This unit will present to the students various samplings of oral and written testimony about slavery from slaves as they experienced it and from former slaves as they remembered it. The narratives will be read, analyzed and reenacted in the classroom. The narratives will be examined for their content and their style. Common themes and characteristics will be highlighted.
The scope of this unit will not be confined to nonfictional narratives, but will also include those fictionalized narratives of Charles Chesnutt which appeared in
The Conjure Woman.
“Po’ Sandy” wrenches the heart with its poignant rendering of Uncle Julius’ tale of a slave turned into a tree to escape slavery only to be chopped down for lumber to build a new kitchen. Arguably all autobiography is fiction at some point. This unit will cross that imaginary line shamelessly.
More obscure slave narratives will be sought for this unit. Many are beginning to surface in recent studies. Dark voices from unmarked graves haunt quietly yet incessantly. These voices beg to be heard.