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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Extraordinary Black Slave Woman in Nineteenth-Century Slave Narratives

  • Author(s): Thomas, Kimber
  • Advisor(s): Yarborough, Richard
  • et al.

This thesis identifies a new type of black female character present in African American literature. By extending Trudier Harris' research on representations of the "strong" black woman backwards into the nineteenth century, this thesis argues that the earliest literary depiction of such figures is the "extraordinary black slave woman," an image present in many nineteenth-century slave narratives. In particular, I argue that in the narratives of Harriet Jacobs, Mary Prince, Frederick Douglass, Sylvia Dubois, Zilpha Elaw and Jarena Lee, the extraordinary slave women are depicted as domestic workers, manual laborers, physical resisters, mothers, and spiritual sisters.

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