Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man

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Product Details
Belknap Press
Publish Date
5.7 X 8.5 X 0.8 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author
Joshua Bennett is a professor of English at Dartmouth. He is the author of five books of poetry, criticism, and narrative nonfiction: The Sobbing School (2016), winner of the National Poetry Series and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award; Being Property Once Myself (2020), winner of the MLA's William Sanders Scarborough Prize; Owed (2020); The Study of Human Life (2022); and Spoken Word: A Cultural History (2023). For his creative writing and scholarship, he has received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, MIT, and the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. He lives in Massachusetts.
Being Property Once Myself is destined to be an event. Exhilarating and original, it is as much a work of literary history as it is of literary theory, as much a poetic invocation as it is critical intervention, and as much about animals as it is about people, elegantly uniting the many singularities that constitute, collectively, black literary culture.--Akira Mizuta Lippit, author of Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife
Bennett writes so beautifully that it hurts. Imagine a world of animals--rats, cocks, mules, and dogs--that prompt renewed ways of seeing, thinking, and living beyond cages or chains. These absorbing, deeply moving pages bring to life a newly reclaimed ethics, and black feeling beyond the claims of property or propriety.--Colin Dayan, author of With Dogs at the Edge of Life and The Law Is a White Dog
A tremendously illuminating study of how black writers wrestle with black precarity. Bennett's refreshing and field-defining approach shows how both classic and contemporary African American authors undo long-held assumptions of the animal-human divide.--Salamishah Tillet, author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination
A gripping work...Bennett's lyrical lilt in his sharp analyses makes for a thorough yet accessible read...Adds to a growing body of critical work that tackles social issues in relation to the realm of 'nature, ' pushing back simultaneously against the whiteness of both literary studies and ecocriticism.--Lydia Ayame Hiraide "LSE Review of Books" (1/8/2021 12:00:00 AM)
This trenchant work of literary criticism examines the complex ways 20th- and 21st-century African American authors have written about animals. In Bennett's analysis, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Jesmyn Ward, and others subvert the racist comparisons that have 'been used against them as a tool of derision and denigration.'...An intense and illuminating reevaluation of black literature and Western thought.--Ron Charles "Washington Post"
By turns leading-edge and unaffected, revelatory and understated, Bennett appears much less concerned to prove that his chops as a critic and theorist are equal to his poetic abilities...By way of close readings of some well-established, and a few wholly unnoticed, scenes of black/Animal apposition or relationality, Bennett's Being Property shares in the ensemblic turn toward black ecological criticism and theory exploring blackness, animality, ground-life, and philosophical posthumanism...Bennett stands to add many more fans to the crowd of us who've relished his poetic talents over many years.--Maurice Wallace "S-USIH: Society for U.S. Intellectual History" (8/6/2022 12:00:00 AM)
Bennett makes an important contribution to the fields of Black studies and critical animal studies while offering a uniquely lyrical voice of literary criticism.--Bénédicte Boisseron "American Literary History" (9/29/2022 12:00:00 AM)