Allison Kathleen Lahl Humanities and Social Science
Unspoken Trauma: Narrating the Representation of Sexual Abuse in Harriet Jacobs' Slave Narrative
As a slave narrative, Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography bears the burden of truth telling demanded by this genre. However, this categorization has largely prohibited critics from fully addressing Jacobs’ utilization of fantasy, which becomes apparent in her seemingly unbelievable and fantastic portrayal of her protagonist’s ability to constantly thwart her master’s sexual advances. Continuing my exploration of fantasy in Jacobs’ text, I will spend this summer reading extensively in psychoanalytic theory in order to further articulate an argument that accounts for the work’s fictional aspects as a manifestation of psychological trauma. I will also research primary and secondary documents related to slavery, especially slave narratives, so as to better understand the genre and the tremendous implications of Jacobs’ break from it.