Slavery and American Popular Culture
FYS 033, CRN 6974
In 1865 the United States ended slavery in this country, freeing four million African Americans. Slavery has been the subject of countless works of fiction, non-fiction, and film. Depictions of slavery in American popular culture began well before slavery ended. Many anti-slavery political activists wrote widely-read newspapers, novels, and nonfiction books. Arguably, these works helped to end slavery. In this class we will examine material from the past, including anti-slavery fiction and nonfiction, and from the present, including current fiction, scholarly writing, and movies. Students will gain an understanding of both slavery and representation of slavery in popular culture. In addition, we will discuss more generally the ways in which pop culture can help and hinder our thinking about the past and the present.