lecture notes


narrative > cultural narrative





41.9 domesticity—home of my own



11.23 absence of slaves > wealth

11.28 starting point of new existence, now my own master, such was the strength of prejudice


10B.2 cf. Emerson







How did the authors of the slave narratives make their readers care? (Many if not most of their readers would have been whites, not slaves.) [HJ P3; 3.7, 6.20]



Discussion Question for both texts: How does slavery "dehumanize" both blacks and whites? How may literature teach us what is human?


Discussion Questions for Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl:


1. How surprising is the sexual component of slavery? Why isn't it acknowledged and discussed? What are the impacts of mixed-race births? Their impact on racial identity? What implications for America as a "classless society" that instead organizes itself as separate races?


 [HJ 4, 1.2-3, 1.6, 5.5, 5.11]


1.2 mulattoes, merchandise


1.6 Anglo-Saxon ancestors


10.6 confuses all principles of morality

10.7 different standards


14.11 genealogies of slavery (skeins metaphor)






2. What does Jacobs say about being not just a slave, but a woman slave? Can minority as gender be related or analogous to minority as race, ethnicity, or culture?



5.5 beauty as greatest curse; admiration > degradation


3.7 children torn from her


6.1 [family dynamics disrupted]


Ch. 6 as jealous mistress, but little women’s bonding

6.20 I was touched by her grief; incapable of feeling, not very refined (class difference)


6.29 deadens moral sense in white women




Objective 2a. Gender: Is the status of women, lesbians, and homosexuals analogous to that of ethnic minorities in terms of voice and choice? Do "women of color" become "double minorities?" HJ 5.4 law; 6.20 mistress;



14.6 double minority





Discussion Questions for Kindred:


1. Discuss the use of science fiction / time travel as a literary device for discussing a historical event like slavery.


2. How does understanding slavery as a foundation of American history help understand not just black America but white America?












P3 Uncle Tom’s Cabin 10 years earlier

P3 gothic pit


4 Indecorum

1.2 mulattoes, merchandise

1.3 maternal grandmother, daughter of a planter, freed, returned

1.5 bake crackers at night

1.6 Anglo-Saxon ancestors

1.7 slave, being property, can hold no property (cf. women)

1.12 future . . . what they would do with me

1.13 taught me to read and spell

3.6 happy free women

3.7 children torn from her

5.2 subdue = seduce?

5.3 vile monster, sacred commandments of nature

5.4 no shadow of law

5.5 beauty as greatest curse; admiration > degradation

5.7 silence or death

5.9 [private influence of grandmother; cf. Fuller]

5.11 two beautiful children playing together

6.1 [family dynamics disrupted]

6.3 literacy as trap

Ch. 6 as jealous mistress, but little women’s bonding

6.20 I was touched by her grief; incapable of feeling, not very refined (class difference)

6.22 color of his soul! (color code)

6.22 rejoice to live in town; contrast supposedly romantic plantation

6.23 whispers

6.26 romantic notions of a sunny clime

6.27 children as property, marketable as pigs

6.29 deadens moral sense in white women

7.3 laws no sanction to marriage

7.16 romantic codes of honor

7.20-21 rights?

7.31 marriage no protection

7.32 get to the north

10.6 confuses all principles of morality, different standards

10.7 different standards

14.5 gothic (pit)

14.6 double minority

14.8 no claim to a name

14.11 genealogies of slavery (skeins metaphor)

14.12 chains metaphor

21.1 gothic? Attic

21.4 all must be done in darkness

21.5 verisimilitude x romanticism

41.9 domesticity—home of my own



Octavia E. Butler, Kindred. (1979)

location: eastern shore of MD


Colorblindness as defense against history

Time travel as device for knowing what can’t know otherwise; cf. metaphor?

Writers without schedules to be interfered with




9 lost an arm

Jail, police

11 I don’t know


The River

12 L.A., Altedema


Books, bookcases


13 Kevin > him


Child, boy

Red-haired woman

14 man’s voice, longest rifle

15 never in life panicked, so close to death

16 my facts no crazier than yours

17 [PTSD?


The Fire

19 whatever had happened

Linoleum > wood


21 [father] could shoot me

[South, but assumes same time]

22 I saw you inside a room

24 no ghosts

Somehow my travels crossed time as well as distance

2nd Kings: Elisha beathes into dead boy’s mouth

25 always niggers? Except company

26 long red welts, old marks, ugly scars

Money all he ever thinks about


27 relatives in Maryland


Weylin Plantation . . . Tom Weylin

28 Alice, born free like mother

28 one of my ancestors

Bible, family records


Hagar Weylin b. 1831

29 reason for the link

Insure family’s survival

Look like Alice’s mother

30 don’t talk like slave

31 questions that had no answer

Easton [ZNH?]

32 environment marks him


33 white adjult cf. street violence

34 horsemen

Paperless blacks

36 [brutalized whites]

[senses, mimesis?]

37 patrols > KKK

Punch woman

My relatives, ancestors, refuge

38 bound like me

Surviving, however painfully

39 way North

40 [breeding economy]

Carried you off? >  kidnapped

41 young white man

Teach you manners

42 terror > speed


Squeamishness < another age

44 gone 2-3 minutes . . . seemed longer

45 tote pag

Patroller definition

46 ancestors, Bible, already seen

48 real violence

48 forge papers

49 laws against literacy, passes

50 fear sends home? Rufus’s fear calls

51 ancestors’ survival, strength. Endurance