Transatlantic Spectacles of Race: The Tragic Mulatta and the Tragic Muse

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2011-07-02 04:45Z by Steven

Transatlantic Spectacles of Race: The Tragic Mulatta and the Tragic Muse

Rutgers University Press
256 pages
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8135-4988-0
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8135-4987-3

Kimberly S. Manganellia, Associate Professor of 19th-Century British and American Literature
Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina

The tragic mulatta was a stock figure in nineteenth-century American literature, an attractive mixed-race woman who became a casualty of the color line. The tragic muse was an equally familiar figure in Victorian British culture, an exotic and alluring Jewish actress whose profession placed her alongside the “fallen woman.”

In Transatlantic Spectacles of Race, Kimberly Manganelli argues that the tragic mulatta and tragic muse, who have heretofore been read separately, must be understood as two sides of the same phenomenon. In both cases, the eroticized and racialized female body is put on public display, as a highly enticing commodity in the nineteenth-century marketplace. Tracing these figures through American, British, and French literature and culture, Manganelli constructs a host of surprising literary genealogies, from Zelica to Daniel Deronda, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Lady Audley’s Secret. Bringing together an impressive array of cultural texts that includes novels, melodramas, travel narratives, diaries, and illustrations, Transatlantic Spectacles of Race reveals the value of transcending literary, national, and racial boundaries.

Tags: , , ,

The Tragic Mulatta Plays the Tragic Muse

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2009-08-15 03:53Z by Steven

The Tragic Mulatta Plays the Tragic Muse

Victorian Literature and Culture
Volume 37, Issue 2 (June 2009)
pages 501-522
DOI: 10.1017/S1060150309090317

Kimberly Snyder Manganellia, Assistant Professor of 19th-Century British and American Literature
Clemson University

Marie Lavington, the runaway octoroon slave in Charles Kingsley‘s little-read novel Two Years Ago (1857), makes this declaration of independence in a letter to Tom Thurnall, the novel’s hero. Though Tom helped her escape to a Canadian Quaker community, Marie has tired of the “staid and sober” (122; vol. 1, ch. 5) lifestyle of a Quakeress.  She reenters the public marketplace by refashioning herself into the Italian diva, La Cordifiamma.  Marie’s ascent to the stage as La Cordifiamma marks the construction of a new female body in the mid-nineteenth century: the Tragic Mulatta who becomes a Tragic Muse.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,