The Devil's Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South

The Devil's Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South

by Catherine Clinton
     
 
When Europeans settled in the early South, they quarreled over many things--but few imbroglios were so fierce as battles over land. Landowners wrangled bitterly over boundaries with neighbors and contested areas became known as "the devil's lane." Violence and bloodshed were but some of the consequences to befall those who ventured into these disputed territories.

Overview

When Europeans settled in the early South, they quarreled over many things--but few imbroglios were so fierce as battles over land. Landowners wrangled bitterly over boundaries with neighbors and contested areas became known as "the devil's lane." Violence and bloodshed were but some of the consequences to befall those who ventured into these disputed territories. The Devil's Lane highlights important new work on sexuality, race, and gender in the South from the seventeenth- to the nineteenth-centuries. Contributors explore legal history by examining race, crime and punishment, sex across the color line, and slander. Emerging stars and established scholars such as Peter Wood and Carol Berkin weave together the fascinating story of competing agendas and clashing cultures on the southern frontier. One chapter focuses on a community's resistance to a hermaphrodite, where the town court conducted a series of "examinations" to determine the individual's gender. Other pieces address topics ranging from resistance to sexual exploitation on the part of slave women to spousal murders, from interpreting women's expressions of religious ecstasy to a pastor's sermons about depraved sinners and graphic depictions of carnage, all in the name of "exposing" evil, and from a case of infanticide to the practice of state-mandated castration. Several of the authors pay close attention to the social and personal dynamics of interracial women's networks and relationships across place and time. The Devil's Lane illuminates early forms of sexual oppression, inviting comparative questions about authority and violence, social attitudes and sexual tensions, the impact of slavery as well as the twisted course of race relations among blacks, whites, and Indians. Several scholars look particularly at the Gulf South, myopically neglected in traditional literature, and an outstanding feature of this collection. These eighteen original essays reveal why the intersection of sex and race marks an essential point of departure for understanding southern social relations, and a turning point for the field of colonial history. The rich, varied and distinctive experiences showcased in The Devil's Lane provides an extraordinary opportunity for readers interested in women's history, African American history, southern history, and especially colonial history to explore a wide range of exciting issues.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198027218
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
06/26/1997
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
674 KB

Meet the Author

Catherine Clinton is the author of several books on southern history, women's history, and Civil War studies including The Plantation Mistress, Half Sisters of History, Tara Revisited, and Divided Houses (OUP 1992). Michele Gillespie is Associate Professor of American history at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. Her book on labor in Georgia from the American Revolution to the Civil War is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press.

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