American Protest Literature Lecture Videos (Harvard University)
American Protest Literature Lecture Videos (Harvard University) from "Literature and Arts A-86: American Protest Literature from Tom Paine to Tupac"
Discussion of the politics of slavery and abolition in colonial American society and the early Republic; the emergence of the African colonization movement and the American Colonization Society; creation of the African Methodist Episcopal church; the formation of free black communities in the North; early African-American protest and its impact on abolitionism; David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World (1829); the life and writings of Pequod activist William Apess; white social views on Native Americans; and African-Native American relations.
Continued discussion of Walker’s Appeal; use of the Declaration of Independence in the political rhetoric of American social protest movements; the rise of abolitionism, from early free black immediatism to white abolitionism (e.g. Garrisonianism); millennialism, racial and sexual egalitarianism, and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855). Includes a recommended dramatic reading (by Tim McCarthy) of Susan Garnet Smith’s love letter to Whitman.
Discussion of Whitman and working people; Henry David Thoreau, Transcendentalism, and “Civil Disobedience” (1848); rise of abolitionism and the role of women in the movement; the 1848 Seneca Falls woman’s rights convention; Frederick Douglass, public speaking, and the 1845 Narrative; extended analysis of Douglass’ ‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?’ speech (1852); George Fitzhugh and the proslavery argument.
Discussion of Lydia Maria Child and the scandal of ‘amalgamation’; responses to student questions on Whitman, Lincoln, and Thoreau; antebellum racial phenotypes and pseudo-scientific racism; visual and print culture of the abolitionist movement; stages of slave narrative production; characteristics of slave narratives; background of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) and its immense popularity and controversy; Stowe’s religion and conversion experience; James Baldwin’s famous essay on Stowe’s racial stereotyping; definition and rise of literary sentimentalism.
Continued discussion of Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin as classic work of American protest literature; romantic racialism; John Brown’s life and prison letters.
Discussion of images of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (American and British editions) and John Brown (daguerreotypes, Jacob Lawrence’s John Brown series, Thomas Hovenden’s 1884 painting, “The Last Moments of John Brown”); continued discussion of Brown’s prison letters and white anti-racism; the issue of violence in abolitionist debates and Garrisonian non-violence; Kansas-Nebraska conflicts and popular sovereignty; the approach and arrival of the Civil War; the Constitution of the Confederate States of America; Rebecca Harding Davis’s Life in the Iron Mills (1860) and the destruction of the free labor ideal; the rise of American realist fiction.
These videos are being provided free of charge for public educational purposes, via the Antislavery Literature Project.
All videos © John Stauffer and Timothy Patrick McCarthy, 2006.