Conjuring as a Critique of Medical Racism in Charles Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales

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Virginia Tech


Charles W. Chesnutt has long been regarded as one of the most influential African American writers of the 19th-century, and his works have been lauded for their skillful maneuvering of language, audience, and cultural forms. The The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales has often been considered Chesnutt's most influential work and has attracted great interest from readers and scholars alike. Though Chesnutt scholarship often focuses on new ways of reading the works or the effectiveness of the author's subversive techniques, one focus that has been mostly overlooked is the work's ability to challenge racist medical dialogues prevalent throughout the 19th-century. This project uses a lens of conjuring, one of the most powerful and compelling forces in Chesnutt's work, to examine ways that The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales can be read as a subversion of 19th-century medical doctrine.



Conjuring, The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales, Charles W. Chesnutt, Race Theories, Medicine