In this introduction to the special issue New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual, Huey Copeland and Krista Thompson not only frame the scholarly essays and artists' portfolios collected in the volume but also argue for a reorientation of both art history and black studies in light of the ongoing specular effects of racial bondage. In so doing, they underline the importance of the visual to the rewiring of slavery's imaginary by examining the ways in which black subjects have appropriated widely available representational means only to undo their formal contours, break apart their significatory logic, or reduce them to their very substance.

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