discomforting complicity between their enlightenment and chattel slavery. Recently, however, fiction writers have ventured to ‘re-member’ the Black Atlantic.
This book is concerned with how literature performs as memory. It sets out to chart systematically the ways in which literature and memory intersect, and offers readings of three seminal Black Atlantic novels. Each reading illustrates a particular poetic strategy of accessing the past and presents a distinct political outlook on memory. Novelists may choose to write back to texts, images or music: Caryl Phillips’s Cambridge brings together numerous fragments of slave narratives, travelogues and histories to shape a brilliant montage of long-forgotten texts. David Dabydeen’s A Harlot’s Progress approaches slavery through the gateway of paintings by William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds and J.M.W. Turner. Toni Morrison’s Beloved, finally, is steeped in black music, from spirituals and blues to the art of John Coltrane. Beyond differences in poetic strategy, moreover, the novels paradigmatically reveal distinct ideologies: their politics of memory variously promote an encompassing transcultural sense of responsibility, an aestheticist ‘creative amnesia’, and the need to preserve a collective ‘black’ identity.

Yvon van der Pijl and Karina Goulordava

of the Netherlands, accompanied by numerous men and women dressed in costume as Black Pete ( Zwarte Piet ). They are eagerly greeted by thousands of Dutch people, children and adults alike, who have waited impatiently several weeks for their arrival. After the official welcoming event, most Dutch

Black Protestants in a Catholic Land

The AME Church in the Dominican Republic 1899–1916

Christina Cecelia Davidson

In 1916, the African Methodist Episcopal ( AME ) Church—a historically black Church founded in 1816 in the United States—was one of several Protestant denominations growing rapidly in the Dominican Republic as thousands of laborers from the British Caribbean migrated to sugar plantations in

Mindie Lazarus-Black

and what was happening “on the ground.” If slaves were to be held publically accountable, they had to be brought to the law’s attention. That did not always happen. And even when it did, courts sometimes ruled on the slaves’ behalf or chose to dismiss the cases against them (Elsa Goveia in Lazarus-Black