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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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Sight Unseen: Contemporary Visual Slave Narratives

Sight Unseen: Contemporary Visual Slave Narratives

Chapter:
(p.29) 1 Sight Unseen: Contemporary Visual Slave Narratives
Source:
Fugitive Testimony
Author(s):

Janet Neary

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823272891.003.0002

Establishing and examining an archive of contemporary visual slave narratives—including Glenn Ligon’s Narratives and Runaways series (1993), Kara Walker’s Slavery! Slavery! (1997) and Narratives of a Negress (2003), and Ellen Driscoll’s TheLoophole of Retreat (1991)—this chapter reframes critical debates on the slave narrative around the visual stakes of the form and advances a new model of reading the slave narrative founded on attention to the historical and aesthetic dislocations and disjunctions accentuated in contemporary visual slave narratives. Concluding with an analysis of Frederick Douglass’s visual intervention in his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, specifically, his metaphorical assertion, “You have seen how a man was made a slave, you shall see how a slave was made a man,” the chapter argues that both contemporary artists and 19th-century ex-slave narrators produce representational static to evade the racial constraints on their artistic production.

Keywords:   contemporary visual slave narratives, Frederick Douglass, Ellen Driscoll, Glenn Ligon, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, representational static, textual visuality, Kara Walker

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