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The American Anti-Slavery Society originally published Narrative of James Williams, an American Slave in 1838 to much fanfare, describing it as a rare slave autobiography. Soon thereafter, however, southerners challenged the authenticity of the work and the society retracted it. Abolitionists at the time were unable to defend the book; and, until now, historians could not verify Williams's identity or find the Alabama slave owners he named in the book. As a result, most scholars characterized the author as a fraud, perhaps never even a slave, or at least not under the circumstances described in the book.
In this annotated edition of Narrative of James Williams, an American Slave, Hank Trent provides newly discovered biographical information about the true author of the book -- an African American man enslaved in Alabama and Virginia. Trent identifies Williams's owners in those states as well as in Maryland and Louisiana. He explains how Williams escaped from slavery and then altered his life story to throw investigators off his track. Through meticulous and extensive research, Trent also reveals unknown details of James Williams's real life, drawing upon runaway ads, court cases, census records, and estate inventories never before linked to him or to the narrative. In the end, Trent proves that the author of the book was truly an enslaved man, albeit one who wrote a romanticized, fictionalized story based on his real life, which proved even more complex and remarkable than the story he told.
The ###Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper# can be read as an extended autobiographical meditation on the meaning of race in antebellum America. First published in England, the text documents the life of Moses Roper, beginning with his birth in North Carolina and chronicling his travels through South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Roper was able to obtain employment on a schooner named ###The Fox#, and in 1834 he made his way to freedom aboard the vessel. Once in Boston, he was quickly recruited as a signatory to the constitution of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), but he sailed to England the next year. Roper's narrative is especially interesting because although it was published after Frederick Douglass's much-heralded 1845 ###Narrative#, Roper actually preceded Douglass in his involvement in AASS as well as in his travel to the United Kingdom. This text is often cited by literary scholars because of its length, its extensive detail, and its unforgiving portrayal of enslaved life in the "land of the free."
Born into slavery in North Carolina around 1786, Moses Grandy was bequeathed to his young playmate, his original owner's son, when they were both eight years old. Hired out until he was twenty-one, Grandy describes each of his temporary masters--some cruel and some kind. His first wife is sold shortly after they marry, and he never sees her again. After saving his money whenever possible and buying his freedom for $600, Grandy is betrayed by his childhood friend, who sells him. Grandy marries again and purchases his freedom a second time, only to be once again betrayed. With the assistance of white friends, Grandy buys his freedom a third time and moves north. He is also able to purchase the freedom of his second wife, but their children remain in slavery. Grandy wrote this ###Narrative# to raise funds for the freedom of his children.
Prose poems that profile the interrelationship of the two central characters, looking deeply into their psyches and thoughts of race, class, and identity.
African Travel in Modern Fiction and Nonfiction
In Narrative Paths: African Travel in Modern Fiction and Nonfiction, Kai Mikkonen argues that early twentieth-century European travel writing, journal keeping, and fiction converged and mutually influenced each other in ways that inform current debates about the fiction–nonfiction distinction. Turning to narratives set in sub-Saharan Africa, Mikkonen identifies five main dimensions of interplay between fiction and nonfiction: the experiential frame of the journey, the redefinition of the language and objective of description, the shared cultural givens and colonial notions concerning sub-Saharan Africa, the theme of narrativisation, and the issue of virtual genres. Narrative Paths reveals the important role that travel played as a frame in these modernist fictions as well as the crucial ways that nonfiction travel narratives appropriated fictional strategies. Narrative Paths contributes to debates in narratology and rhetorical narrative theory about the fiction–nonfiction distinction. With chapters on a wide range of modernist authors—from Pierre Loti, André Gide, Michel Leiris, and Georges Simenon to Blaise Cendrars, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)—Mikkonen’s study also contributes to postcolonial approaches to these authors, examining issues of representation, narrative voice, and authority in narratives about colonial Africa.
Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse
Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse develops a narrative theory of the pervasive use of disability as a device of characterization in literature and film. It argues that, while other marginalized identities have suffered cultural exclusion due to a dearth of images reflecting their experience, the marginality of disabled people has occurred in the midst of the perpetual circulation of images of disability in print and visual media. The manuscript's six chapters offer comparative readings of key texts in the history of disability representation, including the tin soldier and lame Oedipus, Montaigne's "infinities of forms" and Nietzsche's "higher men," the performance history of Shakespeare's Richard III, Melville's Captain Ahab, the small town grotesques of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and Katherine Dunn's self-induced freaks in Geek Love.David T. Mitchell is Associate Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies, Northern Michigan University. Sharon L. Snyder is Assistant Professor of Film and Literature, Northern Michigan University.
How Stories Can Shape Clinical Practice
Psychiatry has lagged behind many clinical specialties in recognizing the importance of narrative for understanding and effectively treating disease. With this book, Bradley Lewis makes the challenging and compelling case that psychiatrists need to promote the significance of narrative in their practice as well. Narrative already holds a prominent place in psychiatry. Patient stories are the foundation for diagnosis and the key to managing treatment and measuring its effectiveness. Even so, psychiatry has paid scant scholarly attention to the intrinsic value of patient stories. Fortunately, the study of narrative outside psychiatry has grown exponentially in recent years, and it is now possible for psychiatry to make considerable advances in its appreciation of clinical stories. Narrative Psychiatry picks up this intellectual opportunity and develops the tools of narrative for psychiatry. Lewis explores the rise of narrative medicine and looks closely at recent narrative approaches to psychotherapy. He uses philosophic and fictional writings, such as Anton Chekhov’s play Ivanov, to develop key terms in narrative theory (plot, metaphor, character, point of view) and to understand the interpretive dimensions of clinical work. Finally, Lewis brings this material back to psychiatric practice, showing how narrative insights can be applied in psychiatric treatments—including the use of psychiatric medications. Nothing short of a call to rework the psychiatric profession, Narrative Psychiatry advocates taking the inherently narrative-centered patient-psychiatrist relationship to its logical conclusion: making the story a central aspect of treatment.
Making Sense of Fragments
In Narrative Structure in Comics: Making Sense of Fragments, Barbara Postema seeks to explain how comics communicate and create meaning, with an emphasis on two aspects of comics. She first examines the pictorial quality of comics, which receives more emphasis than verbal/textual elements. Her second focus is upon the storytelling and narrative qualities of comics, as well as the literary explorations they provide. The “narrative structure” refers to the potential of images, the story telling capacities of panels, and the sequence of panels, in addition to the more traditional narratological concepts. Overall, the author presents a credible rationale for the way in which comics structure their narratives. At every level of communication, comics rely on gaps or absences to create meaning and guide the reader to a meaningful experience. RIT Press is pleased to announce Narrative Structure in Comics: Making Sense of Fragments as the first book published in its Comics Monograph Series. Take a detailed look at the narrative qualities of beloved comics in ways that will educate and excite the reader.
Narrative Structures and the Language of the Self by Matthew Clark offers a new way of thinking about the interrelation of character and plot. Clark investigates the characters brought together in a narrative, considering them not as random collections but as structured sets that correspond to various manifestations of the self. The shape and structure of these sets can be thought of as narrative geometry, and various geometries imply various theories of the self. Part One, “Philosophical Fables of the Self,” examines narratives such as The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Farewell to Arms, A Separate Peace, and The Master of Ballantrae in order to show successively more complex versions of the self as modeled by Descartes, Hegel, Freud, and Mead. Part Two, “The Case of the Subject,” uses Case Grammar to extend the discussion to additional roles of the self in narratives such as The Waves, The Great Gatsby, Fifth Business, and Howards End as examples of the self as experiencer, the self as observer, the instrumental self, and the locative self. The book ends with an extended analysis of the subject in Hartley’s The Go-Between. Throughout, the discussion is concerned with practical analysis of specific narratives and with the development of an understanding of the self that moves beyond the simple dichotomy of the self and the other, the subject and the object.
Core Concepts and Critical Debates
Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates addresses two frequently asked questions about narrative studies: “what is narrative theory?” and “how do different approaches to narrative relate to each other?” In engaging with these questions, the book demonstrates the diversity and vitality of the field and promotes a broader dialogue about its assumptions, methods, and purposes. In Part One, the co-authors explore the scope and aims of narrative from four distinct perspectives: rhetorical (Phelan and Rabinowitz), feminist (Warhol), mind-oriented (Herman), and unnatural (Richardson). Using case studies (Huckleberry Finn, Persuasion, On Chesil Beach, and Midnight’s Children, respectively), the co-authors explain their different takes on the same core concepts: authors, narrators, narration; plot, time, and progression; space, setting, and perspective; character; reception and the reader; and narrative values. In Part Two, the co-authors respond to one another’s views. As they discuss the relation of the approaches to each other, they highlight significant current debates and map out key developments in the field. Accessibly written, Narrative Theory can serve as the basis for a wide range of courses, even as its incisive presentation of four major approaches and its lively give-and-take about the powers and limitations of each make the book an indispensable resource for specialists.