Department of English Department of English College of Arts and Sciences
Spring 2011 Course Descriptions
In this course we will examine the slave narrative and its function in antebellum America. As one of the first literary vehicles available to enslaved Africans, the slave narrative functions to give voice to a people that have been stripped of their basic humanity. The production of and performance of the slave narrative was vitally important to abolitionist movement; these narratives were designed to invoke such sympathy in its readers that they would be inspired to fight for the end of slavery. We will read, analyze, and critique the development of the genre and its utilitarian functionality to the abolitionist cause. What were these runaway slaves encouraged to publish? How much agency did they have when being used as tools for the abolitionist cause? How did the genre differ based on the gender of the author? And, finally, we will end the semester by reading a neo-slave narrative, which is a narrative written in the contemporary that is modeled after the nineteenth century narrative conventions. Neo-slave narratives aim to alter readers’ perceptions or stereotypes regarding slavery and slaves.

 

Required Texts:

 

Running a Thousand Miles For Freedom. The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery - William and Ellen Craft  - ISBN: 9780820321042

 

 

Behind the Scenes; or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House - Elizabeth Keckley - ISBN: 9780195060843

 

Frederick Douglass. Autobiographies - Frederick Douglass - ISBN: 9780940450790

 

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written By Himself and Other Writings - Olaudah Equiano - ISBN: 9780140434859

 

Kindred - Octavia Butler - 9780807083697

 

Online

Shelby Crosby
scrosby1@memphis.edu

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