<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
This module considers strategies for teaching George Dunham's travel journal A Journey to Brazil in conjunction with U.S. anti-slavery literature.

Slavery, violence, and exploitation in 19th-century u.s. literature

As sectional tensions within the U.S. escalated toward civil war, African slavery became an increasingly important point of focus for literary texts of the antebellum period. Anti-slavery ideologies feature prominently in works by several canonical authors of the time, including essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Fugitive Slave Law,” (1851) and Henry David Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience,” (1849) as well as Herman Melville’s renowned novella, "Benito Cereno" (1856). Though a long-standing genre throughout the Americas, the slave narrative reached its peak of popularity during the ten years leading up to the U.S. Civil War, its most famous iterations now being Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life (1845) and Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). And the most popular U.S. novel of the entire nineteenth century was, of course, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). This brief catalogue does not even begin to account for the plethora of pro-slavery texts that appeared in the years following the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin , often referred to as “anti-Tom novels.” Some notable examples of these anti-Tom novels include The Planter’s Northern Bride (1854) by Caroline Lee Hentz and The Free Flag of Cuba (1854) by Lucy Holcombe Pickens. Even as these works waged a fierce ideological battle, they shared a common underlying goal in purporting to depict the realities of the slave system in America. While anti-slavery texts highlighted the violence and degradation experienced by slaves within the South, pro-slavery writers countered with images of loyal and happy slaves who depended upon their owners for their own well-being and protection. These debates were no doubt at the front of George Dunham’s mind as he recorded his observations of the Brazilian slave system and its everyday operations.

Positioning Dunham’s experiences with Brazilian slavery in his A Journey to Brazil (1853) - which is held at Rice University's Woodson Research Center as part of the larger ‘Our Americas’ Archive Partnership - among the aforementioned masterworks of U.S. slavery literature offers a host of pedagogical opportunities. That being said, attempting to deduce, from his journal, Dunham’s political views on slavery poses its own set of difficulties. He has been invited by a group of plantation owners to help modernize their operations through an infusion of new technologies and techniques, so he has ample opportunity to witness the treatment of slaves on the plantations. Quite purposefully, it would seem, he sprinkles several instances throughout his writings of violence committed against slaves, always cast in a negative and disapproving light. Early in the journal he writes, “saw the first Negro whipped to day and hope it will be the last” (see Figure 1 [a]). Having spent more time working and living in Brazil, he begins to go into slightly greater detail concerning these outbursts of violence, taking on a somewhat more questioning and critical tone: “There was a Negro woman taken into the building and whipped today I don’t know what for and it will do no good to ask for it is by chance if I could find out and it is no use to say anything here for it would only make a bad matter worse” (see Figure 1 [b]).

Questions & Answers

I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Slavery in the americas. OpenStax CNX. Jul 18, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11314/1.3
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Slavery in the americas' conversation and receive update notifications?