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Honor and Slavery
Author: Kenneth S. Greenberg

ISBN: 9780691017198
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 192
Published: 28 September 1997
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.11 x 15.42 x 1.47
Description:


The "honorable men" who ruled the Old South had a language all their own, one comprised of many apparently outlandish features yet revealing much about the lives of masters and the nature of slavery. When we examine Jefferson Davis's explanation as to why he was wearing women's clothing when caught by Union soldiers, or when we consider the story of Virginian statesman John Randolph, who stood on his doorstep declaring to an unwanted dinner guest that he was "not at home," we see that conveying empirical truths was not the goal of their speech. Kenneth Greenberg so skillfully demonstrates, the language of honor embraced a complex system of phrases, gestures, and behaviors that centered on deep-rooted values: asserting authority and maintaining respect. How these values were encoded in such acts as nose-pulling, outright lying, dueling, and gift-giving is a matter that Greenberg takes up in a fascinating and original way.

The author looks at a range of situations when the words and gestures of honor came into play, and he re-creates the contexts and associations that once made them comprehensible. We understand, for example, th...

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