Abstract and Keywords
This essay argues that black literary production during the nineteenth century was articulated under complex discursive conditions. This discursive terrain provides a meaningful way to engage the complexity of the condition of the slave, a condition that continues to inform African American testimony to this very day. This essay maps the rhetorical markers constituting the terrain of abolitionist discourse—focusing on religion and corporeality—and charts the discursive milieu within which African American slave narratives have been read. Recasting the abolition debate as a discourse broadens our considerations of texts as “public” documents; that is, texts that were distributed to a wide population of discursive readers through a mixture of oral and written literacy. Placing these narratives within their larger context provides a fuller picture of the irksome overdeterminacies of abolitionism, Romanticism, and the emergence of a distinctive American literature and nationalism within which they were produced and first received.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.