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This book views the plantation household as a site of production where competing visions of gender were wielded as weapons in class struggles between black and white women. Mistresses were powerful beings in the hierarchy of slavery, and Glymph challenges previous depictions of mistresses as 'friends' and 'allies' of slaves.
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“The intellectually sophisticated and analytically acute Thavolia Glymph compels serious reconsideration of the transition in the relations of southern black and white women. Sensitive to the painful circumstances of both, she illuminates the political dimension of their daily interaction.” -Eugene D. Genovese, author of Roll, Jordan, Roll and Mind of the Mater Class, with Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Cambridge University Press, 2005
“Combining the tools of an economic and social historian with a flair for robust cross-examination of historical sources, Thavolia Glymph has fashioned a study of women in the plantation household into a sweeping reinterpretation of the post-slavery South.” -Barbara J. Fields, Columbia University
"Professor Glymph makes a powerful argument about relationships between black and white women in the slaveholding South. She explores the systematic, often brutal, use of violence by women of the planter elite against enslaved women and demolishes the idea that some form of gender solidarity trumped race and class in plantation households. This important book should find an appreciative audience among readers interested in African American, southern, women's, and Civil War-era history." -Gary W. Gallagher, John L. Nau III Professor of History, University of Virginia
"...this book is a significant contribution to the history of women, African Americans, and the larger social and economic transformation of the mid-19th century. Highly recommended." -Choice
"...Glymph has provided a new canvas for classic questions of enslavement, emancipation, and domestic spaces." -Jessica Millward, Journal of American History
"...a provocative and very well-written analysis of gender in the South before and after the Civil War. Glymph's prose is incisively written and framed within a rich historiographical context." -Jim Downs, Civil War Book Review
"Out of the House of Bondage presents a theoretically sophisticated, tightly argued challenge to the existing scholarship on black and white women in the nineteenth century South." -Frank Towers, Labour/Le Travail
The plantation household was, first and foremost, a site of production. This fundamental fact has generally been overshadowed by popular and scholarly images of the plantation household as the source of slavery's redeeming qualities, where 'gentle' mistresses ministered to 'loyal' slaves. This book recounts a very different story. The very notion of a private sphere, as divorced from the immoral excesses of chattel slavery as from the amoral logic of market laws, functioned to conceal from public scrutiny the day-to-day struggles between enslaved women and their mistresses, subsumed within a logic of patriarchy. One of emancipation's unsung consequences was precisely the exposure to public view of the unbridgeable social distance between the women on whose labor the plantation household relied and the women who employed them. This is a story of race and gender, nation and citizenship, freedom and bondage in the nineteenth century South; a big abstract story that is composed of equally big personal stories.
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