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LIT 4386 British and American Literature
by Women


Class 8


Reading Assignment:

    Jacobs, from "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" (460)
    POST #3 Group B


    Class Objectives:

  • To introduce Harriet Jacobs/Linda Brent
  • To discuss the slave narrative
  • To discuss complications of the ANGEL IN THE HOUSE


Notes and Discussion Questions:

Don't forget to read Jane Eyre

1. Harriet Jacobs c. 1813-1897

This is an autobiographical piece and so our discussion of who the author is and what she writes will overlap. However, let me caution you, these two things are not necessarily the same. How might that be true?

What have we read for today? What form is it?

How much have we read for today?

What is the setting?

Who is the author?

How is the issue of naming complicated in this piece?

Why does Jacobs adopt a pseudonym?

Lydia Marie Child (1802-1880) is the original editor of this work. She is an author of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and biography, and she is principally known for her work in the abolitionaist movement and her early sympathetic treatment of native americans in Hobomok (1824). She wrote Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans (1833), and History of the conditions of Women in Various Ages and Nations (1835) to mixed response (support and acrimony). She valiantly continued the promotion of the African-American cause, not only through her own writing and editing (the National Anti-slavery Standard, but also through publication of works by or for African-Americans, including Harriet Jacobs Incidents. She pioneered the use of biographies of minorities and women as inspiring role models, a technique which has become common in literature directed to empowerment and equal rights. (From Buck, The Bloomsbury Guide to Women’s Literature). How important is the editor of this piece?

What impact does Lydia Marie Child have on the representation of Linda Brent / Harriet Jacobs?

What is the audience for this text?

How might that shape the representation of self?

Recall the ideologies that affect mid-19th century women – the domestic ideology we talked about with respect to Sojourner Truth. Virginia Woolf, writing in the last stages of the dominance of this domestic ideology called it – The Angel in the House: read the passage from NALW pp. 1345-6.

Do you recognize the Angel in the House?

How does the “domestic ideology” of middle-class white women (the “angel in the house”) affect Jacobs' representation of herself?

What are the problems areas in Jacobs’ story?

What are the important connections between Jacobs’ story and that of middle-class white women?

2. Discussion

How would you describe the character who emerges from this text?

What does Harriet Jacobs’ story tell us about women in the 19th century?

As a captivity narrative, how does Jacob’s narrative differ from / parallel Mary Rowlandson’s text of two hundred years earlier?

How does the representation of a black woman and slave differ in Jacob’s and Wheatley’s texts? Truth’s?


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