Writing about slavery presents special problems–how can a writer deal with something so all-encompassingly evil?

The Truth of the Picnic: Writing about American slavery

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.

The Birth of a Genre: Slavery on film

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.


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.


Capital in the Eighteenth Century

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.

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