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

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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. This book 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. It eeveals 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, it examines how conceptions of the slave as a
container of suppressed pain are reflected in disciplines as diverse as
art, sculpture, music, and psychology.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages252
ISBN (Print)978-1-107-60781-1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2012

Publication series

NameCambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture

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