This project focuses on abolitionist texts and, later, anti-racist texts. I argue that their use of sentimental rhetoric, particularly the use of sentimental heroes, portray Africanist ideas. This rhetoric offers a narrative for white culture that keeps western and white people in a power position, regardless of how the relationship between white and black people alters.
Chapter one focuses on eighteenth-century abolitionist texts, Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative (1789) and William Wilberforce’s “Speech to the House of Commons” (1789) respectively. I argue that their sentimental rhetoric propagates Africanist ideas, particularly through their construction of sentimental heroes. Both texts construct Africa and Africans as less developed.
Chapter two focuses on Mary Prince’s The History of Mary Prince (1832) and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1853), two nineteenth-century anti-slavery texts. These texts further develop the ideas seen in Equiano and Wilberforce. They also establish a link between slaves born and raised in the West Indies or the United States with Africans, implicitly arguing that slaves do not belong in the West.
In Chapter three, I argue that the rhetoric used by eighteenth- and nineteenth- century texts is still apparent in twenty-first century popular fiction. I focus on Kathryn Stockett’s The Help (2009) in order to analyze how her construction of sentimental heroes contributes to a stable power relationship between white and black Americans.
|Advisor:||Robertson, Lisa Ann|
|Commitee:||Dudley, John, Lampert, Sara|
|School:||University of South Dakota|
|School Location:||United States -- South Dakota|
|Source:||MAI 81/2(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||British and Irish literature, American literature|
|Keywords:||Abolition, Africanism, Sensibility|
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