The Freedom to Remember: Narrative, Slavery, and Gender in Contemporary Black Women's Fiction (Paperback)

The Freedom to Remember: Narrative, Slavery, and Gender in Contemporary Black Women's Fiction By Angelyn Mitchell Cover Image
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Description


The Freedom to Remember examines contemporary literary revisions of slavery in the United States by black women writers. The narratives at the center of this book include: Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, Sherley Anne Williams’s Dessa Rose, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, J. California Cooper’s Family, and Lorene Cary’s The Price of a Child.

Recent studies have investigated these works only from the standpoint of victimization. Angelyn Mitchell changes the conceptualization of these narratives, focusing on the theme of freedom, not slavery, defining these works as “liberatory narratives.” These works create a space to problematize the slavery/freedom dichotomy from which contemporary black women writers have the “safe” vantage point to reveal aspects of enslavement that their ancestors could not examine. The nineteenth-century female emancipatory narrative, by contrast, was written to aid the cause of abolition by revealing the unspeakable realitiesof slavery. Mitchell shows how the liberatory narrative functions to emancipate its readers from the legacies of slavery in American society: by facilitating a deeper discussion of the issues and by making them new through illumination and interrogation.

About the Author


Angelyn Mitchell is an associate professor of English at Georgetown University. She is the editor of Within the Circle: An Anthology of African American Literary Criticism from the Harlem Renaissance to the Present.

Praise For…


"In this provocative, indeed indispensable, study, Mitchell uses Harriet Jacobs's emancipatory narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) as her urtext in examining five novels by women: Octavia Butler's Kindred (1979), Sherley Ann Williams's Dessa Rose (1986), Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987), J. California Cooper's Family (1991), and Lorene Cary's The Price of a Child (1995). . . . All academic collections."
— Choice

"Angelyn Mitchell's extraordinary study is rich in detail and analysis, confidently mediating our ways of remembering the narratives of slavery as well as the ways of women—as writer and as characterùbearing courageous witness. The Freedom to Remember is scholarship at its very best and will surely be one of the essential books in critical and cultural studies."
— Karla Holloway

"A work of evocative interpretation and socially healing criticism, The Freedom to Remember reveals the liberating thematics of contemporary black women's contribution to the much-acclaimed neoslave narrative."
— William L. Andrews

"Building upon the work of Toni Cade Bambara, Eleanor Traylor, and Sherley Anne Williams, Angelyn Mitchell is the first to elaborate the need for a shift in terminology used to discuss slave narratives and contemporary novels of slavery. If the only contribution of The Freedom to Remember is to popularize a change from slave narrative to emancipatory narrative and from neo-slave narrative to liberatory narrative, Angelyn Mitchell will have accomplished a great deal."
— Farah Jasmine Griffin

"In this provocative, indeed indispensable, study, Mitchell uses Harriet Jacobs's emancipatory narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) as her urtext in examining five novels by women: Octavia Butler's Kindred (1979), Sherley Ann Williams's Dessa Rose (1986), Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987), J. California Cooper's Family (1991), and Lorene Cary's The Price of a Child (1995). . . . All academic collections."
— Choice

"Angelyn Mitchell's extraordinary study is rich in detail and analysis, confidently mediating our ways of remembering the narratives of slavery as well as the ways of women—as writer and as characterùbearing courageous witness. The Freedom to Remember is scholarship at its very best and will surely be one of the essential books in critical and cultural studies."
— Karla Holloway

"A work of evocative interpretation and socially healing criticism, The Freedom to Remember reveals the liberating thematics of contemporary black women's contribution to the much-acclaimed neoslave narrative."
— William L. Andrews

"Building upon the work of Toni Cade Bambara, Eleanor Traylor, and Sherley Anne Williams, Angelyn Mitchell is the first to elaborate the need for a shift in terminology used to discuss slave narratives and contemporary novels of slavery. If the only contribution of The Freedom to Remember is to popularize a change from slave narrative to emancipatory narrative and from neo-slave narrative to liberatory narrative, Angelyn Mitchell will have accomplished a great deal."
— Farah Jasmine Griffin
Product Details
ISBN: 9780813530697
ISBN-10: 0813530695
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: March 1st, 2002
Pages: 200
Language: English