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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Brian Bass...

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Brian Bass Professor Habershaw Expository Writing 10.20.03 Jacobs, Pratt and the “Contact Zone” In “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” by Harriet Jacobs, the author’s tone and voice proves to challenge the acceptance of slavery during the 19 th century. Jacobs, who is writing within a “contact zone” tries to make a connection to both societies in this story. According to Mary Louise Pratt a contact zone is: social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today (Pratt 607). Therefore a contact zone is a social space where two cultures collide, where both have the potential to benefit from each other. Jacobs, born a slave, is writing to an audience of white people about the life of a slave. Being an activist at the time of slavery, she tries to depict the life of a slave in the most realistic sense. Despite the differences to Pratt’s work, writing within the context of a contact zone, Jacobs displays a powerful piece of literature. If both Pratt and Jacobs are accurate in their depiction of contact zones, then why does it matter at all what kind of contact zone is being used in a piece of writing? Obviously Jacobs wasn’t alive when the term “contact zone” was coined but does incorporating a contact zone into her work change how we are 1
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to approach or comprehend Jacobs? Anywhere in the world, especially in the United Sates, there are fusions and collisions of different cultures; so ultimately, there is a contact zone everywhere. In the mindset that Jacobs’s contact zone exits, her work could be viewed differently. It perhaps, be given a more sociological standpoint than before.
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