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Outlyers: Maroons and Marronage in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Literature


“Outlyers: Maroons and Marronage in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Literature,” foregrounds an archival pursuit in which recovery is deprioritized. Crucial to this study is an archival paradox: Maroons absented themselves from the printed record, eschewed the position of author, only to be figured and represented by others who, expectedly, struggled with the depiction of a practice they could not know firsthand. The intentional erasure of “traces” by maroons was necessary to the successful practice of marronage. The project is organized around four “maroon objects”—the portrait, the fetish, the epaulette, and the hatchet—that recur in historical representations concerning maroons. These maroon objects mediate maroon subject and text.

My first chapter, “Maroon Portraits,” examines the circulating narratives of La Mulâtresse Solitude of Guadeloupe. Solitude sits for a portrait that is continuously painted, as artists insist on producing visual images in tension with the long textual record that precedes them. Chapter Two, “Maroon Fetishes,” reads the proliferation of fetishes in Le Macandal by Marie Augustin and other iterations of the story of Haitian Maroon leader François Macandal. I read for the extension of belief in a fetish’s power to the realm of fiction and representation. In Chapter Three, “Maroon Epaulettes,” I examine how Victor Hugo, William Wells Brown and George Washington Cable work through the maroon’s military position in the context of slave revolution. Their depictions highlight the maroon practice of camouflage through the representation of military uniform, epaulettes in particular. The final chapter, “Maroon Hatchets,” examines the severing violence of the hatchet as employed by authors representing the earliest moments of marronage. The chapter reads works by Aimée Césaire, Victor Séjour and Martin Delany, who turn to formal innovations in their imaginings of the individual’s path to marronage.

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