The Afro-British Slave Narrative: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Kairos of Abolition

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The dissertation argues that the development of the British abolition movement was based on the abolitionists' perception that their actions were kairotic; they attempted to shape their own kairos by taking temporal events and reinterpreting them to construct a kairotic process that led to a perceived fulfillment: abolition. Thus, the dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies used by white abolitionists to construct an abolitionist kairos that was designed to produce salvation for white Britons more than it was to help free blacks. The dissertation especially examines the three major texts produced by black persons living in England during the late eighteenth ... continued below

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Evans, Dennis F. December 1999.

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  • Evans, Dennis F.

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Description

The dissertation argues that the development of the British abolition movement was based on the abolitionists' perception that their actions were kairotic; they attempted to shape their own kairos by taking temporal events and reinterpreting them to construct a kairotic process that led to a perceived fulfillment: abolition. Thus, the dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies used by white abolitionists to construct an abolitionist kairos that was designed to produce salvation for white Britons more than it was to help free blacks. The dissertation especially examines the three major texts produced by black persons living in England during the late eighteenth centuryIgnatius Sancho's Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho (1782), Ottobauh Cugoano's Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery (1787), and Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789)to illustrate how black rhetoric was appropriated by whites to fulfill their own kairotic desires. By examining the rhetorical strategies employed in both white and black rhetorics, the dissertation illustrates how the abolitionists thought the movement was shaped by, and how they were shaping the movement through, kairotic time. While the dissertation contends that the abolition movement was rhetorically designed to provide redemption, and thus salvation, it illustrates that the abolitionist's intent was not merely to save the slave, but to redeem blacks first in the eyes of white Christians by opening blacks to an understanding and acceptance of God. Perhaps more importantly, abolitionists would use black salvation to buy back their own souls and the soul of their nation in the eyes of God in order to regain their own salvation lost in the slave trade. But ironically, they had to appear to be saving others to save themselves. So white abolitionists used the black narratives to persuade their overwhelmingly white audience that slavery was as bad for them as it was for the African slave. And in the process, a corpus of black writing was produced that gives current readers two glimpses of one world.

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  • December 1999

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  • Sept. 24, 2007, 2:24 p.m.

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  • April 4, 2016, 4:06 p.m.

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Evans, Dennis F. The Afro-British Slave Narrative: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Kairos of Abolition, dissertation, December 1999; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc2278/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .