Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Politics in the Antebellum U.S.

Paperback | June 9, 2011

byIvy G. Wilson

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Specters of Democracy interrogates the representational strategies that nineteenth-century Americans used in art and literature to delineate blackness as an index to the forms of U.S. citizenship. The book reveals how the difficult task of representing African Americans - both enslaved andfree - in imaginative expression was part of a larger dilemma concerning representative democracy. More specifically, the book analyzes how African Americans manipulated aurality and visuality in art that depicted images of national belonging not only as a mode of critique but as an iteration orarticulation of democratic representation itself.Such a turn to culture as a particular arena where African Americans had varying levels of agency is all the more necessary in the years before they were ostensibly granted access to formal political structures with the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. Recovering important aspects of the AfricanAmerican presence in the debates about democracy and citizenship, this book focuses on the mutual engagement with the national idioms by both black and white Americans and illustrates how African Americans in particular deployed artistic practices to enact a more egalitarian society.

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Specters of Democracy interrogates the representational strategies that nineteenth-century Americans used in art and literature to delineate blackness as an index to the forms of U.S. citizenship. The book reveals how the difficult task of representing African Americans - both enslaved andfree - in imaginative expression was part of a ...

Ivy G. Wilson is Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:June 9, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195340353

ISBN - 13:9780195340358

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction. In the Shadows of Citizenship: African Americans and the Alterity of DemocracyVersion and Subversion: The Aurality of Democratic Rhetoric1. Frederick Douglass's "Glib-tongue": African American Rhetoric and the Language of National Belonging2. Merely Rhetorical: Virtual Democracy in Clotel3. Rhythm Nation: African American Poetics and the Discourse of Freedom4. Black and Tan Fantasy: Walt Whitman, African Americans, and Sounding the NationImagining the Nation and Democratic Visuality5. Framing the Margins: Geometries of Space and the Aesthetics of Nationalism6. The Spectacle of Disorder: Race, Decoration, and the Social Logic of Space7. The Colored MuseumConclusion. Shadow and Act ReduxWorks Cited