Lawless Liaisons: Kinship, Interraciality, and Queer Desire in the US Hemispheric South, 1791-1865


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation situates the place of slavery in queer studies. This study maintains a concerted literary and historical focus on sexuality within the US slave economy and the hemispheric plantation system from 1791-1865. Drawing on histories of interracial desire in sensational fiction, visual satires, and legal cases, the project confronts the vivid paradox of unhinging interracial liaisons from its largely heterosexual domain. It argues that a focus on various interracial desires – including master-slave sexual acts, extralegal concubinage, same-sex desire, cross-dressing and gender-play – allows for a more inclusive study of the sexual landscape of the early nineteenth century before the advent of the culturally defining and legally limiting terms of miscegenation, heterosexual, and homosexual.