Writing about slavery presents special problems–how can a writer deal with something so all-encompassingly evil?
Slavery and its aftermath are human drama still unsettled. Administrators, timekeepers, civil servants, guardians of the state try to revise our understanding of the period and its outcomes. An effort to convince us that the drama is over rages. Some of us insist, and rightly so, that we are now in this drama’s second act, we have not moved beyond the raised curtain, we are still in shock at what we have finally seen.
Confronting Slavery Face-to-face: A twenty-first century interpreter’s perspective on eighteenth-century slavery
And yet, for all that, I am still troubled by the issue: why was a white person teaching about black history?
In virtually every story, loyal slaves reminisce about the era of slavery, and bring harmony to postwar plantations by ushering Southern belles and good Yankee soldiers to reconciliation and matrimony.
Why is there not a more detailed visual record of slavery and even slave life in early America?
In these two almost random cases, the sounds created by African Americans induced in white observers a sense of cultural dissonance, prompting feelings of confusion, disgust, and even horror.
Part of the reason why courses about slavery and African American culture are so popular in institutions outside the United States, and why so many non-American scholars specialize in black history, is that “race” provides a quick way into America’s soft moral underbelly, laying bare in the starkest of fashions American sanctimony.
Measuring Literature: Digital Humanities, Behavioral Economics, and the Problem of Data in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century
As a literary scholar, I think we need to reevaluate . . . enthusiasm about Piketty’s use of literature as data.
Taken together, the short essays gathered here point out the ways in which numbers and graphs constitute narratives, and insist that data’s stories are just as constructed as those found in words and novels.
If Piketty had turned to literary writing before Austen, he would have found a world teeming with the world-creating energies of overseas trade that economic historians take very seriously.