Abstract

Abstract:

This article examines the life and writing of Eliza Fenwick, an English radical feminist who became a Caribbean slaveowner. Fenwick's friendships with other English radicals, her feminist novel Secresy; or The Ruin on the Rock (1795), and her letters to the feminist Mary Hays indicate that she once supported principles of universal liberty and equality. After moving to Barbados in 1814, however, Fenwick subscribed to proslavery views and became a manager and owner of slaves. This article argues that the tension between Fenwick's radicalism, her participation in the slave system, and her fears of slave rebellion reflect the contradiction between Enlightenment universalism and the existence of slavery in the Americas. At the same time, Fenwick's writing demonstrates how white women's resistance to gender and class inequalities could work to reinforce racial oppression and exploitation.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 47-68
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-24
Open Access
No
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