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The Logic of Slavery
Debt, Technology, and Pain in American Literature


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Part of Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: October 2012
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107607811

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • 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
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    • 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 Inquiry

    '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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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107607811
    • length: 262 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • 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

  • Author

    Tim Armstrong, Royal Holloway, University of London
    Tim Armstrong is Professor of Modern English and American Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. He previously taught at University College London, University College Cork and the University of Sheffield. He is author of Modernism, Technology and the Body: A Cultural Study (1998), Haunted Hardy: Poetry, History, Memory (2000) and Modernism: A Cultural History (2005). He is editor of American Bodies (1996) and Thomas Hardy: Selected Poems (1993, 2009), and co-editor of Beyond the Pleasure Dome: Writing and Addiction from the Romantics (1994).


    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2013
    • Winner of the 2013 Hugh Holman Award, Society for the Study of Southern Literature

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