Specters of Democracy

Specters of Democracy : Blackness and the Aesthetics of Politics in the Antebellum U.S

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Description

Specters of Democracy interrogates the representational strategies that nineteenth-century Americans used in art and literature to delineate blackness as an index to the forms of U.S. citizenship. The book reveals how the difficult task of representing African Americans-both enslaved and free-in imaginative expression was part of a larger dilemma concerning representative democracy. More specifically, the book analyzes how African Americans manipulated aurality and visuality in art that depicted images of national belonging not only as a mode of critique but as an iteration or articulation of democratic representation itself. Such a turn to culture as a particular arena where African Americans had varying levels of agency is all the more necessary in the years before they were ostensibly granted access to formal political structures with the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. Recovering important aspects of the African American presence in the debates about democracy and citizenship, this book focuses on the mutual engagement with the national idioms by both black and white Americans and illustrates how African Americans in particular deployed artistic practices to enact a more egalitarian society.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 252 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 20.32mm | 385.55g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195337379
  • 9780195337372

Review quote

...Wilson aims to forge a new understanding of black citizenship, which began to move from shadow to substance in the era before the Civil War. Specialists will appreciate Wilson's ambitious argument... * CHOICE * Brilliantly conceived, and written with uncommon verve, Specters of Democracy surprises at every turn. Wilson's core argument, supported by a rich body of evidence from literature and art especially, should inspire fresh readings of the subject of race in nineteenth-century America. His book casts a brave new light on our understanding of this vexed but vital topic. * Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University * Specters of Democracy gives close attention to visual media, providing a suggestive new theorization of how visual and aural aspects of print culture help produce U.S. democracy. * Dana D. Nelson, Vanderbilt University * Navigating brilliantly between representations of blacks and traces of blackness in nineteenth-century U.S. formations of democracy and citizenship, Ivy Wilson balances a compelling, informed reading of literary and visual texts with a persuasive, creative linkage of aesthetics, rhetoric, politics, and cultural studies. * Thadious M. Davis, University of Pennsylvania * In Specters of Democracy, Wilson provides a brilliant reconceptualization of American democracy, positing it as an institution which, from its very origins, was constituted by the shadowy presence of its black subjects. Drawing upon representations from a variety of artistic forms, and with deft and detailed consideration of their sensory as well as intellectual and emotional impacts, Wilson's careful textual analyses are matched by his remarkable acuity with legal and political theory. * Imani Perry, Princeton University *show more

About Ivy G. Wilson

Wilson is Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University.show more

Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS; INTRODUCTION. IN THE SHADOWS OF CITIZENSHIP: AFRICAN AMERICANS AND THE ALTERITY OF DEMOCRACY; VERSION AND SUBVERSION: THE AURALITY OF DEMOCRATIC RHETORIC; IMAGINING THE NATION AND DEMOCRATIC VISUALITY; CONCLUSION. SHADOW AND ACT REDUX; WORKS CITEDshow more

Rating details

6 ratings
4.5 out of 5 stars
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4 17% (1)
3 17% (1)
2 0% (0)
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