Thursday, November 30, 2023

"Imaginary Empires"

New from Louisiana State University Press: Imaginary Empires: Women Writers and Alternative Futures in Early US Literature by Maria O'Malley.

About the book, from the publisher:

In Imaginary Empires, Maria O’Malley examines early American texts published between 1767 and 1867 whose narratives represent women’s engagement in the formation of empire. Her analysis unearths a variety of responses to contact, exchange, and cohabitation in the early United States, stressing the possibilities inherent in the literary to foster participation, resignification, and rapprochement.

New readings of The Female American, Leonora Sansay’s Secret History, Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie, Lydia Maria Child’s A Romance of the Republic, and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl confound the metaphors of ghosts, haunting, and amnesia that proliferate in many recent studies of early US literary history. Instead, as O’Malley shows, these writings foreground acts of foundational violence involved in the militarization of domestic spaces, the legal impediments to the transfer of property and wealth, and the geopolitical standing of the United States. Racialized and gendered figures in the texts refuse to die, leave, or stay silent. In imagining different kinds of futures, these writers reckon with the ambivalent role of women in empire-building as they negotiate between their own subordinate position in society and their exertion of sovereignty over others.

By tracing a thread of virtual history found in works by women, Imaginary Empires explores how reflections of the past offer a means of shaping future sociopolitical formations.
--Marshal Zeringue