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The Delectable NegroHuman Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture$
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Vincent Woodard, Justin A. Joyce, and Dwight McBride

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814794616

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814794616.001.0001

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A Tale of Hunger Retold

A Tale of Hunger Retold

Ravishment and Hunger in F. Douglass’s Life and Writing

(p.95) 3 A Tale of Hunger Retold
The Delectable Negro

Vincent Woodard

NYU Press

This chapter looks at Frederick Douglass's depiction of human consumption as a phenomenon that ate away at the psyche and soul. His observations provide a blueprint for how the slave struggled in mind, emotions, and spirit not only against social consumption but also against endemic mechanisms of starvation and hunger designed to break the enslaved person. Douglass's own hunger for self, familial and ancestral bonds, and civil status manifested as complex erotic ties to white men and cross-gender behavior. The chapter examines three different ways that Douglass wrestled with consumption at the hands of others and the self. First, by discussing how mental and emotional consumption coincided with coded instances of rape at the hands of an overseer; second by analyzing a condition of “mother hunger” that characterized much of Douglass's life; and third by applying the notion of male effeminacy developed in the previous two chapters to Douglass himself.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, human consumption, psyche, soul, slave, starvation, hunger, rape, mother hunger, male effeminacy

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