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Fugitive TestimonyOn the Visual Logic of Slave Narratives$
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Janet Neary

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823272891

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823272891.001.0001

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Introduction: Representational Static

Introduction: Representational Static

(p.1) Introduction: Representational Static
Fugitive Testimony

Janet Neary

Fordham University Press

Using contemporary artwork as a lens onto the textual visuality of 19th-century slave narratives, this introduction to Fugitive Testimony works backwards historically to excavate ex-slave narrators’ challenge to authenticating conventions, and therefore their challenge to the assumptions motivating racial classification itself. The introduction argues that the book’s unique focus on the recursive nature of the slave narrative form unifies what have been three distinct phases of the genre’s criticism within the academy—historical, literary, and cultural studies approaches—and contributes to the historiographical contours of Atlantic studies. Drawing on literary analysis, art history, and visual and performance theory, the book connects vital early literary critical accounts of the slave narrative that examine the genre’s conventions of authentication and issues of literacy with later cultural studies approaches, including those advanced by Lindon Barrett, Saidiya Hartman, Fred Moten, Daphne Brooks, and Michael Chaney.

Keywords:   authenticating conventions, narrative performance, racial classification, representational static, slave narrative, textual visuality

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