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19th Century Slave Narratives: When Literacy doesn't necessarily equal Freedom.

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  • Essay length: 3278 words
  • Submitted: 19/06/2006
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University Degree Paper-based media studies

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EXAMINATION NUMBER: 45002

19th Century Slave Narratives: When Literacy doesn't necessarily equal Freedom.

The 19th Century was a difficult time for writers, with the number of writers increasing faster than the market for it (especially towards the end of the century). Several writers of the period (notably Henry James and Walt Whitman) berated the lack of a literary canon, feeling that there wasn't a typically American style of writing, that there was too great an influence from English writers, and promptly set about trying to create this distinctive American literature. They failed to notice, however, that there was already an existing canon of literature, based on true events; a style that stood out from the rest because it was written from the heart and helped to effect change across the country.

The slave narrative was at first an abolitionist tool, a method of trying to show people the cruel nature of slavery, however the genre evolved until it was so much more - spanning the gap between autobiography and creative literature. Indeed, although most narratives follow a similar format, as more tales emerged, it was no longer enough to remain strictly autobiographical - a

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