Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Slavery and Narration

ENGL 281.401
also offered as: AFRC 281
MW 3:30-5

This course will explore narrative forms produced in response to the Atlantic slave trade and American slavery. Spanning the late eighteenth century to the present, our reading will consist of fugitive slave narratives, poems, autobiographies, novels, short fiction, and histories. We will pay special attention to how these texts use the techniques and conventions of narration to tell the story of slavery, and how they simultaneously reinvent preexisting genres and traditions. We will also consider how these authors treat interlocking themes—such as literacy, sentiment, social status and power, sexuality, identity, and agency—and the various freedoms against which they contrast slavery. To provide a context for these narratives, we will look to legal texts, anti & pro slavery polemics, and critical accounts. Authors may include Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Craft, Harriet Jacobs, Charles Chesnutt, Toni Morrison, and Lorene Cary. You will be required to write three short essays and to actively participate in discussions on the web and in class 

fulfills requirements