F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

Thinking about a Class centered around genres within narratives of slavery

Reading Obi, a text and genre I am mostly unfamiliar with, led me to think of structuring a class around the genres contained within the larger genre of Narratives of Slavery. I say Narratives of Slavery rather than Slave Narrative because texts like Obi do not fit the mold of a slave narrative - it has a white author, is historical fiction, and does not have the typical tropes of a slave narrative (the white editor, "I was born," set up, and other genre conventions). This led me to ask where this text fits and I began to think of how multiple narratives of slavery can paint a picture of the perception of slavery and anti-slavery sentiment - no matter how dubious the outcome might be. My first thought would be to split the texts by era and sub-genre, while expanding the typical definition of what we consider a narrative around slavery. For exampleOf course, I am sure I am missing other examples of sub-genres. However, my overall question would seek to catalog the subjective around perceptions of slavery, since many of these narratives might not give us, or even seek to give us, so-called objectivity or plain historical record. For now, I am considering the genre conventions around Obi, especially the Broadview version which was padded with intertextual historical records and footnotes - including a footnote on plantains that extended over a full page. The critical text leads us to question more of what was added and why in addition to what it adds to the understanding of the text. Within the text itself, we must question the use of letters, the characterization of the white characters such as William and Harriet, the reliance on the Noble Savage stereotype, the limitations and conventions of the romantic adventure story and so on. 

I imagine this as a class, syllabus, or larger resource for students, especially undergrads, on the basics of genre convention, audience, and purpose in narratives around slavery.

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