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Slavery and Sentiment
The Politics of Feeling in Black Atlantic Antislavery Writing, 1770-1850
Christine Levecq

Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

New Hampshire
2008 • 324 pp. 6 x 9"
African-American Studies / Slavery / Literary Criticism / American Studies

$35.00 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-734-7

$19.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-813-9

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“While Levecq situates within white British and American literary culture the work of the many black authors she discusses, she is most interested in discovering the varying degrees of liberalism... [continued in Reviews below]”—The Journal of American History

Illuminates the political dimensions of American and British antislavery texts written by blacks

From the eighteenth century on, appeals to listeners’ and readers’ feelings about the sufferings of slaves were a predominant strategy of abolitionism. This book argues that expressions of feeling in those texts did not just appeal to individual readers’ inclinations to sympathy but rather were inherently political. The authors of these texts made arguments from the social and political ideologies that grounded their moral and social lives.

Levecq examines liberalism and republicanism, the main Anglo-American political ideologies of the period, in the antislavery texts of a range of African-American and Afro-British authors. Disclosing the political content hitherto unexamined in this kind of writing, she shows that while the overall story is one of increased liberalization of ideology on both sides of the Atlantic, the republican ideal persisted, particularly among black authors with transatlantic connections.

Demonstrating that such writers as Phillis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Mary Prince were men and women of their times, Levecq provides valuable new insight into the ideological world of black Atlantic writers and puts them, for the first time, on modernity’s political map.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“While Levecq situates within white British and American literary culture the work of the many black authors she discusses, she is most interested in discovering the varying degrees of liberalism and republicanism, alone or together, that shaped black-authored texts. She sees liberalism and its disembodied form of sympathetic appeal over time assuming dominance in black antislavery writings.”—The Journal of American History

“Throughout Slavery and Sentiment Levecq seeks to show how the interdependence of the political and the emotional in these antislavery texts can "be traced in allusions to individual freedom, or the common good, to interpersonal exchange or communal consciousness, to interiorities or bodies." Thus, according to Levecq, depending on time and place, the antislavery writings exhibit different degrees of liberal and republican political ideas and sympathy. Ultimately, Levecq concludes that the overall story is one marked by the increasing liberalization of ideology on both sides of the Atlantic.”Journal of African American History

“The great strength of Slavery and Sentiment is its meticulous attention to the political theory of Anglophone blacks who would otherwise merely stand for the civic virtues white liberals needed to acquire.”American Literature

“The question Levecq raises is how did abolitionists commence around 1770 with developments that would reach such momentous expressions by the middle of the nineteenth century? Why, for example, have readers felt sympathy for Uncle Tom and Linda Brent? In answering these questions, Levecq has provided readers the best study ever published of emotion in abolitionist writing.”—Early American Literature

“Pioneering and provocative, in Slavery and Sentiment Christine Levecq closely reads both black and white writers to argue that the transatlantic English-speaking world saw the development of not one but two often competing and sometimes complementary Black Atlantics during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Demonstrating the roles the tension between republican and libertarian concepts of sentiment played in the creation of these Black Atlantics, Slavery and Sentiment should be read by anyone interested in diasporan, literary, and social studies of the period.”—Vincent Carretta, Professor of English, University of Maryland, and author of Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man

“Many readers will be rewarded by Christine Levecq’s Slavery and Sentiment, a wide-ranging study, elaborating far more than another discourse in the early Black writing of the Anglo-Atlantic world. Levecq’s work defines ‘sentimentality’ as the affective aspect of first republican and then liberal ideology from the late eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries. Even dissenters from Levecq’s conclusions will learn from her syntheses of the now massive secondary literature elaborating these themes as well as from analyses, tracing them in the fiction and other prose of the early National period and Romanticism. Slavery and Sentiment, moreover, contributes illuminating close readings of the letters of Ignatius Sancho, the narrative of John Marrant, the speeches of Prince Hall, and a number of slave autobiographies. Students of post-Civil War African American literature are perhaps unexpectedly going to find this text an important guide to sentimental themes in the fiction of Harper and Hopkins. Levecq’s book deftly pursues the project of situating the canon of early Black writing in its full American context or—depending on your point of view—allowing the established canonical periods of the national literature to illuminate their key African-American texts. Black literature specialists and Americanists have long needed to define a common language. These commentators and many others will find this project underway in Slavery and Sentiment.”—Phillip Richards, Professor of English, Colgate University

CHRISTINE LEVECQ is an Assistant Professor in the Humanities at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:02:24 -0500