Why Antislavery Poetry Matters Now
Title Details

308 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

8 b/w illus.

Series: Studies in American Literature and Culture

Imprint: Camden House

Why Antislavery Poetry Matters Now

by Brian Yothers

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This book is a history of the nineteenth-century poetry of slavery and freedom framed as an argument about the nature of poetry itself: why we write it, why we read it, how it interacts with history.

The poetry of the transatlantic abolitionist movement represented a powerful alliance across racial and religious boundaries; today it challenges the demarcation in literary studies between cultural and aesthetic approaches. Now is a particularly apt moment for its study. This book is a history of the nineteenth-century poetry of slavery and freedom framed as an argument about the nature of poetry itself: why we write it, why we read it, how it interacts with history. Poetry that speaks to a broad cross-section of society with moral authority, intellectual ambition, and artistic complexity mattered in the fraught years of the mid nineteenth century; Brian Yothers argues that it can and must matter today.
Yothers examines antislavery poetry in light of recent work by historians, scholars in literary, cultural, and rhetorical studies, African-Americanists, scholars of race and gender studies, and theorists of poetics. That interdisciplinary sweep is mirrored by the range of writers he considers: from the canonical - Whitman, Barrett Browning, Beecher Stowe, DuBois, Melville - to those whose influence has faded - Longfellow, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, John Pierpont, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell - to African American writers whose work has been recovered in recent decades - James M. Whitfield, William Wells Brown, George Moses Horton, Frances E. W. Harper.
Acknowledgments
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Present Valor
1: Anglo-American Poetry, the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and the Haitian Revolution in United States Poetry
2: Antislavery Poetry in Public: George Moses Horton, John Pierpont, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
3: Witness against Slavery: John Greenleaf Whittier, William Wells Brown, and Lydia Huntley Sigourney
4: Present Valor and the Trauma of Slavery: James Russell Lowell and Elizabeth Barrett Browning
5: Frances E. W. Harper and Harriet Beecher Stowe: Preaching, Poetry, and Pedagogy
6: Aspects of America: James M. Whitfield, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman
Epilogue: W. E. B. DuBois and the Legacy of Antislavery Poetry
Index

BRIAN YOTHERS is Professor and Chair of English at St. Louis University.

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9781640140691

June 2023

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Title Details

308 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

8 b/w illus.

Series: Studies in American Literature and Culture

Imprint: Camden House