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Transformable RaceSurprising Metamorphoses in the Literature of Early America$
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Katy L. Chiles

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199313501

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199313501.001.0001

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Interiorizing Racial Metamorphosis: The Algerine Captive’s Language of Sympathy

Interiorizing Racial Metamorphosis: The Algerine Captive’s Language of Sympathy

(p.201) { Epilogue } Interiorizing Racial Metamorphosis: The Algerine Captive’s Language of Sympathy
Transformable Race

Katy L. Chiles

Oxford University Press

The epilogue shows how Royall Tyler’s novel marks the shift from eighteenth-century conceptions of an external, flexible race to later beliefs about internal and fixed racial differences. A fictional Barbary captivity story, The Algerine Captive uses eighteenth-century theories of sentiment to depict racial difference moving “inside” the body. While working as a physician on a slave ship, Dr. Updike Underhill’s profound sympathetic identification with African slaves “blackens” his soul in a metaphorical interior racial metamorphosis. Because his cross-racial sympathy is closely linked to his enslavement, Underhill represses that identification upon his return to the United States in order to reinstate his citizenship status. The narrative depicts that the white citizen can transform into the rhetorically internally raced slave; however, it simultaneously denies white-black affective identification and the abolitionist sentiment to which it gives rise.

Keywords:   Royall Tyler, The Algerine Captive, sentiment, sympathy, race, racial metamorphosis, citizenship

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