The Devil's Lane

The Devil's Lane : Sex and Race in the Early South

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When Europeans settled in the early South, they quarreled over many things-but few imbroglios were so fierce as battles over land. Landowners wrangled bitterly over boundaries with neighbors and contested areas became known as "the devil's lane." Violence and bloodshed were but some of the consequences to befall those who ventured into these disputed territories. The Devil's Lane highlights important new work on sexuality, race, and gender in the South from the seventeenth- to the nineteenth-centuries. Contributors explore legal history by examining race, crime and punishment, sex across the color line, and slander. Emerging stars and established scholars such as Peter Wood and Carol Berkin weave together the fascinating story of competing agendas and clashing cultures on the southern frontier. One chapter focuses on a community's resistance to a hermaphrodite, where the town court conducted a series of "examinations" to determine the individual's gender. Other pieces address topics ranging from resistance to sexual exploitation on the part of slave women to spousal murders, from interpreting women's expressions of religious ecstasy to a pastor's sermons about depraved sinners and graphic depictions of carnage, all in the name of "exposing" evil, and from a case of infanticide to the practice of state-mandated castration. Several of the authors pay close attention to the social and personal dynamics of interracial women's networks and relationships across place and time. The Devil's Lane illuminates early forms of sexual oppression, inviting comparative questions about authority and violence, social attitudes and sexual tensions, the impact of slavery as well as the twisted course of race relations among blacks, whites, and Indians. Several scholars look particularly at the Gulf South, myopically neglected in traditional literature, and an outstanding feature of this collection. These eighteen original essays reveal why the intersection of sex and race marks an essential point of departure for understanding southern social relations, and a turning point for the field of colonial history. The rich, varied and distinctive experiences showcased in The Devil's Lane provides an extraordinary opportunity for readers interested in women's history, African American history, southern history, and especially colonial history to explore a wide range of exciting more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 155.4 x 233.7 x 21.8mm | 398.12g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 3 line illus.
  • 0195112431
  • 9780195112436
  • 2,022,239

About Catherine Clinton

Catherine Clinton is the author of several books on southern history, women's history, and Civil War studies including The Plantation Mistress, Half Sisters of History, Tara Revisited, and Divided Houses (OUP 1992). Michele Gillespie is Associate Professor of American history at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. Her book on labor in Georgia from the American Revolution to the Civil War is forthcoming from the University of Georgia more

Review quote

Some of the most provocative and exciting recent work on race, gender, and sexuality in southern colonial history." - -Religious Studies Review An excellent collection of scholarship on the early South that highlights opportunities for future research on gender and race." The Alabama Review This collection of seventeen essays by both established and emerging scholars is as felicitous an introduction for newcomers as it is an update for veterans of the 'brawling, sprawling convivial enterprise' that is early southern history....The power of this collection lies in its ability to convey the labyrinthine quality of racial and gender structures. * Catherine Kerrison, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography * The inventive methodologies and high quality of the research and analysis make this pathbreaking collection an outstanding contribution to the scholarship of the American South. Certainly this exciting book will bring the early South newly alive for many readers. * William and Mary Quarterly * The Devil's Lane is useful for those who would understand gender and race in the eastern United States before 1800, and for those who seek ideas for a broader understanding of the Southwest. * Southwestern Historical Quarterly *show more

Rating details

16 ratings
4.25 out of 5 stars
5 44% (7)
4 38% (6)
3 19% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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