Works In Progress

A presentation by English faculty of works they are preparing for publication.

Please join the Department of English as they present Works in Progress with Visiting Assistant Professor, Dr. Sam Tett.

The Bondwoman’s Narrative (c.1853) is both a retelling of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House (1852-53) and the fictionalized autobiography of formerly enslaved author Hannah Crafts. This talk situates Crafts’ novel within the context of Victorian psychology, paying particular attention to a forgotten scientific category called “double consciousness.” Dickens learned about this concept during his training as a hypnotist, which coincided with his writing of Bleak House. I show in this talk how Crafts adopts aspects of double consciousness from Dickens’ novel, transforming it through her narrator into what is perhaps the earliest psychological theory of racialized oppression in North America. I argue that though Crafts’ double consciousness is distinct from W. E. B Du Bois’ groundbreaking theory of Black double consciousness from 1903, it anticipates some of its central tenets as early as 1853.

Tuesday, January 10
4:10 p.m.
Olmsted Room, Mandelle Hall