From abolition through the years just before the civil rights struggle began, African American women recognized that a mixed-race woman made for a powerful and, at times, very useful figure in the battle for racial justice.The Mulatta and the Politics of Race traces many key instances in which black women have wielded the image of a racially mixed woman to assault the color line. In the oratory and fiction of black women from the late 1840s through the 1950s, Teresa C. Zackodnik finds the mulatta to be a metaphor of increasing potency. Before the Civil War white female abolitionists created the image of the "tragic mulatta," caught between races, rejected by all. African American women put the mulatta to diverse political use. Black women used the mulatta figure to invoke and manage American and British abolitionist empathy and to contest racial stereotypes of womanhood in the postbellum United States. The mulatta aided writers in critiquing the "New Negro Renaissance" and gave writers leverage to subvert the aims of mid-twentieth-century mainstream American culture.The Mulatta and the Politics of Race focuses on the antislavery lectures and appearances of Ellen Craft and Sarah Parker Remond, the domestic fiction of Pauline Hopkins and Frances Harper, the Harlem Renaissance novels of Jessie Fauset and Nella Larsen, and the little-known 1950s texts of Dorothy Lee Dickens and Reba Lee. Throughout, the author discovers the especially valuable and as yet unexplored contributions of these black women and their uses of the mulatta in prose and speech.Teresa C. Zackodnik is a professor of English at the University of Alberta in Canada.
This new collection of essays on American stage and film melodrama assesses the multifarious and contradictory uses to which melodrama has been put in American culture from the late 18th century to the present. It focuses on the various ways in which the genre has periodically intervened in debates over race, class, gender and sexuality and, in this manner, has also persistently contributed to the formation and transformation of American nationhood: from the debates over who constitutes the newborn nation in the Early Republic, to the subsequent conflict over abolition and the discussion of gender roles at the turn of the 19th century, to the fervent class struggles of the 1930s and the critiques of domestic containment in the 1950s, as well as to ongoing debates of gender, race, and sexuality today. Addressing these issues from a variety of different angles, including historical, aesthetic, cultural, phenomenological, and psychological approaches, these essays present a complex picture of the cultural work and passionate politics accomplished by melodrama over the course of the past two centuries, particularly at times of profound social change.
This book focuses on the mixed-race female slave in literature, arguing that this figure became a symbol for explorations of race and nation - both of which were in crisis in the mid-19th century. It suggests that the figure is a way of understanding the volatile and shifting interface of race and national identity in the antebellum period.
This collection examines the intersections between the personal and the political in travel writing, and the dialectic between mobility and stasis, through an analysis of specific cases across geographical and historical boundaries. The authors explore the various ways in which travel texts represent actual political conditions and thus engage in discussions about national, transnational, and global citizenship; how they propose real-world political interventions in the places where the traveler goes; what tone they take toward political or socio-political violence; and how they intersect with political debates. Travel writing can be viewed as political in a purely instrumental sense, but, as this volume also demonstrates, travel writing’s reception and ideological interventions also transform personal and cultural realities. This book thus examines the ways in which politics’ material effects inform and intersect with personal experience in travel texts and engage with travel’s dialectic of mobility and stasis. In spite of globalization and efforts to eradicate the colonial vision in travel writing and in travel writing criticism, this vision persists in various and complex ways. While the travelogue can be a space of discursive and direct oppression, these essays suggest that the travelogue is also a narrative space in which the traveler employs the genre to assert authority over his or her experiences of mobility. This book will be an important contribution for interdisciplinary scholars with interests in travel writing studies, global and transnational studies, women’s studies, multicultural studies, the social sciences, and history.
The tragic mulatta was a stock figure in nineteenth-century American literature, an attractive mixed-race woman who became a casualty of the color line. The tragic muse was an equally familiar figure in Victorian British culture, an exotic and alluring Jewish actress whose profession placed her alongside the “fallen woman.” In Transatlantic Spectacles of Race, Kimberly Manganelli argues that the tragic mulatta and tragic muse, who have heretofore been read separately, must be understood as two sides of the same phenomenon. In both cases, the eroticized and racialized female body is put on public display, as a highly enticing commodity in the nineteenth-century marketplace. Tracing these figures through American, British, and French literature and culture, Manganelli constructs a host of surprising literary genealogies, from Zelica to Daniel Deronda, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Lady Audley’s Secret. Bringing together an impressive array of cultural texts that includes novels, melodramas, travel narratives, diaries, and illustrations, Transatlantic Spectacles of Race reveals the value of transcending literary, national, and racial boundaries.
Brazil markets itself as a racially mixed utopia. The United States prefers the term melting pot. Both nations have long used the image of the mulatta to push skewed cultural narratives. Highlighting the prevalence of mixed race women of African and European descent, the two countries claim to have perfected racial representation—all the while ignoring the racialization, hypersexualization, and white supremacy that the mulatta narrative creates. Jasmine Mitchell investigates the development and exploitation of the mulatta figure in Brazilian and U.S. popular culture. Drawing on a wide range of case studies, she analyzes policy debates and reveals the use of mixed-Black female celebrities as subjects of racial and gendered discussions. Mitchell also unveils the ways the media moralizes about the mulatta figure and uses her as an example of an ”acceptable” version of blackness that at once dreams of erasing undesirable blackness while maintaining the qualities that serve as outlets for interracial desire.
Analyzing representations of multiracial figures in popular culture, Ralina L. Joseph identifies two widespread stereotypes of mixed-race African Americans: those of "the new millennium mulattas" and "the exceptional multiracials."
The conventional view of the family in the nineteenth-century novel holds that it venerated the traditional domestic unit as a model of national belonging. Contesting this interpretation, American Blood argues that many authors of the period challenged preconceptions of the family and portrayed it as a detriment to true democracy and, by extension, the political enterprise of the United States. Relying on works by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wells Brown, Pauline Hopkins, and others, Holly Jackson reveals family portraits that are claustrophobic, antidemocratic, and even unnatural. The novels examined here welcome, in Jackson's reading, the decline of the family and the exclusionary white-privileging American social order that it supported. Embracing and imagining this decline, the novels examined here incorporate and celebrate the very practices that mainstream Americans felt were the most dangerous to the family as an institution-interracial sex, doomed marriages, homosexuality, and the willful rejection of reproduction. In addition to historicized readings, the monograph also highlights how formal narrative characteristics served to heighten their anti-familial message: according to Jackson, the false starts, interpolated plots, and narrative dead-ends prominent in novels like The House of the Seven Gables and Dred are formal iterations of the books' interest in disrupting the family as a privileged ideological site. In sum, American Blood offers a much-needed corrective that will generate fresh insights into nineteenth-century literature and culture.
Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine, Lisa Ze Winters contends that the uniformity of these representations conceals the figure’s centrality to the practices and production of diaspora. Beginning with a meditation on what captive black subjects may have seen and remembered when encountering free women of color living in slave ports, the book traces the echo of the free mulatta concubine across the physical and imaginative landscapes of three Atlantic sites: Gorée Island, New Orleans, and Saint Domingue (Haiti). Ze Winters mines an archive that includes a 1789 political petition by free men of color, a 1737 letter by a free black mother on behalf of her daughter, antebellum newspaper reports, travelers’ narratives, ethnographies, and Haitian Vodou iconography. Attentive to the tenuousness of freedom, Ze Winters argues that the concubine figure’s manifestation as both historical subject and African diasporic goddess indicates her centrality to understanding how free and enslaved black subjects performed gender, theorized race and freedom, and produced their own diasporic identities.