In Legal Fictions, Karla FC Holloway both argues that U.S. racial identity is the creation of U.S. law and demonstrates how black authors of literary fiction have engaged with the law's constructions of race since the era of slavery. Exploring the resonance between U.S. literature and U.S. jurisprudence, Holloway reveals Toni Morrison's Beloved and Charles Johnson's Middle Passage as stories about personhood and property, David Bradley's The Chaneysville Incident and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as structured by evidence law, and Nella Larsen's Passing as intimately related to contract law. Holloway engages the intentional, contradictory, and capricious constructions of race embedded in the law with the same energy that she brings to her masterful interpretations of fiction by U.S. writers. Her readings shed new light on the many ways that black U.S. authors have reframed fundamental questions about racial identity, personhood, and the law from the nineteenth into the twenty-first centuries. Legal Fictions is a bold declaration that the black body is thoroughly bound by law and an unflinching look at the implications of that claim.
Karla FC Holloway is James B. Duke Professor of English at Duke University, where she also holds appointments in the Law School, Women's Studies, and African & African American Studies, and is an affiliated faculty with the Institute on Care at the End of Life and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine. She serves on the Greenwall Foundation's Advisory Board in Bioethics, and was recently elected to the Hastings Center Fellows Association. Holloway is the author of BookMarks: Reading in Black and White and Codes of Conduct: Race, Ethics, and the Color of Our Character, as well as Private Bodies, Public Texts: Race, Gender, and a Cultural Bioethics and Passed On: African American Mourning Stories: A Memorial, both published by Duke University Press.
Preface ix Introduction: Bound by Law 1 Intimate Intersectionalities-Scalar Reflections 5 Public Fictions, Private Facts 9 Simile as Precedent 13 Property, Contract, and Evidentiary Values 17 1. The Claims of Property: On Being and Belonging 23 The Capital in Question 27 Imagined Liberalism 35 Mapping Racial Reason 41 Being in Place: Landscape, Never Inscape 49 2. Bodies as Evidence (of Things Not Seen) 55 Secondhand Tales and Hearsay 59 Black Legibility-Can I Get a Witness? 72 Trying to Read Me 77 3. Composing Contract 89 "A novel-like tenor" 93 Passing and Protection 96 A Secluded Colored Neighborhood 102 Epilogue. When and Where "All the Dark-Glass Boys" Enter 111 A Contagion of Madness 113 Notes 127 References 139 Acknowledgments 145 Index 147