The Logic of Slavery
Debt, Technology, and Pain in American Literature
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- Author: Tim Armstrong, Royal Holloway, University of London
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In American history and throughout the Western world, the subjugation perpetuated by slavery has created a unique “culture of slavery.” That culture exists as a metaphorical, artistic, and literary tradition attached to the enslaved – human beings whose lives are “owed” to another, who are used as instruments by another, and who must endure suffering in silence. Tim Armstrong explores the metaphorical legacy of slavery in American culture by investigating debt, technology, and pain in African-American literature and a range of other writings and artworks. Armstrong's careful analysis reveals how notions of the slave as a debtor lie hidden in our accounts of the commodified self and how writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rebecca Harding Davis, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison grapple with the pervasive view that slaves are akin to machines. Finally, Armstrong examines how conceptions of the slave as a container of suppressed pain are reflected in disciplines as diverse as art, sculpture, music, and psychology.Read more
- Investigates slavery's impact on other areas of Western culture (for example, technology, sculpture and life insurance)
- Explores the metaphorical underpinnings of slavery in greater detail than any other book
- Considers the aftermath of slavery in American culture from a brand new perspective
- A Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2013
Reviews & endorsements
"The Logic of Slavery is a bracing read and a showcase for Armstrong’s remarkable intellectual flexibility and range."
The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary InquirySee more reviews
"Compelling, persuasive, and theoretically sophisticated, this book is concerned primarily with the figural, metaphorical dimensions of slavery in the Western world … A strikingly original work - deeply engaging, carefully researched and documented - this volume will interest informed readers, students, and scholars of slavery and race, the history of slavery, African American studies, and American studies."
J. A. Miller, Choice
"… deserves a close read by specialists interested in the investment American culture has in slavery and its historical narratives … Its engagement with African American literature, theory, and historical narrative will engage scholars across disciplines."
The Journal of American Culture
'The book is an extraordinarily erudite, intellectually sophisticated, and beautifully written contribution to the wider project - which must necessarily be multifaceted - of disinterring slavery’s continuing impact on contemporary American culture.' Anita Rupprecht, Cultural Critique
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- Date Published: July 2012
- format: Adobe eBook Reader
- isbn: 9781139512671
- contains: 7 b/w illus.
- availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
Table of Contents
1. Slavery, insurance, and sacrifice: the embodiment of capital
2. Debt, self-redemption, and foreclosure
3. Machines inside the machine: slavery and technology
4. The hands of others: sculpture and pain
5. The sonic veil
6. Slavery in the mind: trauma and the weather
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