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Douglass_I - I Historical Context of Slave Narratives I...

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Unformatted text preview: I. Historical Context of Slave Narratives I. Historical Context of Slave Narratives Early 1700s first slave narratives appear 1830­1865 height of popularity in U.S. 1833 American Anti­Slavery Society born 1841 Douglass makes first speech on Nantucket 1845 Douglass’ Narrative published I shall never forget his first speech…the I shall never forget his first speech…the extraordinary emotion it excited in my own mind —the powerful impression it created upon a crowded auditory, completely taken by surprise —the applause which followed from the beginning to the end of his felicitous remarks. I think I never hated slavery so intensely as at that moment…There stood one, in physical proportion and stature commanding and exact— in intellect richly endowed—in natural eloquence a prodigy—in soul manifestly “created but a little lower than the angels”—yet a slave, ay, a fugitive slave.... William Lloyd Garrison, Preface II. Establishing Personhood, II. Establishing Personhood, Authenticity Frontispiece, 1845 Frontispiece, 1845 Characteristics of Slave Narrative Characteristics of Slave Narrative Multiple authenticating documents (letters from abolitionists, testimonials, photographs, appendices) Graphic depictions of violence and implication of sexual violence Repeated reference to writer’s attainment of literacy Careful use of irony to undermine pro­slavery argument Withholding of key personal details, such as author’s escape route Reference to author’s re­naming of him/herself Mr. Auld found out what was going on, and Mr. Auld found out what was going on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, telling her, among other things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read. To use his own words, “If you give a nigger an inch, he’ll take an ell….if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him….” These words sank deep into my heart…From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom. (48) III. Slave Bodies as Texts, III. Slave Bodies as Texts, Spectacles Before he commenced whipping Aunt Hester, he Before he commenced whipping Aunt Hester, he took her into the kitchen, and stripped her from neck to waist, leaving her neck, shoulders, and back, entirely naked. He then told her to cross her hands, calling her at the same time a d—d b­­­h. After crossing her hands, he tied them with a strong rope, and led her to a stool under a large hook in the joist, put in for the purpose. She now stood fair for his infernal purpose. He made her get upon the stool, and tied her hands to the length, so that she stood upon the ends of her toes. He then said to her, “Now, you d—d b­­­h, I’ll learn you how to disobey my orders!” (24) Slave Body as Text Slave Body as Text The slave body bears witness to violence, tells a story of violence Slaves objectified (as bodies deprived of personhood) in broadsides, at slave auctions, and in other everyday forums Dangers/benefits for slave authors of using scenes of physical subjection to convey the horrors of slavery ...
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