The Genealogy of (Im)Morals

  • Michael E. Sawyer


This section endeavors to frame the Atlantic World’s plantation generally and Jefferson’s Monticello specifically as factories of particular types of Exalted and Abject beings. Sally Hemings, the property (enslaved woman) and mistress (mother of his children) of Thomas Jefferson, is examined as a particular type of revolutionary actor that captures agency through the self-alienation of her own freedom in order to secure that of her progeny. This is in counter-point to other modes of agency employed by enslaved women that included infanticide as presented in Morrison’s Beloved as a method of recapturing lost agency and shattering the essential genealogical logic of the enslaved condition.


  1. Gordon-Reed, Annette. 2008. The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
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  3. Nancy, Jean-Luc. 2008. Noli Me Tangere: On the Raising of the Body. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Sloterdijk, Peter. 2011. Bubbles: Spheres I. South Pasadena: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. Sawyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Colorado CollegeColorado SpringsUSA

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