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Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women and Power in Gothic Novels and Slave Narratives, 1790-1865

Winter, Kari J.

ISBN 10: 082031420X / ISBN 13: 9780820314204
Published by University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA, 1992
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

172pp. DJ has scattered dirtmarks, shelfwear. Covered with mylar. Foreedges (top and side) show staining of some kind - scattered. Inscribed by author to former owner. Contents clean and unmarked. Overall fine condition. Bookseller Inventory # 13200

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women...

Publisher: University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA

Publication Date: 1992

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: By Author

Edition: First Edition

About this title


In "Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change", Kari J. Winter compares the ways in which two marginalized genres of women's writing - female Gothic novels and slave narratives - represent the oppression of women and their resistance to oppression. Analyzing the historical contexts in which Gothic novels and slave narratives were written, Winter shows that both types of writing expose the sexual politics at the heart of patriarchal culture and both represent the terrifying aspects of life for women. Female Gothic novelists such as Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Ann Radcliffe, and Mary Shelley uncover the terror of the familiar - the routine brutality and injustice of the partriarchal family and of conventional religion, as well as the intersecting oppressions of gender and class. Indeed, they represent the world as, in Mary Wollstonecraft's words, "a vast prison" in which women are "born slaves". Writing during the same period, Harriet Jacobs, Nancy Prince, and other ex-slaves in America expose the "all-pervading corruption" of southern slavery. Their narratives combine strident attacks on the patriarchal order with criticism of white women's own racism and classism. These texts challenge white women to repudiate their complicity in a racist culture and to join their black sisters in a war against the "peculiar institution". Winter explores as well the ways that Gothic heroines and slave women resisted subjugation. Moments of escape from the horrors of patriarchal domination provide the protagonists with essential periods of respite from pain. Because this escape is never more than temporary, however, both female gothic novels and slave narratives conclude tensely. The novelists refuse to affirm either hope or despair, thereby calling into question the conventional endings of marriage or death. And although slave narratives were typically framed by white-authored texts, containment of the black voice did not diminish the inherent revolutionary conclusion of antislavery writing. According to Winter, both Gothic novels and slave narratives suggest that although women are victims and mediators of the dominant order, they also can become agents of historical change.

About the Author:

Kari J. Winter is a professor of American studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is editor of "The Blind African Slave: or, Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nick-named Jeffrey Brace."

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