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Chapter 3 - Freedom’s Conduit

Spiritual Justice in “Theresa, A Haytien Tale”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2023

Mary Grace Albanese
Affiliation:
SUNY Binghamton
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Summary

Turning from communities of free people of color in Louisiana to New York City, Chapter 3, “Freedom’s Conduit: Spiritual Justice in ‘Theresa, A Haytien Tale’,” examines early African-American print culture, particularly the first African American short story, the anonymously authored “Theresa, A Haytean Tale” (1828). While Haitian Revolutionary histories in the US have often centered on Toussaint Louverture, “Theresa” follows the travails of a young woman and her all-female family in their struggle for Haitian independence. A cross-dressing spy against the French, Theresa frequently experiences visitations, possessions, and visions from God. Theresa’s political and spiritual labor forms a complex network of spiritual cosmologies and Haitian Revolutionary iconographies that help expand colonized understandings of gender and sexuality. In doing so, the tale reroutes the energy systems of both colonial plantation violence and early African-American domesticity by imagining a prophetic form of female futurity tied to Haitian independence, not biological reproduction. Ultimately, I argue, “Theresa” transforms the cult of Mary, showing how the female body serves as an instrument of divine energies in which the final product is not a child but instead political sovereignty.

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  • Freedom’s Conduit
  • Mary Grace Albanese, SUNY Binghamton
  • Book: Black Women and Energies of Resistance in Nineteenth-Century Haitian and American Literature
  • Online publication: 09 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009314268.004
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  • Freedom’s Conduit
  • Mary Grace Albanese, SUNY Binghamton
  • Book: Black Women and Energies of Resistance in Nineteenth-Century Haitian and American Literature
  • Online publication: 09 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009314268.004
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Freedom’s Conduit
  • Mary Grace Albanese, SUNY Binghamton
  • Book: Black Women and Energies of Resistance in Nineteenth-Century Haitian and American Literature
  • Online publication: 09 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009314268.004
Available formats
×