FSC English professor
heads symposium on
Harriet Jacobs, 19th century writer and former slave
LAKELAND, Fla. (March
19, 2003) - Dr. Claudia Slate, Florida Southern College English
professor, will head the first Harriet Jacobs Symposium to be held
April 4-5 in Edenton, N.C., where Jacobs, a writer, abolitionist
and reformer, was born a slave in 1813.
Slate has spent two years planning the symposium and arranged for
funding through a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council.
The event marks the first time that scholars of history and literature
knowledgeable on Jacobs and her work, in particular, and slavery
in North Carolina, in general, have met for such a focused endeavor.
Humanities scholars, college students, middle and high school teachers
and students, and the people of Edenton and Chowan County will be
engaged in and encouraged to discuss the historical and literary
aspects of Jacobs.
The story of Jacobs' life, "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl:
Written by Herself," published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda
Brent, helped build Northern sentiment for emancipation during the
Civil War and was the only slave narrative to deal so frankly with
sexual as well as racial oppression. Literary critic Henry Louis
Gates says, "Jacobs's autobiography is one of the major works of
Slate, who has been teaching at FSC for 13 years, became interested
in African American studies and in the African American struggle
for freedom during her childhood in Mississippi. Her father was
a New York Times correspondent, and she was with him to observe
the beating of non-violent demonstrators in St. Augustine in the
summer of 1964. "As an English major in college, I found African
American literature rarely assigned," she said. "But by the time
I sought my doctorate in the 1980s, concentrating on Southern literature,
I focused on several works of African Americans in my dissertation.
I came to realize that the study of American literature is not complete
without knowledge of the contributions of African American writers."
For more information on the symposium, please contact Slate at 863-680-4342
About Florida Southern College
Florida Southern is a four-year, private, co-educational liberal
arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The college
offers more than 40 undergraduate majors and a master of business
administration degree accredited by the Commission on Colleges of
the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Located in Lakeland,
Fla., the college is home to the largest, single-site collection
of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world.