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date: 29 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Exploring slave narratives written by women, this essay argues that in their narratives enslaved women situate themselves and the women around them at the center of active resistance to slavery and confirm the efficacy of the slave narrative form and black feminism to meaningfully represent themselves and engage in public debates on slavery and racial and gender equality. Focusing particularly on the intimate relationships shared by black women with their white mistresses or employers, the author examines narratives by Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Keckley, and Mattie Jackson as representative narratives that substantiate a black feminist standpoint in which the narrators exhibit critical analyses of their labor such that work and economics are only one measure in a larger system of subjective valuation and personal worth. Moreover, these narratives document relations between black and white women in the urban cultural landscape where their intimate relations reveal complex interracial gendered interdependencies that proved black women’s self-worth in slavery and freedom.

Keywords: black feminism, labor, black women, white women, intimate relationships, self-worth, human dignity, urban space, interracial, gender, slave narratives, slavery, equality, domestic novel, Cult of True Womanhood, Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Keckley, Mattie Ja

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