Early American Slave Narratives

April Langley

in The Oxford Handbook of Early American Literature

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195187274
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Early American Slave Narratives

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)



A discourse on early American slave narratives is the essence of this article. Early American slave narratives shed light on the successful strategies used by black narrators for telling their stories. Their narrative strategies significantly influenced how such critical issues as religion, politics, commerce, and captivity have been articulated. Once considered as marginally black, slave narratives reflect the distinct voice of black American identity. They appropriate yet subvert a variety of important literary genres, including captivity narratives and spiritual autobiography. Briton Hammon's Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, A Negro Man (1760); Ukawsaw Gronniosaw's Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, An African Prince (1772) are some examples of this genre. Written by blacks, these narratives assert the identities of their authors even as they question the very meaning of identity and the possibilities of language to convey it.

Keywords: American slave; narratives; black narrators; captivity narratives; spiritual autobiography

Article.  7177 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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