Belabored Professions: Narratives of African American Working Womanhood / Edition 1

Belabored Professions: Narratives of African American Working Womanhood / Edition 1

by Xiomara Santamarina
     
 

ISBN-10: 0807856487

ISBN-13: 9780807856482

Pub. Date: 10/31/2005

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press

According to nineteenth-century racial uplift ideology, African American women served their race best as reformers and activists, or as "doers of the word." In Belabored Professions, Xiomara Santamarina examines the autobiographies of four women who diverged from that ideal and defended the legitimacy of their self-supporting wage labor.

Santamarina

Overview

According to nineteenth-century racial uplift ideology, African American women served their race best as reformers and activists, or as "doers of the word." In Belabored Professions, Xiomara Santamarina examines the autobiographies of four women who diverged from that ideal and defended the legitimacy of their self-supporting wage labor.

Santamarina focuses on The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Eliza Potter's A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life, Harriet Wilson's Our Nig, and Elizabeth Keckley's Behind the Scenes. She argues that beyond black reformers' calls for abolitionist work, these former slaves and freeborn black women wrote about their own overlooked or disparaged work as socially and culturally valuable to the nation. They promoted the status of wage labor as a mark of self-reliance and civic virtue when many viewed African American working women as "drudges." As Santamarina demonstrates, these texts offer modern readers new perspectives on the emergence of the vital African American autobiographical tradition, dramatizing the degree to which black working women participated in and shaped American rhetorics of labor, race, and femininity.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807856482
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
10/31/2005
Edition description:
1
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.58(d)

Table of Contents


Contents

Preface. It Is No Disgrace for Either Sex to Engage in An Honorable Employment

Acknowledgements

Introduction. From Fields to White House

Part I. Constraints

Chapter 1. Race, Work, and Literary Authority in The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Chapter 2. The View from Below: Menial Labor and Self-Reliance in Harriet Wilson's Our Nig

Part II. Opportunities

Chapter 3. Enterprising Women and the Labors of Femininity: Eliza Potter, Cincinnati Hairdresser

Chapter 4. Behind the Scenes of Black Labor: Elizabeth Keckley and the Scandal of Publicity

Coda. Moving Beyond Antebellum Reform: African American Working Women and their Traditions

Notes

Index

Illustrations

Slave women working on the roads in South Carolina

Elleanor Eldridge

Sojourner Truth

Cincinnati Daily Gazette review of A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life, October 19, 1859

Cincinnati Daily Commercial review of A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life, October 20, 1859

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