Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World
Liverpool University Press, 2007 - 210 pages
The events of Frederick Douglass’s early life are well known due to his famous autobiography, yet his extraordinary story continued for another fifty years beyond the struggles recounted in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. One of the unexamined aspects of this life is Douglass’s travels throughout the Atlantic world. Lengthy excursions to other countries including Egypt, Haiti, and particularly Ireland, had a profound effect on Douglass’s writing as well as his understanding of how identity is constructed along national, class, and racial lines.
Fionnghuala Sweeney reveals that when abroad Douglass experienced entirely new responses to his status as a black man, a champion of the oppressed, and, most tellingly, as an American. In addition, Sweeney examines how his presence in these countries had a lasting effect on the people who attended his speeches. Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World offers a surprisingly fresh approach to a familiar figure and will appeal to scholars working in the fields of history, literature, and cultural studies—or anyone engaged with the implications of the United States as empire.
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