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  • Acknowledgments  ix
    Introduction. Sentimental Biopower  1
    1. Taxonomies of Feeling: Sensation and Sentiment in Evolutionary Race Science  35
    2. Body as Text, Race as Palimpsest: Frances E. W. Harper and Black Feminist Biopolitics  68
    3. Vaginal Impressions: Gyno-neurology and the Racial Origins of Sexual Difference  100
    4. Incremental Life: Biophilanthropy and the Child Migrants of the Lower East Side  134
    5. From Impressibility to Interactionism: W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Eugenics, and the Struggle against Genetic Determinisms  172
    Epilogue. The Afterlives of Impressibility  205
    Notes  215
    Bibliography  247
    Index  271
  • "The Biopolitics of Feeling is a work of tremendous synthesizing reach and power. Shifting the whole frame in which we conceive of race and sex across the vast project of nineteenth-century American sentimentality, Kyla Schuller brings the biopolitical turn to the realm of Americanist criticism with an exemplary rigorousness and vision. Her book is a major accomplishment." — Peter Coviello, author of, Tomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America

    "With scintillating attention to a telling archive, Kyla Schuller has taken nineteenth-century sentimentalism toward a set of critical consequences within the realm of biopower at large, speaking to a wide range of readers from science studies to critical race, feminist, affect, and materiality studies. Schuller's talents for excavation enable a rich and supple, necessarily defamiliarizing account of the traffic among gender, race, sexuality, and the political that comes back around to inform our presents anew." — Mel Y. Chen, author of, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect

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  • Description

    In The Biopolitics of Feeling Kyla Schuller unearths the forgotten, multiethnic sciences of impressibility—the capacity to be transformed by one's environment and experiences—to uncover how biopower developed in the United States. Schuller challenges prevalent interpretations of biopower and literary cultures to reveal how biopower emerged within the discourses and practices of sentimentalism. Through analyses of evolutionary theories, gynecological sciences, abolitionist poetry and other literary texts, feminist tracts, child welfare reforms, and black uplift movements, Schuller excavates a vast apparatus that regulated the capacity of sensory and emotional feeling in an attempt to shape the evolution of the national population. Her historical and theoretical work exposes the overlooked role of sex difference in population management and the optimization of life, illuminating how models of binary sex function as one of the key mechanisms of racializing power. Schuller thereby overturns long-accepted frameworks of the nature of race and sex difference, offers key corrective insights to modern debates surrounding the equation of racism with determinism and the liberatory potential of ideas about the plasticity of the body, and reframes contemporary notions of sentiment, affect, sexuality, evolution, and heredity.

    About The Author(s)

    Kyla Schuller is Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
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