What type of literay theory can be applied to analyse The Narrative of Sojourner Truth?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that a feminist form of literary criticism might be helpful in illuminating points of strength in Painter's portrait of Truth.  Certainly, one of the most interesting aspects of Truth's life is that her work and being can be examined from different lenses.  Each lens can operate as a form of literary criticism.  The feminist literary theory is one such lens, as Truth does not shy away from being seen as a strong woman at a time when this narrative is dissuaded.  At the same time, a post-colonial frame of reference can be used to examine Painter's work.  Truth is such a compelling figure because as a woman of color, she is an active participant in the abolitionist struggle, the purest form of the the voice of "the other."  Truth is seeking to give voice to the "cultural other" in a society dominated by the normative voice of White America in the face of slavery.  Being able to apply the post-colonial frame of reference enables one to understand the conditions of race and ethnicity at a point in American History where this lens first emerged on a national level.  I think that being able to examine Painter's work through both the post-colonial and feminist valences of literary theory or literary criticism can shed greater comprehension regarding both the work and its subject matter.

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