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Title: Eighteenth-century slave narratives and their contemporary rewritings
Author: Knapp, Adrian
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 8942
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores different modes of self-presentation in eighteenth-century slave narratives and their contemporary rewritings. Focussing on texts by Phillis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, Ottobah Cugoano, Olaudah Equiano, Caryl Phillips and David Dabydeen, this study examines the fashioning of self as an oppositional tactic set against the oppressive cultural and discursive confines of the period of British abolition. While the first four chapters concentrate on different modes of self-presentation in texts from the 1770s and 1780s, the last two chapters focus on two novels from the 1990s that creatively reimagine the circumstances in which these eighteenth-century texts were composed. This thesis is not concerned with interior notions of the self or with recovering ‘authentic’ selfhoods that may be buried inside these texts. Instead, it focuses on the ways in which eighteenth-century slave narrators negotiate between self and society to construct particular discursive selves for political effect. I introduce the term ‘counterfeit’ self to foreground slave narrators’ tactical mode of self-fashioning that challenges, manipulates and exploits prevailing systems of discursive formation for political ends. As I will show, these texts’ ‘counterfeit’ selves undermine the genre’s structuring tension between authority and subjugation by provocatively blurring the sharp distinction between ideas of authenticity and fabrication. This not only enables them to break free from their constraining discursive formations, but also promotes a creative trans-epochal dialogue between eighteenthcentury texts and their contemporary rewritings. By bringing these two periods together in this thesis I hope to illustrate the way in which these texts’ slave narrators employ similar tactics to manipulate the discursive structures that underpin their mode of self-narration. To this end, I mine eighteenth-century texts for analytical tools to unpack their contemporary rewritings and to illuminate the way in which contemporary texts creatively redeploy techniques of their eighteenth-century antecedents.
Supervisor: Jones, Robert ; McLeod, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available