16. March 2023

Out now: Loneliness and Contested Communities in Mary Prince's Slave Narrative, The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831) In The Routledge History of Loneliness

by Dr. Jennifer Leetsch

Published in The Routledge History of Loneliness

Edited By Katie Barclay, Elaine Chalus, Deborah Simonton.

In this chapter Dr. Jennifer Leetsch interweaves the subject of loneliness with an example of early-19th-century Black life-writing, the slave narrative The History of Mary Prince (1831), the first Black life narrative by a woman published in Britain, at a time of immense social rupture and change effected by anti-slavery and abolitionist politics. Locating the intersections of displacement and community in slavery life-writing across the Black Atlantic, this literary analysis contrasts the many contested communities at work in Prince’s text with the loneliness of her experiences in, through and after slavery. The chapter argues that loneliness, fragmentation and separation are fundamentally part of the slave narrative, just as much as the existence and continual rearticulation of Black community and solidarity. By focusing on loneliness as a condition constitutive of the genre, the chapter excavates the dynamics between the intimate feelings of loneliness, social isolation and systemic alienation as experienced by enslaved people, as well as inconspicuous yet wilful forms of community-building and acts of care that are activated in relation to and articulated through experiences of oppression, dehumanisation and objectification.

Download the full Chapter here

Jennifer Leetsch
Jennifer Leetsch © BCDSS
Download all images in original size The impression in connection with the service is free, while the image specified author is mentioned.

The Routledge History of Loneliness takes a multidisciplinary approach to the history of a modern emotion, exploring its form and development across cultures from the seventeenth century to the present.

Bringing together thirty scholars from various disciplines, including history, anthropology, philosophy, literature and art history, the volume considers how loneliness was represented in art and literature, conceptualised by philosophers and writers and described by people in their personal narratives. It considers loneliness as a feeling so often defined in contrast to sociability and affective connections, particularly attending to loneliness in relation to the family, household and community. Acknowledging that loneliness is a relatively novel term in English, the book explores its precedents in ideas about solitude, melancholy and nostalgia, as well as how it might be considered in cross-cultural perspectives.

With wide appeal to students and researchers in a variety of subjects, including the history of emotions, social sciences and literature, this volume brings a critical historical perspective to an emotion with contemporary significance.

Download the full Book here

Wird geladen