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Specters of DemocracyBlackness and the Aesthetics of Politics in the Antebellum U.S.$
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Ivy G. Wilson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195337372

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195337372.001.0001

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Framing the Margins

Framing the Margins

Geometries of Space and American Genre Painting

(p.103) 5 Framing the Margins
Specters of Democracy

Ivy G. Wilson

Oxford University Press

This chapter illuminates how the compositional logic of American genre painting strategically organized zones in terms of centers and margins in various settings as different as parlors, fields, and post offices as a means to illustrate the forms of national belonging. In works by William Sidney Mount, Richard Caton Woodville, Eastman Johnson, and Winslow Homer, it analyzes the depiction of written notices, furniture, and attire as political devices that materialize space as a social domain. It pays particular attention to the ways that African American subjects are literalized as shadows in many of these paintings, tucked away into corners of parlors or hovering on the outskirts of scenes of entertainment, through an analytic of what it theorizes as “the social logic of spatial forms”.

Keywords:   spatialization, social logic of spatial forms, William Sidney Mount, Richard Caton Woodville, Eastman Johnson, Winslow Homer, recognition, interiority

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