Thursday, May 20, 2010

Harriet Wilson's Our Nig and Class Presentations

1861 photo of girls in the school yard of the Colored Orphan Asylum, located at 5th Ave. & 43rd St. in New York City.  

Wilson's Our Nig

Hi, class,

This evening, we will be examining Harriet Wilson's Our Nig. Please note that the subtitle is Sketches from the Life of a Free Black. In this autobiographical novel, Wilson melds the two most popular literary genres of the 19th century: the slave narrative and the sentimental novel. 

I would like you to consider how this novel fits in with the other works we have read this semester, or other works you may have read outside of this class (written during the same era), and to think about the following questions:

  • How does this novel compare with other works--what are the similarities, and what are the differences? 
  • What is significant about the prefatory note that precedes the beginning of the story? 
  • What major themes emerge in this novel? 
  • What is Harriet Wilson's motive for writing Our Nig that sets her apart from her (white women) contemporaries?
  • How do you "read" race, gender, and class in Our Nig?
I would like you to think about these questions and make some notes on passages of significance to you!

In addition, we will have the following 5-minute presentations this evening:

Marcus Hulin: Lucy Parsons, "I Am an Anarchist" (1886)
Makeda Moses: Ida B. Wells, "Lynch Law in All Its Phases" (1893)
Christopher Smith: Booker T. Washington, "The Atlanta Compromise Speech" (1895)
June Joseph: Mary Church Terrell, "In Union There is Strength" (1897)
Anatali SaintLouis: Alexander Crummell, "The Attitude of the American Mind..." (1898)
Prof. Williams: W.E.B.Du Bois: "To the Nations of the World" (1900)

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