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Bilsky, Dana

Works: 1 works in 3 publications in 1 language and 4 library holdings
Genres: Criticism, interpretation, etc 
Roles: Author
Publication Timeline
Publications about Dana Bilsky
Publications by Dana Bilsky
Most widely held works by Dana Bilsky
Tangled skeins : identification and fantasmatic genealogies of slavery in narratives by Jacobs, Crafts, Wilson, and Keckley by Dana Bilsky( Book )
3 editions published in 2005 in English and held by 4 libraries worldwide
Nineteenth-century American narratives written by former slaves and free blacks contain powerful polemics against the brutality of slavery and Jim Crow laws. More difficult to grasp, however, than the necessity of a social world without violence is the conviction found in many of these texts that freedom only emerges in spaces in which aggression is permitted. This dissertation explores how Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl (1861) by Harriet A. Jacobs, The Bondwoman's Narrative (circa 1850) by Hannah Crafts, Our Nig, or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) by Harriet E. Wilson, and Behind the Scenes or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years In the White House (1868) by Elizabeth Keckley---literary works committed to the end of violence---establish the redemptive value of conflict. Additionally, the dissertation provides a theoretical and historical framework for the idea that experiences of freedom fail to cohere in the absence of strife. At stake is not simply a declaration of what it means to be a slave or free: an understanding of the human condition---the problem of living with others---hangs in the balance. Contemporary liberal discourses of multiculturalism equate subjectivity with a socially intelligible identity. In contrast, narrators and protagonists in this study abjure recognition as a member of a group for the serial pursuit of aggressive identifications with others who are fundamentally unassimilable. Current conceptions of subjectivity and identity reflect the rigidly hierarchical social worlds from which these nineteenth-century texts emerged and from which the characters these texts chronicle try to escape. In suggesting that identity is itself a symptom---not a cure---of social ills that take root in slavery and proliferate in freedom, I seek to reanimate a nineteenth-century critique of American identity that has remained inaccessible to current scholarship on the written legacy of slavery. In an argument that finds in nineteenth-century African-American literature a set of commitments and practices we might call a politics of identification, I critique some assumptions fundamental to identity politics, the rubric under which these narratives have been apprehended
English (3)
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