chapter  1
19 Pages

Narrating Slavery

The autobiographical narratives of former slaves comprise one of the most extensive and influential traditions in African American litera­ ture and culture. The slave narrative is now probably the single most widely studied literary tradition in African American literature. Slave narratives are assuming increasing prominence in major anthologies of American literature, in reevaluations of the mid-nineteenth-century American literary renaissance, and in courses, both undergraduate and graduate, devoted to the history of American first-person narrative. Scholars now recognize the slave narrative's profound resonance in, and sometimes its direct influence on, classic white American fiction, as well as many modern African American novels, and some of the most popular black autobiographies of the post-World War II era.