Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (Compact Disc)

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Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval Cover Image
By Saidiya Hartman, Allyson Johnson (Narrated by)
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Staff Reviews

The characters in Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments are rarely written about.  For the most part stories about women of color born into poverty are lost or erased, they survive only as names in the ledgers of correctional facilities, or a point of evidence in some sociologist's dissection of a social problem. Hartman's book is an in-depth study of just these kinds of girls, women who were part of the great migration to the north after Emancipation, girls who ended up in riots, or a chorus line, instead of a home or a steady job. Because there's so little concrete evidence about these women, Hartman's book is part fiction, part history, filled with exquisite descriptions of heartbreak and lost virginities and long nights, of the smell of summer in Harlem and the screech of voices on the Atlantic City boardwalk. This is history told as fiction because it is, in part, the only way it can be recovered, and I promise you it will be one of the most astonishingly beautiful books you have ever read.

— Madeleine


In Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Saidiya Hartman examines the revolution of black intimate life that unfolded in Philadelphia and New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. Free love, common-law and transient marriages, queer relations, and single motherhood were among the sweeping changes that altered the character of everyday life and challenged traditional Victorian beliefs about courtship, love, and marriage. Hartman narrates the story of this radical social transformation against the grain of the prevailing century-old argument about the crisis of the black family. In wrestling with the question of what a free life is, many young black women created forms of intimacy and kinship that were indifferent to the dictates of respectability. They cleaved to and cast off lovers, exchanged sex to subsist, and revised the meaning of marriage. Longing and desire fueled their experiments in how to live. They refused to labor like slaves or to accept degrading conditions of work. Beautifully written and deeply researched, Wayward Lives re-creates the experience of young urban black women who desired an existence qualitatively different than the one that had been scripted for them-domestic service, second-class citizenship, and respectable poverty-and whose intimate revolution was apprehended as crime and pathology.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781684418732
ISBN-10: 1684418739
Publisher: HighBridge Audio
Publication Date: April 9th, 2019
Language: English