|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
Progress After Slavery uncovers a surprising answer to this question in the writings of American authors and activists, both black and white. Conventional narratives of democracy stretching from Thomas Jefferson's America to our own posit a purposeful break between past and present as the key to the
viability of this political form--the only way to ensure its continual development. But for Pauline E. Hopkins, Frederick Douglass, Stephen Crane, W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles W. Chesnutt, Sutton E. Griggs, Callie House, and the other figures examined in this book, the campaign to secure liberty and
equality for all citizens proceeds most potently when it refuses the precepts of progressive time. Placing these authors' post-Civil War writings into dialogue with debates about racial optimism and pessimism, tracts on progress, and accounts of ex-slave pension activism, and extending their
insights into our contemporary period, Laski recovers late-nineteenth-century literature as a vibrant site for doing political theory. Untimely Democracy ultimately shows how one of the bleakest periods in American racial history provided fertile terrain for a radical reconstruction of our most
fundamental assumptions about this political system. Offering resources for moments when the march of progress seems to stutter and even stop, this book invites us to reconsider just what democracy can make possible.