The Repeating Body

Slavery's Visual Resonance in the Contemporary

The Repeating Body

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: 9 color illustrations Published: September 2015

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

Haunted by representations of black women that resist the reality of the body's vulnerability, Kimberly Juanita Brown traces slavery's afterlife in black women's literary and visual cultural productions. Brown draws on black feminist theory, visual culture studies, literary criticism, and critical race theory to explore contemporary visual and literary representations of black women's bodies that embrace and foreground the body's vulnerability and slavery's inherent violence. She shows how writers such as Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, and Jamaica Kincaid, along with visual artists Carrie Mae Weems and María Magdalena Campos-Pons, highlight the scarred and broken bodies of black women by repeating, passing down, and making visible the residues of slavery's existence and cruelty. Their work not only provides a corrective to those who refuse to acknowledge that vulnerability, but empowers black women to create their own subjectivities. In The Repeating Body, Brown returns black women to the center of discourses of slavery, thereby providing the means with which to more fully understand slavery's history and its penetrating reach into modern American life. 


"The Repeating Body offers a nuanced analysis grounded in detailed readings of embodiment in black diasporic and especially black feminist artistic works. . . . In this thoughtful study, Brown is probing the limits of the very stories that she understands as technologies of survival." — S. Trimble, Contemporary Women's Writing

"...[The Repeating Body] follow[s] through on its promise 'to make legible the multiple enactments of hypervisibility black women cannot escape, and to highlight artistic attempts at using opacity, framing, fragmentation, and repetitions of the visual to illustrate a desire for black subjectivity that includes black women within it.' The book succeeds at showing how and in some ways why 'to give birth to modernity is no small order." — Jennifer DeVere Brody, Signs

"Brown’s book makes an important contribution to discourses on the imaging and reading of black women’s bodies. . . . Brown’s concentrated attention to images of black women’s bodies provides a valuable resource to scholars." — Philathia R. Bolton, College Literature

"Kimberly Juanita Brown’s The Repeating Body is a spectacular treatment of how black women’s bodies—exploited and broken under trans-Atlantic slavery—fundamentally implicated visual and literary cultures. In her copious treatment of slavery as a historical formation and a present-day preoccupation, Brown identifies the slave woman’s body as a flashpoint for considerations of racialized sexuality and gender, considerations that refuse to “stay put” within any single historical period or any one geographical region. The Repeating Body produces a dazzling transnational archive of texts and images that speak to black women's bodies as records of slavery, records that illuminate it as a global regime of racialized gender and sexuality. This is a must-read for anyone interested in how the visual, the literary, the corporeal, and the enslaved come together." — Roderick A. Ferguson, coeditor of Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization

"In this moving study of slavery and its afterlife, Kimberly Juanita Brown examines literature, photography, and contemporary art to retrieve black women from the margins of slavery's representation. The Repeating Body is an invaluable contribution to the study of feminism, diaspora, and visual culture."
— Saidiya Hartman, author of Lose Your Mother: A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route


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Price: $26.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Kimberly Juanita Brown is Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies at Mount Holyoke College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction: Visualizing the Body of the Black Atlantic  1

1. Black Rapture: Corporeal Afterimage and Transnational Desire  18

2. Fragmented Figurations of the Maternal  57

3. The Boundaries of Excess  96

4. The Return: Conjuring the Figure, Following the Form  138

Conclusion: Photographic Incantations of the Visual  177

Notes  195

Bibliography  229

Index  245
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5929-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5909-8
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