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Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution

Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution (Paperback)

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Synopsis

The Haitian Revolution has generated responses from commentators in fields ranging from philosophy to historiography to twentieth-century literary and artistic studies. But what about the written work produced at the time, by Haitians? This book is the first to present an account of a specifically Haitian literary tradition in the Revolutionary era. Beyond the Slave Narrative shows the emergence of two strands of textual innovation, both evolving from the new revolutionary consciousness: the remarkable political texts produced by Haitian revolutionary leaders Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and popular Creole poetry from anonymous courtesans in Saint-Domingue's libertine culture. These textual forms, though they differ from each other, both demonstrate the increasing cultural autonomy and literary voice of non-white populations in the colony at the time of revolution. Unschooled generals and courtesans, long presented as voiceless, are at last revealed to be legitimate speakers and authors.



These Haitian French and Creole texts have been neglected as a foundation of Afro-diasporic literature by former slaves in the Atlantic world for two reasons: because they do not fit the generic criteria of the slave narrative (which is rooted in the autobiographical experience of enslavement); and because they are mediated texts, relayed to the print-cultural Atlantic domain not by the speakers themselves, but by secretaries or refugee colonists. These texts challenge how we think about authorial voice, writing, print culture, and cultural autonomy in the context of the formerly enslaved, and demand that we reassess our historical understanding of the Haitian Independence and its relationship to an international world of contemporary readers.

Author will co-director (with Laurent Dubois) of the "Haiti Lab" at the Franklin Humanities Institute Duke University for the next three years. The Haiti Lab merges academic research, education, and innovations for the Haitian earthquake recovery in one organic effort. Author has developed a Creole studies program at Duke, which has received extensive media attention in the spring of 2010 for its relationship to Haitian recovery efforts. Forthcoming and Previous publications by the author: Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Trauma, and Sovereignty, co-edited with Warwick Anderson and Richard E. Keller, forthcoming, Duke University Press Trauma and Its Representations: The Social Life of Mimesis in Post-Revolutionary France (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001) 294 pp. Sarah, An English Translation, with Doris Kadish, (New York: MLA Editions, 2008) xli and 96 pp. Sarah, The Original French Text, with Doris Kadish (New York: MLA Editions, 2008) xxxvi and 93 pp. "The Haiti Issue (1804 and Nineteenth Century French Studies)," Yale French Studies 107, Spring 2005 "Coming to Writing" and Other Essays by Helene Cixous; editor; translation with Sarah Cornell, Ann Liddle, and Susan Sellers (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1991) 214 pp.

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