The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited: Race and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Antislavery Fiction
By Dr. Eve Allegra Raimon
Rutgers University Press, 2004
208 pp., $21.95 paper ISBN 0-8135-3482-8; cloth ISBN 0-8135-3481-X
In The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited, Dr. Eve Allegra Raimon focuses on the mixed-race female slave in literature, arguing that this figure became a symbolic vehicle for explorations of race and nation — both of which were in crisis in the mid-19th century. At this time, judicial, statutory, social and scientific debates about the meaning of racial difference (and intermixture) coincided with disputes over frontier expansion, which were never merely about land acquisition but also literally about the “complexion” of that frontier. Embodying both Northern and Southern ideologies, the “amalgamated” mulatta, the author argues, can be viewed as quintessentially American, a precursor to contemporary motifs of “hybrid” and “mestizo” identities.
Dr. Eve Allegra Raimon is an associate professor of arts and humanities at the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College.
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