Since both texts were short in length but rich in prompts for discussion, I am posting questions I would like to discuss in class on Friday on both of them. If I don’t have the time, I will skip one or two questions. Each parenthesis contains a link either to an interesting essay or to a video I found while I was researching.
A. Nat Turner (Nat Turner’s rebellion and the aftermath):
- Religious Leader and his revelations:
- Leading question: was Turner a prophet or an intelligent leader who knew how to motivate the other slaves to revolve against the masters?
- “What is African Christianity? What caused the formation of this particular religion, and why? How is it relevant to Nat Turner? At first, the European enslavement of Africans was only economic. Eventually, Europeans justified their participation in the slave trade by declaring that their economic interest was also evangelical. Europeans contained a demand for African labor,
which also included the goal of converting Africans to Christians. The result was the enslavement of African people and the merger of African religions with European Christianity, a form of Christianity that satisfied both Africans and Europeans” (The Journal of Pan African Studies 127).
- “The dynamics of African and European “religious knowledge and philosophy” and the “reevaluation of basic concepts and sources of knowledge of both religions” to find common ground made this religious merger satisfactory to the “religious understandings” of both parties…This common ground is the concept of “revelation.” (The Journal of Pan African Studies 127).
- Military leader leading against the “enemy.”
- Leading Question: Many rebellions and revolutions happened during the era of 1800 to 1900. Is Nat Turner’s rebellion one of them?
- William Lloyd Garrison, in response to the Southampton Insurrection, stated that the “excesses of the slaves . . . Deserve no more censure than the Greeks in destroying the Turks, or the Poles in exterminating the Russians, or our fathers in slaughtering the British. Dreadful, indeed, is the standard erected by worldly patriotism!” (82). Therefore, it is only a black slave’s audacious application of the principle of resistance in the United States that elicits the charge of illegitimate enthusiasm” (Nat Turner and the Work of Enthusiasm, 1349).
- Memoir or Confession?
- Leading question: Having read the Smith and Watson’s textbook and with an idea in mind of what is a memoir or autobiography, would you say that the Confessions of Nat Turner can be categorized in any of these genres?
- Why Nat Turner’s confession is essential for African American literature?
- “In the afterward to the 1992 edition of The Confessions of Nat Turner, Styron defends the work as a novel and distinguishes between “the roles of the historian and the novelist” (445). He says nothing about the influence of autobiographical writing, nor does he allude to any interest in the memoir” (A Mighty Clamor to Know”: Rhetorical Power and Memoir Fiction in Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner 49).
B. Zora Neale Hurston (quick bio):
- I suggest you watch at least the first ten minutes of this video and re-read the story. It will change the way you read it initially!
- Identity: what do we know about Zora’s identity development?
- What do we know about her opinion on race?
- What were your thoughts on her quick biographical story to be the colored me?