'Til Death Or Distance Do Us Part: Love and Marriage in African America

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Oxford University Press, Jan 12, 2010 - Social Science - 224 pages
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Conventional wisdom tells us that marriage was illegal for African Americans during the antebellum era, and that if people married at all, their vows were tenuous ones: "until death or distance do us part." It is an impression that imbues beliefs about black families to this day. But it's a perception primarily based on documents produced by abolitionists, the state, or other partisans. It doesn't tell the whole story. Drawing on a trove of less well-known sources including family histories, folk stories, memoirs, sermons, and especially the fascinating writings from the Afro-Protestant Press,'Til Death or Distance Do Us Part offers a radically different perspective on antebellum love and family life. Frances Smith Foster applies the knowledge she's developed over a lifetime of reading and thinking. Advocating both the potency of skepticism and the importance of story-telling, her book shows the way toward a more genuine, more affirmative understanding of African American romance, both then and now.
 

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Contents

Adam and Eve Antoney and Isabella
1
Terms of Endearment
28
Practical Thoughts Divine Mandates and the AfroProtestant Press
55
Rights and Rituals
71
Myths Memory and SelfRealization
94
Getting Stories Straight Keeping Them Real
116
Alchemy of Personal Politics
143
Me Mende and Sankofa An Epilogue
159
Notes
171
Index
181
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About the author (2010)

Frances Smith Foster is Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Women's Studies (Emeritus) at Emory University. Her previous books include Written By Herself: Literary Production by African American Women, 1746-1892 (Indiana UP, 1993), Witnessing Slavery: The Development of the Ante-Bellum Slave Narrative (Greenwood, 1979), and several edited collections. Her VSI to African American Literature is forthcoming.

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