By Martha Schoolman
Traditional narratives of the interval major as much as the Civil battle are consistently framed in geographical phrases. The sectional descriptors of the North, South, and West, just like the wartime different types of Union, Confederacy, and border states, suggest little regardless of a map of the USA. In Abolitionist Geographies, Martha Schoolman contends that antislavery writers always refused these average terms.
Through the idiom Schoolman names “abolitionist geography,” those writers as an alternative expressed their dissenting perspectives concerning the westward extension of slavery, the intensification of the inner slave exchange, and the passage of the Fugitive Slave legislations by way of beautiful to different anachronistic, partial, or completely fictional north–south and east–west axes. Abolitionism’s West, for example, infrequently reached past the Mississippi River, yet its East seemed to Britain for ideological idea, its North habitually traversed the Canadian border, and its South usually spanned the geopolitical divide among the U.S. and the British Caribbean.
Schoolman lines this geography of dissent in the course of the paintings of Martin Delany, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Wells Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, between others. Her ebook explores new relationships among New England transcendentalism and the British West Indies; African-American cosmopolitanism, Britain, and Haiti; sentimental fiction, Ohio, and Liberia; John Brown’s Appalachia and circum-Caribbean marronage. those connections let us see truly for the 1st time abolitionist literature’s particular and intentional funding in geography as an idiom of political critique, through turns liberal and radical, useful and utopian.
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Extra resources for Abolitionist Geographies
Emerson furthermore advises the intellectual to compensate for the likely resulting want by adjusting 38 EMERSON’S HEMISPHERE themselves to “privation” rather than “a taste for luxury” (143) as a means to live more fully in tune with what he posits as the immaterial character of intellectual activity. Emerson’s recommendation that the intellectual perform an acknowledgment of the dignity of labor by reducing his or her consumption of the fruits of the labor of others is offered with explicit, and at times simultaneous, connections to both the antislavery movement and to the thinking about health and hygiene that emerged alongside the tuberculosis epidemic.
If we choose to read it as the latter, we can discover an early articulation of the characteristically twofold abolitionist staging of the political implications of the hemispheric frame, according to which the gesture of inclusive comparison is consciously and programmatically offered as a substitute for what came increasingly to be regarded as the political, ethical, and humanitarian losses associated with the unbounded circulation of bodies, commodities, and labor. Toward Radical Refusal Although the common understanding of the term reform may reasonably lead us to think otherwise, Emerson’s defi nition as it is used in “Man the Reformer” is notably radical in its conception.
Disengaging oneself from the fi rst, geographically as well as politically, came to be understood metaphorically and at times actually as a means to shield oneself from the second. As medical term and economic activity “consumption” threatens a conceptual merging between consumer and consumed. 21 By thus positing the body rather than the commodity as the site of material dependency, the sick New Englander’s relationship to West Indian geography intriguingly reverses the spatialization of illness made familiar through postcolonial studies of British literary culture such as Bewell’s.
Abolitionist Geographies by Martha Schoolman