Black Well-Being: Health and Selfhood in Antebellum Black Literature
University Press of Florida
Canadian Association for American Studies Robert K. Martin Book Prize
Analyzing slave narratives, emigration polemics, a murder trial, and black-authored fiction, Andrea Stone highlights the central role physical and mental health and well-being played in antebellum black literary constructions of selfhood. At a time when political and medical theorists emphasized black well-being in their arguments for or against slavery, African American men and women developed their own theories about what it means to be healthy and well in contexts of injury, illness, sexual abuse, disease, and disability.
Such portrayals of the healthy black self in early black print culture created a nineteenth-century politics of well-being that spanned continents. Even in conditions of painful labor, severely limited resources, and physical and mental brutality, these writers counter stereotypes and circumstances by representing and claiming the totality of bodily existence.
Publication of the paperback edition made possible by a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.