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The Fugitive's Properties : Law and the Poetics of Possession - Stephen M. Best

The Fugitive's Properties

Law and the Poetics of Possession

Paperback Published: 1st May 2004
ISBN: 9780226044347
Number Of Pages: 376

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In this study of literature and law before and since the Civil War, Stephen M. Best shows how American conceptions of slavery, property, and the idea of the fugitive were profoundly interconnected. The Fugitive's Properties uncovers a poetics of intangible, personified property emerging out of antebellum laws, circulating through key nineteenth-century works of literature, and informing cultural forms such as blackface minstrelsy and early race films.

Best also argues that legal principles dealing with fugitives and indebted persons provided a sophisticated precursor to intellectual property law as it dealt with rights in appearance, expression, and other abstract aspects of personhood. In this conception of property as fleeting, indeed fugitive, American law preserved for much of the rest of the century slavery's most pressing legal imperative: the production of personhood as a market commodity. By revealing the paradoxes of this relationship between fugitive slave law and intellectual property law, Best helps us to understand how race achieved much of its force in the American cultural imagination. A work of ambitious scope and compelling cross-connections, The Fugitive's Properties sets new agendas for scholars of American literature and legal culture.

Industry Reviews

"The Fugitive's Properties explores how nineteenth-century property law informed the history of race relations in the United States. Stephen Best shows how conceptions of slave property and personhood travel across time to unrelated aesthetic and cultural realms. This entirely new approach to the study of law and literature will dramatically reconfigure black cultural studies." - Susan Gillman, University of California, Santa Cruz"

ISBN: 9780226044347
ISBN-10: 0226044343
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 376
Published: 1st May 2004
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.7 x 15.3  x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.54
Edition Number: 2

Earn 114 Qantas Points
on this Book