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Writing_1 - HISTORY 05010: WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1 Although...

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HISTORY 05010: WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1 Although the United States is not unique in having been a slave-holding society, it is uncommon for having produced a rich array of documents touching upon the “peculiar institution.” Much of this material was produced directly by ex-slaves, who felt a profound need to testify to the horrors that they had witnessed in slavery. As Henry Louis Gates Jr. has observed, “In the long history of human bondage, it was only the black slaves in the United States who. . . created a genre of literature that at once testified against their captors and bore witness to the urge of every black slave to be free and literate.” We will be reading one of the classics of this self-authored genre, Frederick Douglass's narrative of his life as slave in Maryland, later in the semester. Before that, however, we will turn our attention to the other central collection of documents about slave life: the oral histories of ex-slaves compiled during the 1930's as part of FDR's Works Progress Administration (WPA). While these interviews were often conducted when the ex-slaves were quite elderly, they nonetheless reveal details about slave life and culture that seldom appear elsewhere in the documentary record. Bullwhip Days contains an edited selection of the WPA interviews. (Those interested in consulting the entire body of WPA oral histories are urged to consult George Rawick's multi-volume work, The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography , available in the library.) As you will discover as you read through Bullwhip Days , the interviews, taken verbatim, contain no context or commentary. Your task in this first writing assignment will be to provide these missing components—in other words, to use the raw data found in Bullwhip Days
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Writing_1 - HISTORY 05010: WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1 Although...

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