Representations of American Slavery in Post-Civil Rights Fiction and Film

Author: Dacey-Groth, Camilla E.
This study discusses representations of slavery in post-civil-rights fiction and film as reflections of public policy and opinion concerning race in the United States. These texts and films are used to discuss the twentieth-century historiography of slavery, tying together popular culture and historical studies to important political and cultural events and trends.


“Dacey-Groth’s study of the broader context and the debates surrounding fictional works on slavery and its legacy not only expands the chronology of earlier studies on this important subject, its focus on the works of African American authors that were read by a large and primarily white audience also makes an important contribution to the historiography. By focusing on the interrelationship of fiction, the memory of slavery, and racial politics in the United States, Dacey-Groth forces students of memory to reconsider the complexities and ambiguities of popular culture in the in the process of memory production.” – Prof. Simon Wendt, University of Heidelberg

“By focusing on how slavery was presented in various forms of popular culture, Dacey-Groth is able to provide new insights into how representations of the peculiar institution continue to affect the ongoing negotiation of race in American culture. As Toni Morison has astutely argued, race is the American story and the Africanist presence is everywhere in American culture--where we expect it and where we do not. Similarly, as Dacey-Groth demonstrates here, no representation of slavery in the late twentieth century can be understood outside the context of the tortured renegotiation of race demanded and constructed by the civil-rights movement.” – Prof. Philip G. Terrie, Bowling Green State University

“The readings she offers of individual works are solid and well supported by up-to-date scholarship. Wisely, she has included several genres and has distributed the historical focus of each chapter so that African American experience since slavery is embedded in the book.” – Prof. Eric J. Sandeen, University of Wyoming

Table of Contents

Foreword by Simon Wendt
1. The Debate over William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner
2. Margaret Walker’s Jubilee: Celebrating the Survivors of Slavery
3. Racial Realism in Ernest Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
4. Alex Haley’s Roots and the Afrocentric Idea
5. The Changing Image of Thomas Jefferson
Conclusion: The Debate Surrounding Reparations for African-Americans