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Chapter 8 - “Theresa” and the Early Transatlantic Mixed-Race Heroine

Black Solidarity in Freedom’s Journal

from Part III - Print Culture in Circulation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2021

Jasmine Nichole Cobb
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

This chapter examines the publication of “Theresa” in Freedom’s Journal, a short story about women’s wartime heroism into the broader history of the Haitian Revolution. “Theresa” paints an image of mixed-race womanhood that was not insignificant for both this American venue and for a larger transatlantic context. Like the anonymously written British epistolary novel, The Woman of Colour, A Tale (1808), “Theresa” shows mixed-race women who are aligned with Black racial uplift rather than white assimilation. Moreover, both of these texts present images of mixed-race heroines who differ significantly from those of the “tragic mulatta” genre that would gain popularity during the antebellum period. Instead, “Theresa” frames its mixed-race heroines as models not only of racial solidarity but also of radical abolitionist action. In this, “Theresa” anticipates postbellum mixed-race heroines, through foregoing mixed-race women’s heterosexual union with Black men with their political action alongside them. The chapter offers an analysis of early nineteenth-century texts such as Laura Sansay’s Secret History; or, the Horrors of St. Domingo (1808) and Zelica the Creole (1820), which make the safety of white women the priority of their mixed-race characters.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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