Focusing on slave narratives from the Atlantic world of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this interdisciplinary collection of essays suggests the importance—even the necessity—of looking beyond the iconic and ubiquitous works of Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs. In granting sustained critical attention to writers such as Briton Hammon, Omar Ibn Said, Juan Francisco Manzano, Nat Turner, and Venture Smith, among others, this book makes a crucial contribution not only to scholarship on the slave narrative but also to our understanding of early African American and Black Atlantic literature.
The essays explore the social and cultural contexts, the aesthetic and rhetorical techniques, and the political and ideological features of these noncanonical texts. By concentrating on earlier slave narratives not only from the United States but from the Caribbean, South America, and Latin America as well, the volume highlights the inherent transnationality of the genre, illuminating its complex cultural origins and global circulation.
This volume of essays presses national, linguistic, and religious boundaries to critically engage early autobiographical writings recounting slave experiences and movements. It puts English-speaking and Protestant discourse into conversation with Hispanophone and Arabic-African texts, while simultaneously broadening our sense of what qualifies as a ‘slave narrative.’
Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas is a timely reassessment of a genre that not only testifies to experiences of bondage and flight, to the potential acquisitions of freedom and franchise; it is a genre that, if interpreted expansively, is stylistically diverse, thematically rich, and remarkably transnational in its narration of New World African agency and thought prior to the 1845 rise of Frederick Douglass. This book admirably attends to ‘the global nature and circulation of the slave narrative’ across the US South as well as the Caribbean, South America, and Latin America—a broad scope especially distinctive and innovative in slave narrative studies today.
Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas is... an exciting collection because of the light it sheds on the transnational experiences of African-descended slaves and on the literary agency of understudied black authors.