Rape and Race in the Nineteenth-Century South

ISBN-10: 080785560X
ISBN-13: 9780807855607
Edition: 2004
List price: $35.00 Buy it from $10.81
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Description: Challenging notions of race and sexuality presumed to have originated and flourished in the slave South, Diane Miller Sommerville traces the evolution of white southerners' fears of black rape by examining actual cases of black-on-white rape  More...

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Book details

List price: $35.00
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/29/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 432
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.342
Language: English

Challenging notions of race and sexuality presumed to have originated and flourished in the slave South, Diane Miller Sommerville traces the evolution of white southerners' fears of black rape by examining actual cases of black-on-white rape throughout the nineteenth century. Sommerville demonstrates that despite draconian statutes, accused black rapists frequently avoided execution or castration, largely due to intervention by members of the white community. This leniency belies claims that antebellum white southerners were overcome with anxiety about black rape. In fact, Sommerville argues, there was great fluidity across racial and sexual lines as well as a greater tolerance among whites for intimacy between black males and white females. According to Sommerville, pervasive misogyny fused with class prejudices to shape white responses to accusations of black rape even during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, a testament to the staying power of ideas about poor women's innate depravity. Based predominantly on court records and supporting legal documentation, Sommerville's examination forces a reassessment of long-held assumptions about the South and race relations as she remaps the social and racial terrain on which southerners--black and white, rich and poor--related to one another over the long nineteenth century.

Not so heinous as at first might be supposed : slave rape, gender, and class in old South communities
A manifest distinction between a woman and a female child : rape law, children, and the antebellum South
He shall suffer death : black-on-white rape law in the early South
The very helplessness of the accused appeals to our sympathy : rape, race, and southern appellate law
Against all odds? : free blacks on trial for rape in the antebellum South
Rarely known to violate a white woman : slave rape in Civil War-era Virginia
Our judiciary system is a farce : remapping the legal landscape of rape in the post-emancipation South
Foul daughter of reconstruction? : black rape in the reconstruction South
The old thread-bare lie : the rape myth and alternatives to lynching
Rape, race, and rhetoric : the rape myth in historiographical perspective

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