|Shades of Green
offers a creative reimagining of early and antebellum American literary
culture by exploring the complex web of relationships linking racial
thought to natural science and natural imagery.
The book charts a dynamic shift in both polemical and imaginative
literature during the century before the Civil War, as scientific,
artistic, and spiritual vocabularies regarding "nature" became
increasingly important for authors seeking to mobilize public opinion
against slavery or to redefine racial identity.
Finseth argues that these vocabularies both liberated and constrained
antislavery philosophy and, more broadly, that our understanding of
race in early American literature must take the natural world into
account. In doing this, Finseth fuses a cultural history of the period
with fresh readings of such major figures as Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass.
Drawing on a
range of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, including
aesthetics, anthropology, phenomenology, and ecocriticism, Shades of
Green demonstrates the agility with which human thought about the
natural and the racial leapt across formal epistemological,
professional, and artistic boundaries. In this innovative account, the
politics of race and slavery are shown to have been deeply intertwined
with putatively apolitical cultural understandings of the natural
world. The book will be of value to scholars in a variety of
disciplines, including American studies, African American literary
history, and environmental philosophy.
Shades of Green
Visions of Nature in the Literature of American Slavery, 1770-1860
by Ian Frederiseth
University of Georgia Press,
The Nature Pages