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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities


Sites of Subjection


Sites of Subjection: Black Women and the Crusade Against the One-Room Log Cabin


Kaisha Esty • Wesleyan University

November 8 @ 6 P.M. via Zoom: https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/98168770558

The log cabin is a staple in white American cultural mythology. It evokes the grit and rugged individualism of white men – canonized by figures such as Abraham Lincoln – and the settler-colonialist fantasy of the frontier. Yet, for nineteenth-century Black women, the symbol of the one-room log cabin was dangerously unsettling. A site of subjection and sexual terror in slavery, the one-room cabin also became the locus of white and Black middle-class sexual angst after emancipation. In the afterlife of slavery, the one-room cabin became a marker of poor freedwomen’s “innate” sexual and moral degeneracy. How did poor freedwomen navigate the continued sexual terror of white supremacy and the new, overlapping violence of Northern bourgeoisification? What traditions of resistance did they cultivate in their self-fashioning as sexually self-possessed women? This lecture recovers the fraught legacy of the log cabin in poor, rural freedwomen’s sexual lives.

Consent & Subjection
View Fall 2021 Lecture List

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