The Problem of Embodiment in Early African American Narrative

Overview

Offering a revolutionary way of reading 19th-century slave narratives, Fishburn seeks to recover the philosophical foundations of African American literature. Underlying slave narrative is an expression of the problem of physical embodiment; that is, the dualistic thinking of the mind-body division. Fishburn's work uncovers the tension between needing to acknowledge the fact of human embodiment and wishing to overcome its consequences in a racist society. One of the strongest points made by this pioneering work ...

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Overview

Offering a revolutionary way of reading 19th-century slave narratives, Fishburn seeks to recover the philosophical foundations of African American literature. Underlying slave narrative is an expression of the problem of physical embodiment; that is, the dualistic thinking of the mind-body division. Fishburn's work uncovers the tension between needing to acknowledge the fact of human embodiment and wishing to overcome its consequences in a racist society. One of the strongest points made by this pioneering work is the controversial claim that these slave narratives offer one of the most telling, if largely overlooked, pre-Heideggerian critiques of liberal humanism ever attempted in the West.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Examines the notions of the body and of being that existed in the culture of the slaves, and how it informed the African American literature that followed. The author boldly suggests that a hatred of the body marks much of Western thought and religion, and that this hatred has contributed to atrocities like the enslavement of Africans in the new world, and the Nazi Holocaust. She argues that the early African American narratives that recalled us to our bodies offered a deeper ontological understanding, and since our bodies understand our relation to each other through being, the narratives are as potentially therapeutic in our own alienated, pain-driven time as they were when they were written. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

KATHERINE FISHBURN is Professor of English at Michigan State University, where she teaches courses in African American literature, twentieth-century literature, women's literature, and cultural studies.

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Table of Contents

Preface: What the Body Knows
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Seeing Otherwise 1
1 Thinking Through the Body 29
2 The Body's Recollection of Being 53
3 Disappearing Acts 93
Epilogue: Justice in the Flesh 137
Bibliography 157
Index 175
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