Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Empire of RuinBlack Classicism and American Imperial Culture$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

John Levi Barnard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190663599

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190663599.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

In Plain Sight

In Plain Sight

Slavery and the Architecture of Democracy

(p.59) 2 In Plain Sight
Empire of Ruin

John Levi Barnard

Oxford University Press

This chapter elaborates three primary elements of “black classicism” that African American writers, editors, and activists would develop in relation to dominant modes of classicism and monumental culture: the appropriation of the classically inflected rhetoric of revolutionary liberty to the cause of radical abolitionism; the critical juxtaposition of the neoclassical architecture of national buildings and monuments with images of the infrastructure of slavery; and the imaginative transformation of these buildings and monuments from icons of democracy and civilization to symbols of imperial hubris and harbingers of ruin. The chapter traces these developments through the pages of black newspapers and abolitionist polemics by radical figures such as David Walker, Henry Highland Garnet, and especially William Wells Brown. Brown draws together all the elements of antebellum black classicism in writings across a number of genres, from memoir and travel narrative to moving panorama, antislavery lecture, and finally his novel Clotel.

Keywords:   slavery, abolitionism, Henry Highland Garnet, David Walker, William Wells Brown, African American newspapers, Washington, DC, monumental culture, architecture, US Capitol

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .