Slave Narratives

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African American literary historians such as Arna Bontemps and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., have identified the slave narrative as an original genre of American literature whose form has greatly influenced African American autobiography and fiction. Twentieth century autobiographies by Richard Wright, Malcolm X, and others adapt the structure of the slave narrative to twentieth century African American life. Novels such as Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada (1976), Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), and Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage (1990) re-create slaves’ narratives in fictional form.


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Suggested Readings

Davis, Charles T., and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds. The Slave’s Narrative. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Foster, Frances Smith. Witnessing Slavery: The Development of Ante-Bellum Slave Narratives. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Introduction to The Classic Slave Narratives. New York: New American Library, 1987.

Sekora, John, and Darwin T. Turner, eds. The Art of the Slave Narrative. Macomb: Western Illinois University Press, 1982.

Starling, Marion Wilson. The Slave Narrative: Its Place in American History. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982.

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