Edlie Wong is the author of Racial Reconstruction: Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship (NYU Press, 2015) and Neither Fugitive nor Free: Atlantic Slavery, Freedom Suits, and the Legal Culture of Travel (NYU Press, 2009). She is also co-editor of a scholarly edition of George Lippard's novella, The Killers (UPenn Press, 2014). Currently, she is at work on a new project entitled, Empire and the Black Pacific: A Record of the Darker Races.
Her work has also appeared in American Literary History, Social Text, American Literature, African American Review, Victorian Literature and Culture, and Prose Studies, in anthologies, including The Haitian Revolution and the Early United States, Routledge Research Companion to Law and Humanities in Nineteenth Century America, Oxford History of the Novel in English, American Literary Geographies, and The Image and the Witness, and online at openDemocracy.
She is the recipient of fellowships from the NEH and Mellon Foundation and serves as the President of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (2020-2022). Prior to joining Maryland in 2010, she was an Associate Professor of English at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her teaching and research interests include nineteenth-century American, African American, and Asian American literatures, law and literature, the black Atlantic, critical race studies, and gender studies.
“An Unexpected Direction: Pauline Hopkins, S.E.F.C.C. Hamedoe, and the ‘Dark Races of the Twentieth Century'"
Featured in American Literary History
American Literary History 32.4 (Winter 2020): 723-754.
This essay mines the earliest and most influential of African American literary magazines, the Boston-based Colored American Magazine (CAM) (1900–09), and its southern rival, the Atlanta-based Voice of the Negro (1904–07), to investigate how black writers and activists addressed the links between US race relations, settler colonialism, and empire in the Pacific. Spanning these two periodicals, Pauline Hopkins’s work as an editor and contributor grappled with the question of how to represent, engage, and position Black Americans in a globalizing world that was at once becoming more vast, heterogeneous, and integrated. Race remained a powerful structuring principle, yet it accrued dynamic new meanings in the era of new imperialism. Along the way, the essay investigates an unexplored facet of Hopkins’s authorship and compositional style. It speculates that Hopkins may have published under another as yet unattributed pen name. The enigmatic S. E. F. C. C. Hamedoe was one of the most significant of regular CAM contributors. Before disappearing from print history, Hamedoe published a four-year-long series that mapped the political contours of the emerging Global South, crisscrossing continents and oceans. The extensive connections between Hamedoe’s writings and Hopkins’s final known completed series beg the question of whether they were one and the same.
"Storytelling and the Comparative Study of Atlantic Slavery and Freedom."
This article investigates the possibilities of storytelling and black Atlantic literature in forging new critical approaches to the archive of New World Asian indenture.
Racial Reconstruction: Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship
The end of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade triggered wide-scale labor shortages across the U.S. and Caribbean. Planters looked to China as a source for labor replenishment, importing indentured laborers in what became known as “coolieism.”
The Killers: A Narrative of Real Life in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA, the 1840s: a corrupt banker disowns his dissolute son, who then reappears as a hardened smuggler in the contraband slave trade.
PHILADELPHIA, the 1840s: a corrupt banker disowns his dissolute son, who then reappears as a hardened smuggler in the contraband slave trade. Another son, hidden from his father since birth and condemned as a former felon, falls in with a ferocious street gang led by his elder brother and his revenge-hungry comrade from Cuba. His adopted sister, a beautiful actress, is kidnapped, and her remorseful black captor becomes her savior as his tavern is engulfed in flames. Vendetta, gang violence, racial tensions, and international intrigue collide in an explosive novella based on the events leading up to an infamous 1849 Philadelphia race riot. The Killers takes the reader on a fast-paced journey from the hallowed halls of academia at Yale College to the dismal solitary cells of Eastern State Penitentiary and through southwest Philadelphia's community of free African Americans. Though the book's violence was ignited by the particulars of Philadelphia life and politics, the flames were fanned by nationwide anxieties about race, labor, immigration, and sexuality that emerged in the young republic.
Penned by fiery novelist, labor activist, and reformer George Lippard (1822-1854) and first serialized in 1849, The Killers was the work of a wildly popular writer who outsold Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne in his lifetime. Long out of print, the novella now appears in an edition supplemented with a brief biography of the author, an untangling of the book's complex textual history, and excerpts from related contemporaneous publications. Editors Matt Cohen and Edlie L. Wong set the scene of an antebellum Philadelphia rife with racial and class divisions, implicated in the international slave trade, and immersed in Cuban annexation schemes to frame this compact and compelling tale.
Serving up in a short form the same heady mix of sensational narrative, local color, and impassioned politics found in Lippard's sprawling The Quaker City, or The Monks of Monks Hall, The Killers is here brought back to lurid life.
“In a Future Tense: Immigration Law, Counterfactual Histories, and Chinese Invasion Fiction”
During the final weeks of the November 2010 elections, in which Republican candidates and the Tea Party ousted long-term Democrats to regain the House majority, a slick, 60-second television advertisement entitled “Chinese Professor” dramatizing the peril
“Comparative Racialization, Immigration Law, and James Williams's Life and Adventures"
Wong’s essay investigates James Williams’s largely forgotten postbellum slave narrative, The Life and Adventures of James Williams, A Fugitive Slave (1873) to chart the various constellations of racial formations emerging from the politics and cultures of
“‘Freedom with a Vengeance’: Choosing Kin in Antislavery Literature and Law.”
Wong's essay charts the legal controversies over slaves brought into New England after Massachusetts Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw's forceful application of the celebrated British civil suit, Somerset v. Stewart (1772), in the landmark case of the slave girl
“Anti-Slavery Cosmopolitanism in the Black Atlantic.”
British merchant vessels plying the waters of these lucrative Atlantic economies were often crewed by those colonial subjects whom they once held as commodities.
Neither Fugitive Nor Free: Atlantic Slavery, Freedom Suits, and the Legal Culture of Travel
Part of the American Literatures Initiative Series.
Professor Edlie L. Wong contends that slavery and its logic of property had a profound effect on the notion of travel and freedom in the Atlantic World. British and American slaveholders traveled with the assumption that their right to free mobility extended to their enslaved servants. But slaves are rarely mentioned in travel accounts of the time that romanticized mobility as a unique expression of individual freedom and autonomy.Recuperating the untold narratives of slaves who accompanied their masters on trips to free territories, Professor Wong argues that these journeys between free and enslaved territories challenge the cultural logic of slavery and freedom and offer an alternative view of history to the already established genres of abolitionist and fugitive slave narratives. A volume in the new series America and the Long 19th Century.
Neither Fugitive nor Free draws on the freedom suit as recorded in the press and court documents to offer a critically and historically engaged understanding of the freedom celebrated in the literary and cultural histories of transatlantic abolitionism. Freedom suits involved those enslaved valets, nurses, and maids who accompanied slaveholders onto free soil. Once brought into a free jurisdiction, these attendants became informally free, even if they were taken back to a slave jurisdiction—at least according to abolitionists and the enslaved themselves. In order to secure their freedom formally, slave attendants or others on their behalf had to bring suit in a court of law.
“‘Neither is Memory Always Thus Avenging’: Longing for Kinship in Julia C. Collins’s Curse of Caste and the Christian Recorder."
From African American Review 40.4 (2006): 687-704.
“‘Turned Out of Doors’: Voluntary Return and Captive Agency in the Case of Mary Prince.”
This article examines Mary Prince's 1831 account of her life in colonial slavery in order to ascertain her position as West Indian “slave” in England and her contingent status as a “free British subject” as long as she remained immobilized and bound to a
President of C19: Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
C19: Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
The first academic organization dedicated to nineteenth-century American literary studies, C19 was co-founded by CALS faculty members Hester Blum, Chris Castiglia, and Sean Goudie, who currently serve on the C19 Advisory Board.