Race, Romance and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century

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As in many literatures of the New World grappling with issues of slavery and freedom, stories of racial insurrection frequently coincided with stories of cross-racial romance in nineteenth-century U.S. print culture. Colleen O'Brien explores how authors such as Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Livermore, and Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda imagined the expansion of race and gender-based rights as a hemispheric affair, drawing together the United States with Africa, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean. Placing less familiar women writers in conversation with their more famous contemporaries-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Lydia Maria Child-O'Brien traces the transnational progress of freedom through the antebellum cultural fascination with cross-racial relationships and insurrections. Her book mines a variety of sources-fiction, political rhetoric, popular journalism, race science, and biblical treatises-to reveal a common concern: a future in which romance and rebellion engender radical social and political transformation.