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Encrypted Citations: The Bondwoman’s Narrative and the Case of Jane Johnson
MELUS Pub Date : 2021-03-13 , DOI: 10.1093/melus/mlab002
Barter F.

Abstract
I read Hannah Crafts’s The Bondwoman’s Narrative (2002) and its legal historical intertexts in order to nuance “fiction” as a literary category of antebellum African American writing. Specifically, I develop connections between The Bondwoman’s Narrative and US laws of slavery by thinking about the novel’s form in relation to legal citational practices. I argue that the novel encrypts and encodes legal narratives within its fictionalized accounts of verifiable “historical” events. By close reading Crafts’s alterations of such events, I compare her use of encryption to the citational practices inherent in legal precedent. This comparison yields a stronger understanding of antebellum African American authorial practices as deploying legal rhetorical strategies that resisted dominant legal narratives and generated new literary forms. I problematize the tendency to redeem law as a possible or ideal site of black belonging and to underscore the ways that authors such as Crafts encrypted their writing with rejections of law and the nation-state. Her work does so even as it rehearses a facility and engagement with legal culture that might suggest an effort to inscribe African Americans into legal frameworks and the ongoing nineteenth-century project of US nation-building. Instead of reading this complex engagement with US law as evincing an attachment to it, I argue for reading it as the rejection and radical reimagining of existing logics of authority and community.


中文翻译:

加密的引文:《邦德女郎》的叙事和简·约翰逊案

摘要
我读了汉娜·克拉夫斯(Hannah Crafts)的《邦德女郎的叙事》The Bondwoman's Narrative(2002))及其法律历史背景,以使“小说”成为非战前非裔美国人写作的文学类别。具体来说,我在The Bondwoman的叙事之间建立了联系通过考虑小说在法律引用实践中的形式来制定美国奴隶制法律。我认为这部小说在其对可验证的“历史”事件的虚构描述中对法律叙述进行了加密和编码。通过仔细阅读Crafts对此类事件的更改,我将她对加密的使用与法律先例中固有的引用惯例进行了比较。通过这种比较,人们可以更好地理解战前非裔美国人的写作习惯,因为他们采用的是反抗主流法律叙述并产生新文学形式的法律修辞策略。我质疑将法律赎回为可能的或理想的黑人归属地的趋势,并强调了诸如手工艺品之类的作者通过拒绝法律和民族国家来加密其作品的方式。她的工作是这样做的,即使它是演练一种设施和参与法律文化,也可能暗示着将非裔美国人纳入法律框架以及正在进行的19世纪美国国家建设项目的努力。我认为与其将对美国法律的这种复杂交往理解为对它的依附,不如将其理解为对权威和社区的现有逻辑的拒绝和彻底的重新构想。
更新日期:2021-04-08
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