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African American Literature English 244 – Exam 1

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Directions: Respond to any two (2) of the following prompts. Full credit will be given to responses that thoughtfully and completely address the questions. Complete responses are those which are thesis driven and which appropriately reference and cite texts. (Refer to the MLA handouts on Bb.) Points will
be deducted from those papers that do not reference specific textual evidence to support the writer’s positions.

1. Having read both the excerpt from Chapter XIX of Clotel, or The President’s Daughter (1853) and “The Mulatto” (1837) by Victor Sejour, consider the similarities between Clotel’s and Georges’s familial circumstances. Identify several consequences that Brown and Sejour suggest slavery poses for both enslaved Africana people and for the larger, white slave-holding community.

2. The image of the crouching slave (Figure A) became an icon of the anti-slavery movement of the 1800’s. It appeared in the abolitionist publications, such as William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper The Liberator, in pamphlets and broadsides, and it was even stitched into pincushions and printed on stationery that was
featured in many homes. The image effectively advanced the cause of abolition because it represents enslaved people’s heartfelt plea for help. The attached slogan “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” forced audiences to consider the position of the slave and to take a position on slavery. Contrasting the image of the crouching slave is another illustration (Figure B), which depicts Frederick Douglass, battling proslavery forces that disrupted an abolitionist meeting in Indiana in 1843. This kind of open revolt was increasingly prevalent within slave holding states. Citing evidence from actual readings, identify and discuss the image that is the better representation of the literature we have read thus far.

3. Review one of your favorite texts; then, respond to one (1) of the following:
a. If your favorite text is a story, how do any of the characters refute the ideas Thomas Jefferson ascribes to Africana people in the 1700’s? How does the author advance the two primary purposes of Black literature during the period of slavery?
African American literature Assignment

b. If your favorite text is a speech, how does the orator refute the ideas Thomas Jefferson projects onto Blacks, beginning in the 1700’s? How does that speaker advance the two primary purposes of Black literature during the period of slavery?
4. Consider Frances E. W. Harper’s short story “The Two Offers” (1859) and her poem “A Double Standard” (1895). What message does Harper prioritize in the poem, and what message does she emphasize in her story? In what ways might Harper’s messages be relevant in the lives of contemporary female readers?

5. Read pages 105-107 of Alexander Crummell’s “The Black Woman of the South: Her Needs and Her Wants” (1883): Using textual evidence, discuss how Crummell’s characterizations of Black women’s experiences relate to the experiences of other characters or authors/orators we have read? Additionally, does any other character or writer we have read present a possible remedy for the challenges Crummell identifies? If not, do not answer this question. If so, be
sure to cite characters, persona, and/or speakers who proscribe solutions to the issues Crummell outlines.

6. The following graphic illustrates and explains the ongoing Psychology debate regarding Nature vs. Nurture:

African American literature

Based on the class readings, identify any two selections which address the institution of slavery and/or the slaves’ condition with respect to this continuum. (This question is more challenging than the others, and students who address the prompt appropriately could earn bonus points.)

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