The Plantation in the Postslavery Imagination

The Plantation in the Postslavery Imagination

by Elizabeth Christine Russ
     
 

In a provocative new approach toward understanding transnational literary cultures, this study examines the specter of the plantation, that physical place most vividly associated with slavery in the Americas. For Elizabeth Russ, the plantation is not merely a literal location, but also a vexing rhetorical, ideological, and psychological trope through which

Overview

In a provocative new approach toward understanding transnational literary cultures, this study examines the specter of the plantation, that physical place most vividly associated with slavery in the Americas. For Elizabeth Russ, the plantation is not merely a literal location, but also a vexing rhetorical, ideological, and psychological trope through which intersecting histories of the New World are told. Through a series of precise, in-depth readings, Russ analyzes the discourse of the plantation through a number of suggestive pairings: male and female perspectives; U.S. and Spanish American traditions; and continental alongside island societies.

To chart comparative elements in the development of the postslavery imagination in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, Russ distinguishes between a modern and a postmodern imaginary. The former privileges a familiar plot of modernity: the traumatic transition from a local, largely agrarian order to an increasingly anonymous industrialized society. The latter, abandoning nostalgia toward the past, suggests a new history using the strategies of performance, such as witnessing, reticency, and traversal. Authors examined include The Twelve Southerners, Fernando Ortiz, Teresa de la Parra, Eudora Welty, Antonio Benítez Rojo, Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, and Mayra Santos-Febres, among others.

Applying sharp analyses across a broad range of texts, Russ reveals how the language used to imagine communities influenced by the plantation has been gendered, racialized, and eroticized in ways that oppose the domination of an ever-shifting "North" while often reproducing the fundamental power divide. Her work moves beyond the North-South dichotomy that has often stymied scholarly work in Latin American studies and, importantly, provides a model for future hemispheric approaches.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[S]he provides tools with which to think about complex or problematic transnational artistic works, literary and otherwise, that reflect cross-cultural postslavery imaginations and literally or symbolically recall the plantation." —Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal

"Timely and convincing, this is a highly original-ground-breaking is not too strong a world-reflection on the legacy of the plantation in the fictions of the Americas, North and South. A welcome addition to the burgeoning field of hemispheric American literary and cultural studies."-Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Columbia University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195377156
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
11/06/2009
Series:
Imagining the Americas Series
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.70(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Christine Russ is Associate Professor of Spanish Language and Latin American Literature at Southern Methodist University.

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