African american slave narrative


Published on

Published in: Education
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

African american slave narrative

  1. 1. The African American Slave NarrativeAdapted By: Zikia Jones-Martin
  2. 2. Background Information• Equianos Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789) considered as the formative example early in the tradition• The book established the emblematic subtitle “written by himself/herself”• Most well-known examples of the 19th century: Frederick *Douglass, William Wells *Brown, and Harriet A. *Jacobs• “end of the tradition:” thousands of oral histories of former slaves gathered by the Federal Writers Project in the 1920s and 1930s
  3. 3. Purposes– narratives were used by abolitionists toproclaim the antislavery gospel during theantebellum era in the United States–exposed the inhumanity of the slave system–Truth/authenticity: proving both the credibilityof the personal account and its representativequality for the treatment of slaves in general–gave evidence of the humanity of the AfricanAmerican, esp. the intellectual equalities andcapacities of African Americans
  4. 4. Thomas Jefferson, fromNotes on the State of Virginia•“Comparing them by their faculties of memory theyare equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as Ithink once could scarcely be found capable of tracingand comprehending the investigations of Euclid; andthat in imagination they are dull, tasteless, andanomalous. [. . .] But never yet could I find that a blackhad uttered a thought above the level of plainnarration: never see even an elementary trait ofpainting or sculpture. [. . .] Misery is often the parent ofthe most affecting touches in poetry.—Among theblacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry.[. . .] Religion indeed has produced a Phyllis Whateley[sic.]; but it could not produce a poet. Thecompositions published under her name are below thedignity of criticism. The heroes of the Dunciad are toher, as Hercules to the author of that poem.”
  5. 5. Slave Narratives• were the dominant genre of writings by African Americans during and after the Civil War• reached from a few pages in length to large, independently published volumes (e.g. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs)• first known American slave narrative, A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man (1760)
  6. 6. • Most narratives from the late eighteenth century decry the slavery of sin much more than the sin of slavery• with the rise of the militant *antislavery movement in the early nineteenth century came a new demand for slave narratives that would highlight the harsh realities of slavery itself
  7. 7. • abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison were convinced that the eyewitness testimony of former slaves against slavery would touch the hearts and change the minds of many in the northern population of the United States who were either ignorant of or indifferent to the plight of African Americans in the South• by mid 19th century developed a standardized form of autobiography in which personal memory and a rhetorical attack on slavery blend to produce a powerful expressive tool both as literature and as propaganda
  8. 8. • Influence on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin• Most well-known and most successful: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (1845)• Selling more than thirty thousand copies in the first five years• Garrison’s preface: focusing on representativeness of Douglass experience, but also acknowledging his individuality