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IUPUI

1. Nyhuis, Jeremiah E. "A field lately ploughed" : the expressive landscapes of gender and race in the antebellum slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and William Grimes.

Degree: 2013, IUPUI

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

The complicated state wherein ex-slaves found themselves, as depicted in the narratives of Bibb, Jacobs, and others, problematizes the dualistic relationship between North and South that the genre’s structural components work to enforce, forging an odyssey that, although sometimes still spiritual in nature, does not offer the type of resolutions that might easily persuade fellow slaves to abandon their masters and seek a similarly ambiguous identity in the so-called “free” land of the North. For blacks and especially fugitive slaves, such restrictive legal provisions provided an “uncertain status” where, writes William Andrews, “the definition of freedom for black people remained open.” In those slave narratives that dare to depict the limits of liberty in the North, this “open” status is particularly reflected in the texts’ discursive terrain itself, which portends a series of candid observations and brutal details that actively work to deconstruct any sort of mythological pattern associated with the slave narrative genre, thereby offering a more expansive view of the experience for most fugitive slaves. The Life of William Grimes, a particularly frank and brutal diary of a man’s trials within and without slavery, is one such slave narrative, depicting a journey that, while more consistent with the general experience of ex-slaves in the antebellum U.S., often works outside the parameters of traditional, straight-forward slave narratives like Douglass’s. “I often was obliged to go off the road,” Grimes admits at one point in his autobiography, and although his remark refers to the cautious path he must tread as a fugitive slave, it might just as well describe the thematic and structural characteristics of his open-ended autobiography. Reputedly the first fugitive slave narrative, the publication of Grimes’s Life in 1825 initiated the beginning of a genre whose path had not yet been forged, which likely contributed to its fluid nature. At the time of his narrative’s publication, Grimes’s self-expressed testimony of injustice under slavery was about five years ahead of its time; it wouldn’t be until the 1830s that the U.S. antislavery movement would begin to consciously seek out ex-slaves to testify to their experience in bondage. Once this literary door was open, however, antislavery sentiment became for many early African American authors “a ready forum” for self-expression. Whereas in twenty years’ time Douglass would take full advantage of this opportunity by drawing inspiration from a number of already established narratives, Grimes as an author found himself singularly “off the road” and essentially alone in new literary territory, uncannily reflecting his sense of alienation and helplessness in the North after escaping from slavery aboard a cargo ship in 1815.

Advisors/Committee Members: Schultz, Jane E., Henry Anthony, Ronda C., Springer, Jennifer Thorington.

Subjects/Keywords: slave narratives, William Grimes, Frederick Douglass, gender, class, narratology; Grimes, William, 1784-1865  – Criticism and interpretation; Grimes, William, 1784-1865  – Life of William Grimes; Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895  – Criticism and interpretation; Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895  – Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave; Sex role in literature; Race in literature; Gender identity in literature; Fugitive slaves  – United States  – History; Slaves' writings, American; Slave narratives  – History and criticism; American literature  – African American authors  – History and criticism  – 19th century

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APA (6th Edition):

Nyhuis, J. E. (2013). "A field lately ploughed" : the expressive landscapes of gender and race in the antebellum slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and William Grimes. (Thesis). IUPUI. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1805/3628

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Nyhuis, Jeremiah E. “"A field lately ploughed" : the expressive landscapes of gender and race in the antebellum slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and William Grimes.” 2013. Thesis, IUPUI. Accessed November 12, 2019. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/3628.

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Nyhuis, Jeremiah E. “"A field lately ploughed" : the expressive landscapes of gender and race in the antebellum slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and William Grimes.” 2013. Web. 12 Nov 2019.

Vancouver:

Nyhuis JE. "A field lately ploughed" : the expressive landscapes of gender and race in the antebellum slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and William Grimes. [Internet] [Thesis]. IUPUI; 2013. [cited 2019 Nov 12]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1805/3628.

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

Council of Science Editors:

Nyhuis JE. "A field lately ploughed" : the expressive landscapes of gender and race in the antebellum slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and William Grimes. [Thesis]. IUPUI; 2013. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1805/3628

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

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