Cover: Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America, from Harvard University PressCover: Clinging to Mammy in HARDCOVER

Clinging to Mammy

The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$29.50 • £23.95 • €26.50

ISBN 9780674024335

Publication Date: 10/31/2007

Short

336 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

16 halftones

World

If you want to understand the ways that white women exploited black women’s domestic labor and how Hollywood and Madison Avenue went on to make billions marketing that exploitation, this is the text to read. McElya’s book clarifies why we should not expect simple or enduring political alliances based on gender unless and until we have some very serious, difficult, and sustained conversations around class and race.—Melissa Harris-Perry, Elle

Details the tenacious hold of the ‘mammy’ myth of contented colored folk on white public imagination.Multidiversity: Myers Book Commentary

McElya’s powerful blend of cultural and political history illuminates the ways twentieth-century white Southerners tried to maintain their historic privilege while denying the violence of their past. Following the trajectory from Aunt Jemima to Ronald Reagan’s ‘welfare queen,’ Clinging to Mammy traces white Americans’ efforts to define, coerce and reap the benefits of African American women’s labor while maintaining a firm grip on political power.—Jane Dailey, author of Before Jim Crow: The Politics of Race in Postemancipation Virginia

Americans loved Aunt Jemima and their mammies. There is no more powerful and damaging popular symbol in American culture than the faithful slave in all its manifestations. McElya’s sensitive, surprising, and enlightening book will make readers wonder at how desperate white America was to believe that slaves were loyal and content. This book is painfully marvelous scholarship that should reach a broad readership.—David Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

Few American icons have been as comforting or as destructive as the black mammy. If lynching was the brutal face of white supremacy, Aunt Jemima and her ilk were the face of the white fantasy of harmonious race relations. With exceptional scholarly craft, McElya reveals the distortions, hardships, and tragedy that the smiling face and jovial demeanor of the mythic black mammy were intended to obscure. This book signals the arrival of a talented new historian.—W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory

McElya shows vividly how ‘mammy’ serves as a perfect archetype for analyzing cultural politics of race and gender, and how they changed. She gives us parlor theatrics, courtroom drama, legislative debate, and movement politics. This is a wonderfully expansive book.—Scott A. Sandage, author of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America

Awards & Accolades

  • 2007 Gustavus Myers Center Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights
Common Reads: First-Year Experience [picture of open book]

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket, In Mrs. Tully’s Room: A Childcare Portrait by Vivian Gussin Paley, Harvard University Press

Remembering Vivian Gussin Paley

Renowned educator and author Vivian Gussin Paley died recently. Her former editor at Harvard University Press, Elizabeth Knoll, looks back on her life and work, which emphasized storytelling as an important tool in children’s learning. Vivian Gussin Paley was a small, gray-haired schoolteacher

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library (loebclassics.com) extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.