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Double Consciousness: Subjectivity and Nationhood in the Antebellum Slave Narrative

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DOI: 10.38007/Proceedings.0001895


Fuqiang Hao

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Fuqiang Hao


Abstract: There are two sets of systems in terms of slavery in antebellum America, namely, the northern free states and the southern slave states: The plantation systems in the south and the industrial systems of the north might be said to conflict with each other: Slave narratives written by fugitives witness the different systems of miserable life in slave states and their comparatively free life in the north: In this paper, through reading of slave narratives before the Civil War, I want to discuss how the two economic and political systems in the slave states and free states coexist and conflict with each other, and, importantly, how slaves adopted strategies to convert the loopholes of the slavery to win their freedom: By taking the “double consciousness” as a framework and exploring its metaphorical meanings, I analyze a number of psychological, performance and text moments where the authors of slave narratives explore the “two-ness” created by the systems of slavery:


Keywords: Double Consciousness; Subjectivity; Nationhood; Antebellum Slave Narrative