Harriet Jacob's Slavery Account

| February 3, 2014

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Paper Assignment The antebellum period – the thirty or so years before the Civil War – saw the publication of a number of autobiographies by former slaves. Perhaps the most famous of these slave narratives is by Frederick Douglass. Harriet A. Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl(ISBN: 978-0-451-53146-9) first appeared in 1861 on the eve of the Civil War, and is one of the few written by a woman. Slave narratives helped expose the cruelty of conditions endured by African American slaves in the South and kept the human dimension of the issue before the public as politicians fought over the future of the “peculiar institution.” Southern attempts to explain away the efficacy of slavery for all those involved in it were mocked by the firsthand accounts of those who had escaped bondage. For your paper I want you to discuss Jacob’s account of slavery, paying particular attention to the following issues: • The importance of family to slaves • Who was her audience — that is, to whom was the narrative directed? How does Jacobs appeal to that audience? • The double burden of being a slave and a woman Include in your paper a discussion of these issues, but do not limit yourself to them if you want to broaden the focus. To support and illustrate your argument, it is best to paraphrase passages in the book rather than relying on extensive quotation. I appreciate that sometimes a passage can be so compelling – so perfect as evidence for a point you are trying to make – that it’s irresistible, but try to limit your use of quotations and keep them as brief as possible. Overuse can dramatically dilute their impact. If you quote from the book in your review, include the page number in parentheses after the quotation. Once you’ve finished writing, if at all possible let your paper sit overnight before you return to it. Go over it again carefully, paying special attention to its organization and your prose: remove the awkward grammar, and ensure your punctuation and spelling are correct. Your paper will be much improved by careful attention to these matters. The paper should be at least 5 double-spaced pages – that is, 1500 words – in length. Leave one inch margins on all sides of the paper, and use a standard font size – 10-12 characters per inch. Finally, please remember to include your name and the course title and number on a cover sheet or at the head of the first page
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