Our Nig Research Papers

Our Nig Research Papers-18
Adams Wilson's Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) languished before its rediscovery by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Gates proved that Wilson authored the book and was a free African American. Pitts have uncovered evidence that the book is exceedingly autobiographical, Our Nig has remained a key text in African American studies because of its own fascinating story of a young, poor, nominally free black child's coming of age in the racist North, because of its place vis-à-vis the slave narratives of the period (as well as its place among texts by women), and because of the compelling story of its author.In part through the assertion that Our Nig was the first novel by an African American woman, he also actively advocated for its inclusion in the emerging canon of early African American literature. The book's stated purposes were much more modest—or, at least, much more personalized.Gates, ''and each of the chapters has a literary epigraph, ranging from Shelley to Solomon, each one aptly chosen.'' And although '' Our Nig'' resembles other mid-19th-century sentimental novels, it departs markedly from some conventions of the genre.

Adams Wilson's Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) languished before its rediscovery by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Gates proved that Wilson authored the book and was a free African American. Pitts have uncovered evidence that the book is exceedingly autobiographical, Our Nig has remained a key text in African American studies because of its own fascinating story of a young, poor, nominally free black child's coming of age in the racist North, because of its place vis-à-vis the slave narratives of the period (as well as its place among texts by women), and because of the compelling story of its author.In part through the assertion that Our Nig was the first novel by an African American woman, he also actively advocated for its inclusion in the emerging canon of early African American literature. The book's stated purposes were much more modest—or, at least, much more personalized.Gates, ''and each of the chapters has a literary epigraph, ranging from Shelley to Solomon, each one aptly chosen.'' And although '' Our Nig'' resembles other mid-19th-century sentimental novels, it departs markedly from some conventions of the genre.

The two aspects of her audience would have been blacks in the North and white abolitionists, and she undercut her own strength with them by writing about these two subjects, which were both taboo.'' Another taboo was the subject of interracial marriage, particularly between a white woman and a black man. Wilson portray the marriage of Alfrado's parents as having been a happy one ended only by the husband's death, but she also writes that the marriage was prompted by the black man's pity for the white woman, who is destitute and starving: he feels he is doing her a favor by asking her to marry him. Wilson shattered stereotypes in other ways as well.

'' That possibility was absolutely never talked about, because it was such an emotional issue for white racists,'' Mr. '' She was very well read,'' noted Mr.

To add 33 years to a tradition that young is a hell of a big leap backward, and it probably means there are other books we don't know about as well.'' Why the Obscurity? Gates was incredulous as he began to read '' Our Nig'' for the first time. The United States Census Records of 1860 confirmed that Mrs. Left with a white family in New England, the child is viciously mistreated by her mistress and forced to work as an indentured servant from the age of 5 or 6 until she is 18.

'' So many scholars have done so much research into the origins of black writing in this country that it seemed unlikely no one would have found it before,'' he explained. She is treated so brutally that her health is ruined for life.

Second, the man Alfrado marries is a black man pretending to be an escaped slave.

There was a big lecture circuit of fugitive slaves at the time, and Southern slaveholders were always claiming that these people were fakes.

Gates, a recipient of the Mac Arthur Foundation Prize award in 1981 and codirector of the Yale Black Periodical Fiction Project. Wilson was born in Fredericksburg, Va., in 1808, that she lived for some years in Philadelphia before moving to New England - probably around 1850, when the Fugitive Slave Law caused many former slaves to flee farther north or leave the country - and that she died in Boston, probably in 1870.

'' We thought the tradition of writing fiction for publication was 90 years old, since we knew a black woman had published a novel in 1892, but now we've moved that back to 1859. A Harrowing Story'' Our Nig'' is the harrowing story of Alfrado, the child of a mixed marriage whose white mother abandons her after the death of the child's father, a black man.

"Deserted by kindred, disabled by failing health," she has been forced "to some experiment"—writing the book—to aid "in maintaining myself and child" (p. That child, George Mason Wilson, was seven when Our Nig was published.

Throughout his youth, he and his mother were on and off the "Poor List" in Wilson's home of Milford, New Hampshire.

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