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Part II - National Transitions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 May 2021

Benjamin Fagan
Affiliation:
Auburn University, Alabama
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Summary

The three chapters in this part focus on how African American writers engage with national legislation or policy. Emahunn Raheem Ali Campbell explores the interplay between the genre of the slave narrative and Supreme Court cases concerning copyright and fugitivity decided in the 1830s and 1840s. Looking in particular at the 1838 Narrative of James Williams, a work quickly challenged for its veracity, Campbell reveals important connections between literary works and legal decisions. Nihad M. Farooq moves from the courthouse to the post office as she interrogates the multiple and nuanced ways in which Harriet Jacobs engaged with developing communications technologies and policies ostensibly designed to connect different sections of the nation to one another. Reading Jacobs’s experiences in the 1830s in relation to an ongoing communications revolution in the United States, Farooq shows how Jacobs ingeniously manipulates formal and informal networks in order to secure freedom for herself and her family. With a focus on national legislation, Susanna Ashton reveals the profound impact that the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act had on the slave narrative by comparing narratives from the same author published before and after the passage of the act. Consulting pre- and post-1850 narratives by Henry Box Brown, William Grimes, and Josiah Henson, Ashton illuminates key ways in which the Fugitive Slave Act shaped one of the premier genres of African American literature.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • National Transitions
  • Edited by Benjamin Fagan, Auburn University, Alabama
  • Book: African American Literature in Transition, 1830–1850
  • Online publication: 07 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108386067.009
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  • National Transitions
  • Edited by Benjamin Fagan, Auburn University, Alabama
  • Book: African American Literature in Transition, 1830–1850
  • Online publication: 07 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108386067.009
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • National Transitions
  • Edited by Benjamin Fagan, Auburn University, Alabama
  • Book: African American Literature in Transition, 1830–1850
  • Online publication: 07 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108386067.009
Available formats
×