Parlor Fantasies, Parlor Nightmares
This book explores how Black people appearing in early daguerreotypes reimagined and reconstructed Black visuality removed from the cultural logics of slavery. It explains how the daguerreotype became a means to create distance between freedom and slavery's mediation of Blackness, and as tools of “critical black memory.” It analyzes modes of picturing Black freedom before the Civil War and before the daguerreotype to trace its emergence in the transatlantic imaginary. It shows how picturing freedom before the advent of photographic technologies reorganized Black visuality, repositioning Black people within the conceptual space of the Atlantic world. It also discusses efforts to imagine both Black men and Black women as free in the context of slavery, with particular emphasis on “the black female body and the gaze.” Finally, it locates diverse conceptions of Black freedom in the transatlantic parlor as a place for dissimilar groups of people and cultural producers to convene around visions of Blackness separated from slavery.
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