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Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846Living an Antislavery Life$
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Alasdair Pettinger

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474444255

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474444255.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 26 May 2020

Measuring Heads, Reading Faces

Measuring Heads, Reading Faces

Chapter:
(p.169) Part IV Measuring Heads, Reading Faces
Source:
Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846
Author(s):

Alasdair Pettinger

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474444255.003.0004

The fourth chapter takes off from Douglass’s meeting in Edinburgh with the phrenologist George Combe in order to investigate Douglass’ complex attitudes towards mid-century racial science and visual culture. Douglass’ own suspicion of the prevailing assumption that physical appearance offered a reliable guide to character was intensified by the awareness that the novelty of his appearance was drawing audiences, already familiar with the performances of blackface minstrel troupes, which toured Scotland at the same time. It also helps to explain his willingness to overrule his Irish publisher over which portrait to use for the frontispiece of a new edition of his Narrative, after arriving in Glasgow with only a few copies left. Following the dispute in some detail, the chapter goes on to suggest why Douglass disliked the first portrait so much and took great pains to have it replaced.

Keywords:   blackface minstrelsy, character, Combe, Edinburgh, performance, phrenology, portraiture, racial science

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