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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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Domestic Rituals of Consumption

Domestic Rituals of Consumption

(p.127) 4 Domestic Rituals of Consumption
The Delectable Negro

Vincent Woodard

NYU Press

This chapter discusses Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), a narrative that depicts some of the more graphic scenes of human consumption ever portrayed in a U.S. slave narrative. She depicts masters, within the domestic realm, as epicures of black flesh, sex, terror, and institutionalized hunger and starvation. Focusing on Luke, a black man raped by his master, and Jacobs herself, the chapter elucidates the intersections between incestuous plantation dynamics and the culture of human consumption. Both Luke and Jacobs are infantilized and form part of a genealogy of human consumption that, for the master and mistress, extends back to childhood and learned, sycophantic relationships with mammy figures, black uncle figures, and black playmates. Jacobs structures her uplift politics around stereotypic nineteenth-century dyads of thought and experience, the most central dyad being the black maternal figure and the insurgent or suffering patriarch.

Keywords:   Harriet Jacobs, human consumption, U.S. slave narrative, institutionalized hunger, starvation, incestuous plantation dynamics, childhood, black maternal figure

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