In this Independent Study, I examine Harriet Jacobs’s slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (2001), and various examples of what I call non-fictional neo-slave narratives taken from 2014-2016 editions of The Huffington Post, and Black Millennials. For the purposes of this project, I define neo-slave narratives as any fiction or non-fiction work written after slavery that tells of an experience that is a result of the lingering oppressions of slavery that effect people of African descent. The term was coined by Ishmael Reed, for fictional works only, in his text A Flight to Canada (1976). In other words, here I consider a 19th century Black women’s slave narrative alongside 21st century Black women’s true stories from online media sources, stories that I believe could also be considered neo-slave narratives. After doing close readings of Jacobs’s text and then creating my own two journal entry-type responses to related articles found in different online media outlets, I also argue that Black girls in the Brooklyn middle schools in which I’ll soon teach, need to be exposed to a curriculum rich in both older and new Black women’s literature and history.
My conscious effort to diversify my curriculum in terms of race and time period is important because I’ve found that it is impossible to fully understand scholar Kimberle Crenshaw’s “intersectionality” (or, what it means to be both Black and a woman) in contemporary society without studying both historical and contemporary texts. The selected online articles reveal various methods of resistance seen in the Black community today that mirror those used by slave women like Jacobs. Black women in American society, then, endlessly fight for their humanity, come to terms with their identities, and learn how their gender and race mix, so as not to be compromised by the constructed hierarchy that maintains white supremacy. Part One of this Independent Study includes my analysis of Jacobs’s text. I analyze different themes of Black womanhood in today’s society that were prevalent during the slave society as well. I expand upon the themes in these new and old narratives by utilizing Black feminist thought. Within Part Two of the I.S., I share my original two lesson plans and discuss the importance of a middle school curriculum that is inclusive of historical and contemporary texts about and authored by Black women. To support my teaching claims, I relied upon the work of bell hooks and Chandra Mohanty.
Elliott, Christina L., "Giving HerStory A Platform: Why Female Slave and Neo-Slave Narratives Should be Integral Components of Inner City Middle School Curricula" (2017). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 7519.
Arts and Humanities
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2017 Christina L. Elliott