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On a Word document, write a paragraph on ALL TEN TERMS BELOW making sure to 1) define and explain, and 2) provide an example from the primary text reading to illustrate your understanding. Primary text means the words BY the author we studied (Morrison, for example), not the reading we did ABOUT Morrison. Upload your completed document by the deadline stated above.

You should use your book (the Norton Anthology) and materials I put on Moodle to help you answer the questions. Your answers should be informed by the reading we have done this semester (listed on syllabus and on Moodle), NOT from outside/online resources. IF YOU USE ANY OUTSIDE/ONLINE SOURCES TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS (AND REMEMBER THAT THESE ARE VERY EASY FOR ME TO LOCATE SINCE YOU ARE TURNING THIS IN THROUGH “TURN IT IN”), YOU WILL FAIL THE EXAM. 

Follow these guidelines:

Number your responses and state the term you’re responding to.

Write at least five complete sentences for each one.

You must use a short direct quotation from the primary text you’re using as an example (this means from the literature we read, not the background information we read about the literature). This should be introduced (author and text) and documented correctly: For example, in The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois writes, “The problem of the color line…” (3479). 

If you use a direct quotation from the book to define the terms, then you must document this, too.

Do NOT use the same text OR author more than once. There are usually multiple correct examples to choose from for each. 

Here’s an example of the format: 

1. Vanishing Indian Myth

TERM: the “myth of the vanishing Indian” is an untrue belief that exists in American that all “real” Native Americans are dead now. It’s an important myth to America politically especially during the 19th century because US expansion policies needed Indians to be gone. 

TEXT: Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans

EXPLANATION: Cooper establishes this myth by romanticizing American Indian identity as both exotic and vanished. The figure of Uncas is a good example of this myth because he seems to be doomed to vanish by the end of the narrative when he says to Natty Bumppo “we are the last of our kind” (342). Even though it was not true – Native Americans are not vanished – this myth is an important one to understand in the text and in general, since it helps us understand the politics and racism in American at that time and now. Use these:

Puritans: From William Bradford

Pilgrims: From Anne Bradstreet

Captivity Narrative: 

James the farmer

Slave Narrative



Harlem Renaissance



Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography and From the State of Virginia. Read Sally Hemmings…The life of Hemmings. Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Read slave narrative, Frederick Douglass Narrative of the Life. 

Slave Narratives

This is an important genre that begins in the 18th century with writers like Equiano who detail the Middle Passage from African to the Americas or Great Britain. Narratives like Douglass’s and Jacobs’s show their escape from slavery in the United States, and Stowe shows from a white writer’s perspective the injustice and cruelty of slavery within the ideology of Christianity. Interestingly, contemporary writers like Ishmael Reed and Toni Morrison revive this genre to tell and retell the experience of slavery for African Americans from a postmodern perspective.

Characteristics of this genre are:

1. They are inherently anti-slavery. This may sound obvious, but my point is that they are political texts written to cause and contribute to the abolition of slavery. Authors do this various ways, namely by demonstrating the cruelty and inhumanity of the institution.

2. The protagonist moves from slavery to freedom. Again, this may sound like an obvious thing to note, but most authors complicate this transition by addressing not just physical freedom, but also the spiritual, intellectual or metaphysical freedom that protagonists seek and find. It’s important to note that this dynamic process is a central part of these narratives as literature. They are crafted so that when protagonists become free (physically, spiritually, etc.), they are fundamentally changed.

3.  Slave Narratives also use Christianity as a narrative tool to do several things: appeal to Christian audiences (Jacobs and Stowe appeal specifically to white Christian women), emphasize the spiritual emancipation that often accompanies physical freedom or enslavement, and finally to show that religious education can be politically beneficial to the abolitionist movement. Christian ideology, rhetoric, and textual reference helps abolitionists make their case to Christians.

4. The education and literacy of the protagonist is also important. This is sometimes related to religion, because many slaves were taught to read in churches or church meetings. As Douglass illustrates, knowing how to read and write threatened the institution of slavery because a) slaves could learn about abolition and slaver revolts, b) it humanized the slaves in the eyes of some slave holders, and c) it shifted their perspectives of themselves and their ability and identity.

The Prefaces of slave narratives are also important to note. They follow in the tradition of other prefaces, “editorial assistance,” and statements that legitimize authors of color and women writers: Lydia Maria Child’s statement on Harriet Jacobs, Increase Mather’s (assumed author) note on Anne Bradstreet, John Hancock and Cotton Mather’s (et. al.) attestation of Phillis Wheatley, William Dean Howell’s preface to Paul Dunbar. This is another generic convention that speaks to assumptions about race and biology/ability that existed during these time periods. In that case of Garrison and Douglass, the Preface also shows Garrison’s desire to direct and control the abolitionist movement and its texts.

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