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Grant number: FT-229485-15

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Michael Paul Bibler
Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA 70808-4600)

Property, Intimacy, and the Literature of U.S. Slavery

Summer research and writing on American Literature, and Gender and U.S. Regional Studies.

In what would seem a statistical impossibility, the vast historical archive of the slaveholding South is almost completely silent about homoerotic and what we would call homosexual encounters. But this book project demonstrates that the much-neglected literary archive of the antebellum South contains numerous examples of characters, scenes, and storylines that readily depict queer forms of gender and eroticism. Reading pro- and antislavery works together, I show how all erotic relations in this period are deeply intertwined with the property relations of slavery, whereby property not only anchors and defines all forms of intimate attachment but also infuses those bonds with an inescapable eroticism. This NEH support will allow me to complete a key chapter in this project that explains this "possessive intimacy" in William Simms's novels and poems about effete bachelors, mannish wives, master-slave sentimentality, sexual captivity, and companionate marriage.

Project fields:
American Literature; Gender Studies; U.S. Regional Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2015 – 6/30/2015