In this essay, I will be examining the works of two authors on the topic of slavery in America: Ulrich B. Phillips American Negro Slavery (1918) and Toni Morrison Beloved (1987). One writes as a Southerner and a historian who is defending southern slaveholders and draws upon contemporary racial theory to justify the system as beneficial to African Americans. The other writes as an African-American woman who is looking to write women into history and in doing so, add a female voice to the past. The purpose of comparing these two texts is to bring awareness that historical knowledge is constructed and not a given and that the profile of the author influences the content of their work. When examining the history of slavery in America, we have a number of different sources to draw on.
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In Lei 8) Some incidents in the text can stand as incidents that really took place during slavery in America. Beloved clearly conceptualizes American history. Most apparent in the novel is the historical perspective: Morrison constructs history through the acts and consciousness of African American slaves through the perspective of the dominant white culture (Krumholz 107). Morrison wrote the text to recover the stories of slavery from the point of view of slaves in order to remind African Americans of their past. To achieve this, she depends on the African American oral culture and mythology adapted from the West African culture.
In particular in Toni Morrison’s novel Tar Baby the notion of race and ethnicity is explored through the blackness which presents to the readers that as a nation we are all implicated in the construction of blackness and to present and show ways that the black art can promote and transform the constructions. Zadie Smith’s novel ‘White Teeth’ explores the interaction between a set of different ethnicities which make up different British life. Smith’s purpose in ‘White Teeth’ is to find an attempt in which to construct a new model of Englishness that’s suited for the country’s multicultural make – up at the beginning of the twenty first century. Although the novel presents that it challenges the notion of race and ethnicity as it reveals through its form and its subject matter of the cultural anxieties that are attached to the construction of the Englishness in the contemporary imagination. (Victoria University Library data base - American Studies in Review.
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