Scenes of Subjection

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

4.47 (228 ratings by Goodreads)
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In this provocative and original exploration of racial subjugation during slavery and its aftermath, Saidiya Hartman illumines the forms of terror and resistance that shaped black identity. Scenes of Subjection examines the forms of domination that usually go undetected; in particular, the encroachments of power that take place through notions of humanity, enjoyment, protection, rights, and consent. By looking at slave narratives, plantation diaries, popular theater, slave performance, freedmen's primers, and legal cases, Hartman investigates a wide variety of "scenes" ranging from the auction block and minstrel show to the staging of the self-possessed and rights-bearing individual of freedom. While attentive to the performance of power-the terrible spectacles of slaveholders' dominion and the innocent amusements designed to abase and pacify the enslaved-and the entanglements of pleasure and terror in these displays of mastery, Hartman also examines the possibilities for resistance, redress and transformation embodied in black performance and everyday practice. This important study contends that despite the legal abolition of slavery, emergent notions of individual will and responsibility revealed the tragic continuities between slavery and freedom. Bold and persuasively argued, Scenes of Subjection will engage readers in a broad range of historical, literary, and cultural more

Product details

  • Paperback | 296 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 408.23g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195089847
  • 9780195089844
  • 356,210

Review quote

Well worth close attention, however, since Hartman relies o n extensive and intensive scholarly research to challenge the apparently major distinctions between slavery and emancipation and to encourage our recognition that there have been no dramatic historical turning points for black Americans." Journal of Southern History ...a profoundly important subject...the author explores anew the calculated use of both blatantly overt and seemingly subtler forms of control over black bodies and black psyches. * Mississippi Quarterly * American historians, especially historians of the South, will learn much from Secenes of Subjection * The Journal of American History * A tour de force. * American Literature * Audacious....Original and provocative....What Hartman has to say about both slavery and its continuing resonances should be heard as widely as possible....A major scholarly contribution to the project of expanding and refining the nation's political memory. * The Nation *show more

About Saidiya V. Hartman

Saidiya Hartman is Associate Professor of English at the University of California-Berkeleyshow more

Rating details

228 ratings
4.47 out of 5 stars
5 61% (139)
4 29% (67)
3 7% (15)
2 2% (5)
1 1% (2)
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