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Law, Property, Bodies

ENGL 253.401

The 1850s: An exploration of the creative writing that took up issues of ownership and property especially related to slavery in the 1850s, a landmark period in the legal formation of racial identities, in the juridical conception of “raced” rights, and in the literary production of racial narratives by writers of both African and European descent in the United States.  Authors selected from Frederick Douglass (“The Heroic Slave”), Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), William Wells Brown (Clotel), Martin Delany (Blake), Harriet Wilson (Our Nig), Harriet Jacobs (Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl), Henry Box Brown (Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown), Herman Melville (“Benito Cereno”), James Whitfield (America and Other Poems, and Frances Watkins Harper (Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects).  Readings will include legal cases (e.g., Somerset v. Stewart; The Slave, Grace; Scott v. Sandford), slave ship revolts (i.e., The Amistad and The Creole) and federal acts (e.g., “The Compromise of 1850"; “The Fugitive Slave Act 1850").
A short paper, a midterm examination, and a final paper or project will be required.

fulfills requirements
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major