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The figure of the grateful slave, devoted to his or her master in thanks for kind treatment, is ubiquitous in eighteenth-century writing from Daniel Defoe's Colonel Jack (1722) to Maria Edgeworth's 'The Grateful Negro' (1804). Yet this important trope, linked with discourses that tried to justify racial oppression, slavery and colonialism, has been overlooked in eighteenth-century literary research. Challenging previous accounts of the relationship between sentiment and slavery, in this book George Boulukos shows how the image of the grateful slave contributed to colonial practices of white supremacy in the later eighteenth century. Seemingly sympathetic to slaves, the trope actually undermines their cause and denies their humanity by showing African slaves as willingly accepting their condition. Taking in literary sources as well as texts on colonialism and slavery, Boulukos offers a fresh account of the development of racial difference, and of its transatlantic dissemination, in the eighteenth-century English-speaking world.Read more
- Redefines the emergence of ideas of race in the eighteenth century
- Uncovers important sources for the study of slavery and race in the British Atlantic world
- Challenges accepted views of sentimental discourses on slavery
Reviews & endorsements
"The Grateful Slave is of considerable value to scholars of the literature of slavery, offering fascinating readings of key texts such as Equiano’s narrative as well as lesser known novels and travel literature. The bibliography is quite extensive, particularly in secondary sources, and this book would serve as an excellent starting point for students doing research on this topic."
- Christopher N. Phillips, Lafayette College, Early American Literature, 2009See more reviews
"Indeed, the compendiousness and scholarship of The Grateful Slave, as well as what I would call its ethical commitment to historicizing race and racism, have laid the ground for further investigations"
-Sara Salih, University of Toronto
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- Date Published: January 2012
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521188661
- length: 290 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.43kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. The prehistory of the grateful slave
2. The origin of the grateful slave: Daniel Defoe's Col. Jack, 1722
3. The evolution of the grateful slave 1754–77: the emergence of racial difference in the slavery debate and the novel
4. The 1780s: transition
5. Gratitude in the Black Atlantic: Equiano writes back, 1789
6. The 1790s: ameliorationist convergence
Epilogue: grateful slaves, faithful slaves, mammies and martyrs: the Transatlantic afterlife of the grateful slave
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