Lenora Warren tells a new story about the troubled history of abolition and slave violence by examining representations of shipboard mutiny and insurrection in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Anglo-American and American literature. Fire on the Water centers on five black sailors, whose experiences of slavery and insurrection either inspired or found resonance within fiction: Olaudah Equiano, Denmark Vesey, Joseph Cinque, Madison Washington, and Washington Goode. These stories of sailors, both real and fictional, reveal how the history of mutiny and insurrection is both shaped by, and resistant to, the prevailing abolitionist rhetoric surrounding the efficacy of armed rebellion as a response to slavery. Pairing well-known texts with lesser-known figures (Billy Budd and Washington Goode) and well-known figures with lesser-known texts (Denmark Vesey and the work of John Howison), this book reveals the richness of literary engagement with the politics of slave violence.
Recommended. --Hester Blum Choice This book shows Lenora Warren working fluidly across US literary studies, African American studies and the literature of the African diaspora, Atlantic history, oceanic studies, and colonial and Early Republic literature. The book's topic is superb: the role of black sailors, particularly enslaved or emancipated black sailors, has been woefully understudied (other than the historiographic work of Jeffrey Bolster in Black Jacks or the articles of Charles Foy). In locating both revolutionary potential and abolitionist inspiration in the insurrectionary activity of black sailors, Warren provides a fresh, exciting new unit of analysis for scholars and students of American literary history. I cannot stress enough how vital and necessary the topic is, and how overlooked it has been. --Hester Blum Pennsylvania State University and President of the Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists Readers will find Fire on the Water an important contribution to the study of slavery and abolitionism. Moreover, this book also makes major contributions to Black Atlantic studies and to maritime and oceanic studies at large. Scholars working in these fields will find Warren's book essential reading. They will also find the book's clarity and concision impressive. Fire on the Water will teach well in both the undergraduate and graduate classrooms. --Hester Blum ALH Online Review New Books Network - New Books in History podcast interview with Lenora Warren https: //newbooksnetwork.com/lenora-warren-fire-on-the-water-sailors-slaves-and-insurrection-in-early-american-literature-1789-1886-rutgers-up-2019/--Hester Blum New Books Network