Tropics of Haiti

Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865

Marlene L. Daut

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ISBN: 9781781381854

Publication: July 17, 2015

Series: Liverpool Studies in International Slavery 8

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The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) was an event of monumental world-historical significance, and here, in the first systematic literary history of those events, Haiti's war of independence is examined through the eyes of its actual and imagined participants, observers, survivors, and cultural descendants. The 'transatlantic print culture' under discussion in this literary history reveals that enlightenment racial 'science' was the primary vehicle through which the Haitian Revolution was interpreted by nineteenth-century Haitians, Europeans, and U.S. Americans alike. Through its author's contention that the Haitian revolutionary wars were incessantly racialized by four constantly recurring tropes—the 'monstrous hybrid', the 'tropical temptress', the 'tragic mulatto/a', and the 'colored historian'—Tropics of Haiti shows the ways in which the nineteenth-century tendency to understand Haiti's revolution in primarily racial terms has affected present day demonizations of Haiti and Haitians. In the end, this new archive of Haitian revolutionary writing, much of which has until now remained unknown to the contemporary reading public, invites us to examine how nineteenth-century attempts to paint Haitian independence as the result of a racial revolution coincide with present-day desires to render insignificant and 'unthinkable' the second independent republic of the New World.

Marlene L. Daut is Associate Professor of African Diaspora Studies at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies and the Program in American Studies at the University of Virginia. She specializes in early and nineteenth-century American and Caribbean literary and cultural studies.

Introduction: The “Mulatto/a” Vengeance of ‘Haitian Exceptionalism’ Part One: Monstrous Hybridity and Enlightenment Literacy 1. Monstrous Hybridity in Colonial and Revolutionary Writing from Saint-Domingue 2. Baron de Vastey, Colonial Discourse, and the Global “Scientific” Sphere 3. Victor Hugo and the Rhetorical Possibilities of Monstrous Hybridity in 19th-century Revolutionary Fiction Part Two: Transgressing the Trope of the Tropical Temptress 4. Moreau de Saint-Méry’s Daughter and the Anti-Slavery Muse of La Mulâtre comme il y a beaucoup de blanches (1803) 5. 'Born to Command:’ Leonora Sansay and the Paradoxes of Female Benevolence as Resistance in Zelica; the Creole 6. 'Theresa' to the Rescue!: African American Women’s Resistance and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution Part Three: The Trope of the Tragic "Mulatto/a" and the Haitian Revolution 7. “Black” Son, “White” Father: The Tragic “mulatto/a” and the Haitian Revolution in Victor Séjour’s ‘Le Mulâtre’ 8. Between the Family and the Nation: Toussaint Louverture and the “Interracial” Family Romance of the Haitian Revolution 9. A ‘Quarrel Between Two Brothers:’ Eméric Bergeaud’s Ideal History of the Haitian Revolution Part Four: Requiem for the 'Colored Historian;' or the 'Mulatto Legend of History' 10. The Color of History: The Transatlantic Abolitionist Movement and the ‘never-to-be-forgiven course of the mulattoes’ 11. Victor Schoelcher, ‘L’Imagination Jaune,’ and the Francophone Genealogy of the ‘Mulatto Legend of History’ 12. ‘Let us be humane after the victory:’ Pierre Faubert’s New Humanism Coda: Today's Haitian Exceptionalism Bibliography Index

We must applaud researchers like Marlene Daut who offer substantive means with which to rethink and rewrite our stories of the Haitian past.
Kaiama L. Glover, North West Indian Guide Review

Conceived in what can be described as a comparative, transatlantic, and hemispheric framework, Tropics of Haiti is part of a crucial wave of literary criticism that seeks to not only refocus our attention on nineteenth-century Haitian studies but expand the U.S. American literary canon and contribute to the transnational turn in American Studies by exposing cultural links across the Atlantic and the Caribbean.
Michael Dash, Postcolonial Text

Tropics of Haiti is an incredibly well-organized and meticulously researched work, supported by the scholarship of authorities in literary criticism and history such as Chris Bongie,Doris Garraway, Wernor Sollors, and Pierre Boulle.  Scholars of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature will find Tropics of Haiti a valuable addition to their libraries.
Tomaz Cunningham   L'Esprit Créateur

The body of literature that Daut covers is vast: memoirs, pamphlets, tracts, and early histories as well as conventional literary writings. 'Tropics of Haiti' is a major intervention, offering the first exhaustive study of the transatlantic print culture of the Haitian Revolution.
Anna Brickhouse  
University of Virginia

Groundbreaking and ambitious, expressively written and expertly researched, Tropics of Haiti creates a new canon of historical Haitian literary and cultural materials, and establishes the author as a scholar of outstanding import in studies of the African diaspora in Western modernity.
Duke University

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 x 156 mm

692 Pages

ISBN: 9781781381854

Publication: July 17, 2015

Series: Liverpool Studies in International Slavery 8

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