Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Becoming HumanMatter and Meaning in an Antiblack World$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Zakiyyah Iman Jackson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479890040

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479890040.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

Losing Manhood

Losing Manhood

Plasticity, Animality, and Opacity in the (Neo)Slave Narrative

(p.45) 1 Losing Manhood
Becoming Human

Zakiyyah Iman Jackson

NYU Press

Frederick Douglass’s 1845 Narrative has been central to interpretations that read African American literature through the framework of a petition for human recognition. Douglass, arguably the nineteenth century’s most iconic slave, grounds his critique of slavery in natural law. However, his later speeches problematize his commitment to the natural rights tradition by disrupting its racially exclusive conception of being and challenging the animal abjection that is foundational to its ontology. Toni Morrison’s Beloved recalls rhetorical strategies, such as appeals to sentimentality and the sovereign “I,” employed by Douglass that diagnose racialization and animalization as mutually constitutive modalities of domination under slavery. Chapter 1 examines how we might read Morrison as well as gendered appeals to discourses of the Self rooted in religio-scientific hierarchy, as both discourses have historically recognized black humanity and included black people in their conceptualization of “the human,” but in the dissimulating terms of an imperial racial hierarchy. Beloved extends Douglass’s intervention by subjecting animality’s abjection to further interrogation by foregrounding nonhuman animal perspective, destabilizing the epistemological authority of enslaving modernity, including its gendered and sexual logics. By doing so, Beloved destabilizes the very binaristic and teleological epistemic presumptions that authorize the black body as border concept.

Keywords:   plasticity, animality, humanism, masculinity, race, Toni Morrison, blackness, slave narrative, Frederick Douglass

NYU Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.