Presentation on theme: "Harriet Jacobs. Born a slave in Edenton, NC, 1813. She worked as a domestic slave. Sent to her mistress’s niece. Her master Dr. James Norcom sought to."— Presentation transcript:
Born a slave in Edenton, NC, 1813. She worked as a domestic slave. Sent to her mistress’s niece. Her master Dr. James Norcom sought to abuse her. She elects to engage in a relationship with Samuel Tredwell Sawyer, a white neighbor. They have two children (Joseph and Louisa) Eventually sent to a plantation b/of her refusal of her master.
She hides and he sells her children to their white father, who allowed them to live with their free grandmother Molly Horniblow. For 7 years she lived in an attic crawl space. She read the bible, sewed, and planned their freedom. In 1842, she escapes north. She joins various political organizations including a circle of anti-slavery feminists. Amy Post gets her to write her narrative.
She was uneasy about presenting her life to the public. Intended to have Harriet Beecher Stowe shape the narrative. (Amy Post facilitates.) – Stowe insults her daughter Louisa. – Stowe seeks verification from Cornelia Willis. The writing took five years. It was completed in 1858. Couldn’t find a publisher whose terms she would agree to.
Boston firm of Thayer and Eldridge agree if she gets an introduction by Lydia Maria Child. Incidents is published privately in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent and then picked up the following year by a London publisher. Received little critical interest until 1981. Jean Fagan Yellin uses correspondence to validate text (1987 ed).
The Framing Preface by Jacobs Non-fiction—(in fact, I haven’t told you all the horrors of slavery). Protects individuals by giving them other names. Not seeking fame as an author or sympathy for myself. Appeal to the women of the north (woman to woman for the suffering of 2 million women). Show you what slavery really is.
Child’s intro. I know her. Don’t doubt her. She wrote it. She is unusually literate. I just arranged it. Public needs to know the truth of the institution of slavery. Women you need to take up your duty. Northern men fight against the fugitive slave law!
– Questions: How does slavery corrupt the moral and sentimental ideals of society? How does Jacobs position herself (with her account) in the space between those social/moral expectations and the reality of slavery? In other words: how does her account adopt and at the same time subvert the conventions of sentimentalism? How does slavery pervert “normal” relationships between men and women? (e.g. between husbands and wives) What other ideas of public and private morality does slavery pervert/undermine?