Just Out! Andrea Stone’s Black Well-Being: Health and Selfhood in Antebellum Black Literature

Available in early May is the new book by Celia Project Participant Andrea Stone (Smith College.) Black Well-Being: Health and Selfhood in Antebellum Black Literature (University of Florida Press.) May 2016.

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.