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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 September 2021

The Colored Museum

The Colored Museum

William “Ethiop” Wilson and the Afric-American Picture Gallery

(p.145) 7 The Colored Museum
Specters of Democracy

Ivy G. Wilson

Oxford University Press

In turning to one of the most curious stories in all of African American literature—William J. Wilson's “Afric-American Picture Gallery” (1859)—this last chapter examines the relationship between visuality and curatorial practices as they relate to the representations of an alternative vision of U.S. nation formation and democracy. It contends that “Afric-American Picture Gallery” remains important not only as a contemporaneous account of various artwork but for its depiction of “Ethiop” as the curator who arranges the space of the museum. More theoretically, the chapter offers a reading about how to reconsider the making of the antebellum black public sphere, one where the discourse of politics is translated into objets d'art in the recesses of the mind as an act of interiorization, one where each reader ostensibly becomes an artist at the moment of visualizing these very images.

Keywords:   William J. Wilson, visualization, curatorial, spatial arrangement, compositional zones, ekphratic, counter-public, Ethiop, trans-national

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