Abstract

Abstract:

This article brings together recent work in literary studies and architectural history to plot the coded, and strategic, disavowal of slavery in early America by re-imagining deliberately submerged narratives of race in landscape and architecture. Using fictional and actual buildings, particularly Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and the structures on the Mettingen estate in Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland (1798), the article traces the ways that the architectural vernaculars and embedded metaphors of the early United States project a familiar set of idealized values across a range of registers and scales. The binary constituted from figurations of enslavement (huts and the workplaces of slaves) and neoclassical architecture (including temples) were entirely familiar to early Americans. The novel reveals the consequences of a failure properly to acknowledge, or address, the silence surrounding the hut. It reveals a growing anxiety about the construction and shaping of national identity, in which the disavowed significance of racial others threatens the stability, and safety, of white Americans. The troubling elements of the novel are characteristic of larger narrative depictions of dark secrets and gendered and racialized violence in other fiction of the early Republic.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-147X
Print ISSN
0012-8163
Pages
pp. 369-404
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-14
Open Access
N
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