Sites unseen: Architecture, race, and American literature

Research output: Book/ReportBook

20 Scopus citations


The idea for this book emerged from a deceptively simple question: Why are there so many porches in the conjure tales of Charles Chesnutt? Although Chesnutt's conjure stories center on often-fantastic transformations within a reimagined slave South, the contemporary frame settings of his late nineteenth-century tales can seem repetitious at best, almost always placing the same characters on the same porch of the same post-Reconstruction North Carolina mansion. Was this repetition a sign of a lack of narrative imagination? Or was Chesnutt's insistent return to the plantation porch instead a canny exploration of a powerfully resonant physical site and social space? And what did it mean in particular for an African American author writing at the so-called nadir of American race relations-and the peak of the Colonial Revival-to probe the socio-spatial legacy of the architecture of slavery? Why those porches, in this way, at that moment?

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherNew York University Press
Number of pages269
ISBN (Print)0814732461, 9780814732465
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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