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1. Context and Methodology
About this Lecture
In this module, we provide a broad introduction to the history of slavery in the United States as well as thinking about some of the key sources for understanding what life was like for enslaved women. In particular, we think about: (i) the rapid expansion of the enslaved population in the United States between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries; (ii) the importance of women in the replenishment of the slave stock, particularly after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807; and (iii) the ‘archival silences’ surrounding the lives of enslaved women, and the importance of sources such as Harriet Jacobs’ ‘Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl’ and the WPA interviews conducted with formerly enslaved people in the 1930s.
In this course, Professor Emily West (University of Reading) explores the experience of enslaved women in the United States during the Antebellum Period (1815-61). In the first module, we provide a broad introduction to the history of slavery in the United States, as well as thinking about the key sources that historians can use to find out about the institution of slavery, and some of the methodological problems associated with these sources. In the second module, we think about the different kinds of work undertaken by enslaved women, before turning in the third module to enslaved women’s wider roles within their families and communities and their resistance to oppression. In the fourth module, we think about the physical and sexual abuse suffered before enslaved women, before moving on in the fifth module to explore the relationship between enslaved women and slave-owning women. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about how life for enslaved women changed during and after the American Civil War.
Emily West is Professor of History at the University of Reading. Her research interests centre on issues of race and gender in American history, especially in relation to slavery in the US South. Her recent publications include Enslaved Women in America: From Colonial Times to Emancipation (2014) and Family or Freedom: Free People of Color in the Antebellum South (2012).
Cite this Lecture
West, E. (2019, March 04). Enslaved Women in the United States, c.1815-61 - Context and Methodology [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/enslaved-women-in-the-united-states-c-1815-61/context-and-methodology
West, Emily. "Enslaved Women in the United States, c.1815-61 – Context and Methodology." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Mar 2019, https://massolit.io/courses/enslaved-women-in-the-united-states-c-1815-61/context-and-methodology