Salamishah Tillet's Sites of Slavery brilliantly explores aesthetic and political appropriations of chattel slavery by “African American writers, artists, and intellectuals” in “the post–civil rights” era. Tillet theorizes how these figures address a contemporary “crisis of citizenship by revisiting the antebellum past” (3). The “democratic aesthetic” they enact “consider[s] the demands of a post–civil rights political project.” These culture workers face a political predicament somewhat different from that of “their antebellum predecessors who shaped their rhetoric around the demand for legal freedom” (4). Post–civil rights cultural productions carry “a lingering DuBoisean ‘twoness’ at the dawn of yet another century,” oscillating “between the pessimism of civic estrangement and the privilege of African American legal citizenship” (4). African American artists and intellectuals return to “sites”—texts, images, and locales—from the slave past in order to redefine America's “civic myths.” I will restrict my comments to...

You do not currently have access to this content.