Women in Chains: The Legacy of Slavery in Black Women's Fiction

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Overview

Using writers such as Harriet Wilson, Frances E. W. Harper, Pauline Hopkins, Toni Morrison, Sherley Anne Williams, and Gayl Jones, the author highlights recurring themes and the various responses of black women writers to the issues of race and gender. Time and again these writers link slavery with motherhood--their depictions of black womanhood are tied to the effects of slavery and represented through the black mother. Patton shows that both the image others have of black women as well as black women's own self image is framed and influenced by the history of slavery. This history would have us believe that female slaves were mere breeders and not mothers. However, Patton uses the mother figure as a tool to create an intriguing interdisciplinary literary analysis.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Looking at the work of such writers as Harriet Wilson, Frances E. W. Harper, Pauline Hopkins, Toni Morrison, Sherley Anne Williams, and Gayl Jones, Patton (English and African-American studies, U. of Nebraska-Lincoln) finds that they repeatedly link slavery with motherhood. She shows that the image of black women by others and themselves is framed and influenced by a portrayal of women slaves as mere breeders and not mothers. These writers, she says, counter the image with that of the mother. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Venetria K. Patton
Venetria K. Patton is Director of African American Studies and Research Center and Associate Professor of English at Purdue University. Prior to her appointment at Purdue, Dr. Patton was an Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she served in a number of administrative capacities including a term as Coordinator of African American and African Studies. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of La Verne and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of California-Riverside. Dr. Patton's teaching and research focus on African American and Diasporic Women's Literature. In 2003, she won two teaching awards: the Annis Chaiken Sorensen Distinguished Teaching Award in the Arts and Humanities and the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the author of The Grasp That Reaches Beyond the Grave: the Ancestral Call in Black Women's Texts (SUNY, 2013) and Women in Chains: The Legacy of Slavery in Black Women's Fiction (SUNY, 2000), the Co-editor of Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology (Rutgers, 2001) and editor of Background Readings for Teachers of American Literature: (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006). Dr. Patton is Chair of the Purdue Black Caucus of Faculty and Staff and a board member of the Hanna Community Center and the National Council for Black Studies. She has spoken to both academic and general audiences regarding African American literature, navigating higher education, Kwanzaa, and other African American topics.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xi
1. The Breeding Ground: The Degendering of Female Slaves 1
2. The Cult of True Womanhood and Its Revisions 29
3. Reclaiming True Womanhood 53
4. Tragic Mulattas: Inventing Black Womanhood 93
5. The Haunting Effects of Slavery 121
Conclusion 149
Notes 151
Bibliography 175
Index 187
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