Narratives of Bondage and Freedom
English 452 Spring 2021 Narratives of Bondage and Freedom
This capstone course will examine a series of narratives written about the experience of Black enslavement and the achievement of freedom written over a two hundred year period. It begins with so-called slave narratives written by formerly enslaved individuals in the nineteenth century who offered first-hand accounts of slavery in order to make a case, among many other things, for recognition of Black humanity and for slavery’s abolition. The course then moves to a series of so-called neo-slave narratives, contemporary fictionalized accounts of enslavement that explore the meaning of both bondage and freedom in the past and for our present, an historical moment in the making that is being shaped by the Black Lives Matter movement. Along the way, we will consider a range of short theoretical writings by Black studies scholars that will inform our understanding of what it means to revisit the 400-year history of Atlantic slavery in the present moment. Over the course of the quarter, students will be expected to produce a series of discussion posts, a short midterm paper, and a slightly longer final paper. Books will be available through the University Bookstore (and readily on-line). Theoretical readings will be posted to the course Canvas site.