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Bibliothèque en ligne

mercredi 10 décembre 2014 / Catégories: Langues, Anglais

Reclaiming one’s own voice and identity – the African American slave narrative and its evolution

Carole Sylvie Lahure

This dissertation will retrace the origins of the slave narratives, the first literary attempts of African American slaves to deal with the issue at hand, and its authors’ struggle to establish a voice and identity for themselves. In this part of the dissertation, Olaudah Equiano’s work entitled The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789), Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) and Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the life of a slave girl (1861) will be analysed, with regard to the retrieval of voice and identity. In the second part the evolution of the slave narrative will be outlined, starting with the slave fiction, which is the subsequent step from the narratives, by looking at Frederick Douglass’ The Heroic Slave (1853), William Wells Brown’s Clotel (1853) and Harriet E. Wilson’s Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859). Following this, a closer look will be shed upon the literary and ethical clash depicted in Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery (1902) and W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Finally, Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) and Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) will be used as examples of how slavery still has an impact on modern novels. These works will be viewed from different perspectives, by considering them as products influenced by race, gender and ethnicity, as well as connecting them to technologies of the self. This will be done in order to retrace the evolution, which has taken place from the publication of the slave narrativesto modern works of African American fiction.

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