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The Cambridge Companion to Slavery in American Literature
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  • Edited by Ezra Tawil, University of Rochester, New York
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The Cambridge Companion to Slavery in American Literature brings together leading scholars to examine the significance of slavery in American literature from the eighteenth century to the present day. In addition to stressing how central slavery has been to the study of American culture, this Companion provides students with a broad introduction to an impressive range of authors including Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Toni Morrison. Accessible to students and academics alike, this Companion surveys the critical landscape of a major field and lays the foundations for future studies.


'In putting together the collection, Tawil aims for the unification of the aesthetic and historical, and in many ways he succeeds. … this collection is diverse in outlook and worthy of consideration.'

A. S. Newson-Horst Source: Choice

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  • 1 - Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century Literary Imagination
    pp 16-31

The aim here is to gather a select list of scholarly works focusing on the relationship between slavery and literary form. Given the breadth of literary topics and historical periods covered by the chapters, readers should consult the notes to each chapter for the full range of primary and secondary works cited.

Abruzzo, Margaret. Polemical Pain: Slavery, Cruelty, and the Rise of Humanitarianism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
Ahern, Stephen, ed. Affect and Abolition in the Anglo-Atlantic, 1770–1830. Farnham: Ashgate, 2013.
Andrews, William L.The Novelization of Voice in Early African American Fiction.” PMLA 105, no. 1 (1990): 2334.
Andrews, William L. To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760–1865. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986.
Andrews, William L., Foster, Frances Smith, and Harris, Trudier, eds. The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Armstrong, Tim. The Logic of Slavery: Debt, Technology and Pain in American Literature Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Bell, Bernard W. The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.
Bernier, Celeste-Marie. Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012.
Boulkos, George. The Grateful Slave: The Emergence of Race in Eighteenth-Century British and American Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Brooks, Joanna. American Lazarus: Religion and the Rise of African-American and Native American Literatures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Brooks, Joanna. “The Early American Public Sphere and the Emergence of a Black Print Counterpublic.The William and Mary Quarterly 62, no. 1 (January 2005): 7886.
Bruce, Dickson D. Jr. Black American Writing from the Nadir: The Evolution of a Literary Tradition, 1877–1915. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.
Bruce, Dickson D. Jr. The Origins of African American Literature, 1680–1865. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001.
Byerman, Keith. Fingering the Jagged Grain: Tradition and Form in Recent Black Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985.
Campbell, Jane. Mythic Black Fiction: The Transformation of History. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986.
Carby, Hazel V. Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Carey, Brycchan. British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility: Writing, Sentiment, and Slavery, 1760–1807. New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2005.
Casmier-Paz, Lynn A.Footprints of the Fugitive: Slave Narrative Discourse and the Trace of Autobiography.Biography 24, no. 1 (2001): 215–25.
Castronovo, Russ. “Epistolary Propaganda: Forgery and Revolution in the Atlantic World,boundary 2 38, no. 3 (2011): 126.
Cavitch, Max. “Slavery and its Metrics.” In The Cambridge Companion to Nineteenth-Century American Poetry, edited by Larson, Kerry, 94112. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Cohen, Lara Langer and Stein, Jordan Alexander, eds. Early African American Print Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.
Cohen, Michael. “Paul Laurence Dunbar and the Genres of Dialect.African American Review 41, no. 2 (2007): 247–57.
Coleman, James W. Blackness and Modernism: The Literary Career of John Edgar Wideman. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989.
Conner, Marc. The Aesthetics of Toni Morrison: Speaking the Unspeakable. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000.
Connolly, Paula T. Slavery in American Children’s Literature, 1790–2010. University of Iowa Press, 2013.
Cruz, Jon. Culture on the Margins: The Black Spiritual and the Rise of American Cultural Interpretation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.
Diedrich, Maria, and Sollors, Werner, eds. The Black Columbiad: Defining Moments in African American Literature and Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.
Dillon, Elizabeth Maddock. “Slaves in Algiers: Race, Republican Genealogies, and the Global Stage.American Literary History 16, no. 3 (2004): 407436.
Dorsey, Peter A.Becoming the Other: The Mimesis of Metaphor in Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom.PMLA 111, no. 3 (1996): 435–50.
Doyle, Laura. Freedom’s Empire: Race and the Rise of the Novel in Atlantic Modernity, 1640–1940. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2008.
DuCille, Ann. The Coupling Convention: Sex, Text, and Tradition in Black Women’s Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Dussere, Erik. Balancing the Books: Faulkner, Morrison, and the Economies of Slavery. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Ernest, John. Resistance and Reformation in Nineteenth-Century African-American Literature: Brown, Wilson, Jacobs, Delany, Douglass, and Harper. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1995.
Fisch, Audrey, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the African American Slave Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Foster, Frances Smith. Witnessing Slavery: The Development of Antebellum Slave Narratives. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.
Elam, Harry J. Jr.The Device of Race: An Introduction.” In African American Performance and Theater History: A Critical Reader, edited by Elam, Harry J. Jr. and Krasner, David, 316. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Epstein, Dena J. Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003.
Gates, Henry Louis Jr.What is an African American Classic?”, General Editor’s Introduction to Twelve Years a Slave, by Northup, Solomon. New York: Penguin, 2012.
Gates, Henry Louis Jr., and Robbins, Hollis, eds. In Search of Hannah Crafts: Critical Essays on The Bondwoman’s Narrative. New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004.
Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge.: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Gilroy, Paul. “There Ain’t No Black In the Union Jack”: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation. London: Routledge, 1992.
Goddu, Teresa. “The Slave Narrative as Material Text.” In The Oxford Handbook of the African-American Slave Narrative, edited by Ernest, John, 149164. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Goddu, Teresa. “‘To Thrill the Land with Horror’: Antislavery Discourse and the Gothic Imagination.” In Gothic Topographies: Language, Nation Building and “Race,” edited by Mehtonen, P.M. and Savolainen, Matti, 7385. Farnham: Ashgate, 2013.
Gould, Philip. Barbaric Traffic: Commerce and Authority in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.
Graham, Maryemma, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Graham, Maryemma, and Ward, Jerry R., eds. The Cambridge History of African American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Grossman, Jay. “‘A’ Is for Abolition?: Race, Authorship, The Scarlet Letter.Textual Practice 7, no. 1 (1993): 1330.
Hack, Daniel. “Wild Charges: The Afro-Haitian ‘Charge of the Light Brigade.’Victorian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Social, Political, and Cultural Studies 54, no. 2 (Winter 2012): 199225.
Handley, George. Postslavery Literatures in the Americas: Family Portraits in Black and White. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000.
Hartman, Saidiya. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Jaher, Diana. “The Paradoxes of Slavery in Thomas Southerne’s Oroonoko.Comparative Drama 42, no. 1 (2008): 5171.
Jenson, Deborah. Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011.
Jones, LeRoi (Baraka, Amiri). Blues People: Negro Music in White America. New York: Harper Perennial, 2002).
Jordan-Lake, Joy. Whitewashing Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Nineteenth-Century Women Novelists Respond to Stowe. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005.
Keizer, Arlene B. Black Subjects: Identity Formation in the Contemporary Narrative of Slavery. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004.
Lee, Debbie. Slavery and the Romantic Imagination. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.
Lee, Maurice S. Slavery, Philosophy, and American Literature, 1830–1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2005.
Levecq, Christine. Slavery and Sentiment: The Politics of Feeling in Black Antislavery Writing, 1770–1850. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2008.
Levine, Lawrence W. Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Levine, Robert S. Dislocating Race and Nation: Episodes in Nineteenth-Century American Literary Nationalism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.
Levine, Robert S. Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the Politics of Representative Identity. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
Li, Stephanie. Something Akin to Freedom: The Choice of Bondage in Narratives by African American Women. Albany: SUNY P, 2010.
Lott, Eric. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Mackey, Nathaniel. Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
M’Baye, Babacar. The Trickster Comes West: Pan African Influence in Early Black Diasporan Narratives. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009.
McDowell, Deborah E. and Rampersad, Arnold, eds. Slavery and the Literary Imagination: Selected Papers from the English Institute, 1987. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.
McGuire, Ian. “‘Who ain’t a slave?’: Moby-Dick and the Ideology of Free Labor.Journal of American Studies 37, no. 2 (2003): 287305.
McInnis, Maurie D. Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Meer, Sarah. “Sentimentality and the Slave Narrative: Frederick Douglass’ My Bondage and My Freedom.” In The Uses of Autobiography, edited by Swindells, Julia, 8997. London: Taylor & Francis, 1995.
Meer, Sarah. Uncle Tom Mania: Slavery, Minstrelsy, and Transatlantic Culture in the 1850s. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005.
Miller, Christopher L. The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.
Mitchell, Loften. Black Drama: The Story of the American Negro in the Theatre. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1967.
Montesinos Sale, Maggie. The Slumbering Volcano: American Slave Ship Revolts and the Production of Rebellious Masculinity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997.
Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. New York: Vintage, 1993.
Nelson, Dana. The Word in Black and White: Reading “Race” in American Literature, 1638–1867. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Nathans, Heather S. Slavery and Sentiment on the American Stage, 1787–1861: Lifting the Veil of Black. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Nicholls, David G. Conjuring the Folk: Forms of Modernity in African America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.
Olney, James. “‘I Was Born’: Slave Narratives, Their Status as Autobiography and as Literature.” In The Slave’s Narrative, edited by Davis, Charles T. and Gates, Henry Louis Jr., 148–74. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Otten, Terry. “Transfiguring the Narrative: Beloved – From Melodrama to Tragedy.” In Critical Essays on Toni Morrison’s Beloved, edited by Solomon, Barbara H., 284–99. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.
Peretti, Burton W.Signifying Freedom: Protest in Nineteenth-Century African American Music.” In The Routledge History of Social Protest in Popular Music, edited by Friedman, Jonathan C., 318. New York: Routledge, 2013.
Plasa, Carl, and Ring, Betty J., eds. The Discourse of Slavery: Aphra Behn to Toni Morrison. London and New York: Routledge, 1994.
Reid-Pharr, Robert F. Conjugal Union: The Body, the House and the Black American. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Roach, Joseph. Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.
Rowe, John Carlos.Poe, Antebellum Slavery, and Modern Criticism” In Poe’s Pym: Critical Explorations, edited by Kopley, Richard, 117–40. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992.
Rushdy, Ashraf H. A. Neo-slave Narratives: Studies in the Social Logic of a Literary Form. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Rushdy, Ashraf H. A. Remembering Generations: Race and Family in Contemporary African American Fiction. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
Ryan, Tim A. Calls and Responses: The American Novel of Slavery Since Gone with the Wind. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008.
Sánchez-Eppler, Karen. “Bodily Bonds: The Intersecting Rhetorics of Feminism and Abolition.Representations 24, no. 1 (1988): 2859.
Sharpe, Christina Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.
Shockley, Evie. “Going Overboard: African American Poetic Innovation and the Middle Passage.Contemporary Literature 52, no. 4 (2011): 791817.
Smith, Sidonie. “Performativity, Autobiographical Practice, Resistance.A/B: Auto/Biography Studies 10, no. 1 (1995): 1733.
Smith, Valerie. Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.
Spaulding, A. Timothy. Re-Forming the Past: History, the Fantastic, and the Postmodern Slave Narrative. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2005.
Starling, Marion Wilson. The Slave Narrative: Its Place in American History. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981.
Steinberg, Marc: “Inverting History in Octavia Butler’s Postmodern Slave Narrative.African American Review 38, no. 3 (2004): 467–76.
Stepto, Robert B. From Behind the Veil: A Study of Afro-American Narrative. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979.
Stone, Albert E. The Return of Nat Turner: History, Literature and Cultural Politics in Sixties America. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1992.
Sundquist, Eric J. Empire and Slavery in American Literature, 1820–1865. University Press of Mississippi, 2006.
Sundquist, Eric J. To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Sussman, Charlotte. Consuming Anxieties: Consumer Protest, Gender, and British Slavery, 1713–1833. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.
Swaminathan, Srividhya and Beach, Adam, eds. Invoking Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century British Imagination: Literature, Politics and Culture. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2013.
Tate, Claudia. Domestic Allegories of Political Desire: The Black Heroine’s Text at the Turn of the Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Tawil, Ezra. The Making of Racial Sentiment: Slavery and the Birth of the Frontier Romance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Thurman, Howard Deep River: The Negro Spirituals Speaks of Life and Death. Richmond: Friends United P: 1990.
Van Deburg, William L. Slavery And Race In American Popular Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.
Waters, Hazel. Racism on the Victorian Stage: Representation of Slavery and the Black Character. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
White, Shane and White, Graham. The Sounds of Slavery: Discovering African American History Through Songs, Sermons, and Speech. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.
Williams, Adebayo. “Of Human Bondage and Literary Triumphs: Hannah Crafts and the Morphology of the Slave Narrative.Research in African Literatures 34, no. 1 (2003): 137–50.
Wilson, Ivy G.On Native Ground: Transnationalism, Frederick Douglass, and ‘The Heroic Slave.’PMLA 121, no. 2 (March 2006): 453–68.
Winter, Kari Joy. Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women and Power in Gothic Novels and Slave Narratives, 1790–1865. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1992.
Wood, Marcus. Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America. New York: Routledge, 2000.
Wood, Marcus. The Horrible Gift of Freedom: Atlantic Slavery and the Representation of Emancipation. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010.
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