For my final project, I will discuss the importance of slave autobiography in the American culture and what makes it stand until now. I will analyze the book The Narrative of Frederick Douglass as an enduring nature for audience appeal. At the same time, I will define the difference between the slave narrative and the conversion narrative in Frederick Douglass’s book. The Narrative of Frederick Douglass contains a lot of other slave stories that affect Douglass’s life in different ways. In fact, many people find these stories inspirational, and that what makes that book and that kind of genre stand up until now. Frederick Douglass’s life narrative contains a lot of lessons that can appeal as universal lessons that people around the world can benefit from and learn from it. The first lesson is that education is the first step for success. Frederick Douglass, in order to free himself, he started to learn how to read and write by himself, Douglass illustrates that education is “the pathway from slavery to freedom” (20). Another lesson that readers can find in the narrative of Frederick Douglass is the importance of the pursuit of happiness. And this lesson connected to the American value and to the declaration of independence in some way.


      The Narrative of Frederick Douglass is an excellent book in American literature. The book goes under the slave narrative genre, and there is a narrow barrier between slave narrative and conversion narrative. In the book “Reading Autobiography” by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, the authors define the slave narrative as “a mode of life narrative written by a fugitive of freed ex-slave about captivity, oppression-physical, economic, and emotional- and escape from bondage into some form of freedom” (280). On the other hand, the authors define conversion narrative as “a narrative that structured around a radical transformation from a faulty “before” self to an enlightened “after” self” (266). This narrow barrier that I mentioned before between the slave narrative and conversion narrative appears clearly in Fredrick Douglass’s life narrative.

I chose the Conference on College Composition and Communication to submit it to.


Annotated Bibliography

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Dover Publications, INC, New


This is my primary source. It’s about Frederick Douglass’s story that he wrote it by himself as his life narrative. Its talk about his slave experience and the ways led to his freedom. I will use this book as evidence of what makes the slave narrative, and this book especially still read until now.


Drake, Kimberly. “Rewriting the American Self: Race, Gender, and Identity in the

Autobiographies of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs.” MELUS, vol. 22, no. 4, 1997, pp. 91–108. EBSCOhost,


This book is about the purpose of slave autobiography and the writing rules of this kind of writing. The author used Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs as a sample of slave autobiography. The author illustrates the gender impact in this type of autobiography, and the impact of torture that slave got through upon their identity. The author discusses the “psychological development developed by Freud” and who is that related to identity development and language. This book will help me in my paper with the historical information that I can use in the article. The history of slavery and the history after freedom and that related to the slave narrative and the conversion narrative.


Franklin, H.Bruce. “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by

Himself: A New Critical Edition.” African American Review, vol. 44, no. 1/2, Mar.

2011, pp. 298–300. EBSCOhost,


This article illustrates the impact of slave narrative on people who are looking for success. The author discusses the critical lessons that readers can get from Frederick Douglass’s narrative, for example, the scene that Douglass illustrates that education is “the pathway from slavery to freedom” (20). It can apply the importance of education to everything in life, not only on slave fact, education is a pathway to mind freedom before body freedom. It’s a useful resource for my final project because it gave a real-life experience that can be related to Douglass’s expertise. And this is a big reason that makes the slave narrative stand until nowadays.


O’Connell, Julie. “The Power of a Slave Narrative.” Journal of the Assembly for Expanded

   Perspectives on Learning: JAEPL, vol. 21, no. 1, 2015, pp. 148–149. EBSCOhost,


This article discusses the importance of the slave narrative in American literature. Also, the author explains the significance of Douglass’s narrative in specific. This article gives some historical information about American literary history and the liberation movements. This information will help me in the final paper and give more explanation for the questions that I asked in the thesis about how the slave narrative stands up until now. This article illustrates the power of the slave narrative on readers.

Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson. Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life

 Narratives. University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

This book has a lot of explanations for all kinds of autobiography. I will use this book as a source for the definition that I will use to explain the difference between the slave narrative and the conversion narrative.


Trent, Noelle Nicole. “Frederick Douglass and the Making of American Exceptionalism.” Order

No. 3668063 Howard University, 2014. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 8 Nov. 2019.

In this dissertation, the author argues that “Frederick Douglass influenced the development of the American ideas of liberty, equality, and individuality.” I think this is an important idea that can be related to what makes Douglass’s narrative stan for readers until now. Also, the dissertation sees Douglass “more than simple humanitarian,” the author believes that Douglass is a believer of values, and that can be an answer for one of my thesis questions about the audience appealing to this type of narrative.