Historian James Oakes (The Graduate Center, City University of New York) addresses the timeless question of agency in emancipation—who freed the slaves?—by suggesting that the query demands greater nuance. The agency of slaves and the power of policy, he argues, depended on one another.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, chair of Afro-American Studies, director of the Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, and author of seminal works on African American literary criticism and history. The Bondwoman’s Narrative is the first publication of an 1850s manuscript, the earliest autobiographical novel by a fugitive female slave, Hannah Crafts. In this meticulously edited volume, Professor Gates persuasively authenticates the author and places the historical novel in context, bringing into view one of the most important lost texts in the African American literary tradition.