William L. Andrews (E. Maynard Adams Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
October 26, 2010
Slave narratives comprise one of the most influential traditions in American literature, shaping the form and themes of some of the most celebrated and controversial writing, in both autobiography and fiction, in the history of the United States. In recent years, as their importance has been recognized, slave narratives have appeared on more and more high school literature curricula. How did they evolve? What are their major themes? How do narratives written by men differ from those written by women? How do they portray slavery and freedom? How have they influenced later writing, and what can they say to students in the twenty-first century?