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Into the Mouths of Babes: An Anthology of Children's Abolitionist Literature written by Deborah C. De Rosa

 

Into the Mouths of Babes: An Anthology of Children's Abolitionist Literature written by Deborah C. De Rosa

Overview:

While most people know that Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous book Uncle ToM's Cabin spurred on abolotionist sentiments in the North, not many are aware of the vast abolitionist literature of children's books, poems, short stories, and essays. Many of these volumes were not written by seasoned authors, but by women whose primary roles were as mothers who functioned as domestic abolitionists, and have been lost to the ages. Here, De Rosa recovers a collection of these writings, illustrating the domestic abolitionists' efforts

While most people know that Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous book Uncle ToM's Cabin spurred on abolitionist sentiments in the North, not many are aware of the fast abolitionist literature of children's books, poems, short stories, and essays. Many of these volumes were written by domestic women, not seasoned authors, and have been lost to the ages. Here, De Rosa recovers a collection of these writings, illustrating the domestic abolitionists' efforts when cultural imperatives demanded women's silence. These women asserted their anti-slavery sentiments through the voices of victims (slave children and mothers), white mother-historians, and abolitionist children in juvenile literature, one of the few genres available to female authors of the period. This collection restores the voices of these little known authors and shows how their voices helped to influence children and adults of the period.

For women struggling to find a voice in the abolitionist movement while maintaining the codes of gender and respectability, writing children's literature was an acceptable strategy to counteract the opposition. By seizing the opportunity to write abolitionist juvenile literature, domestic abolitionists maintained their identities as exemplary mother-educators, preserved their claims to femininity,and simultaneously entered the public arena. By adapting literary strategies popular in nineteenth-century juvenile narratives, domestic novels, and slave narratives to document slavery's violation of religious, economic, and political principles, these women spoke out against and institution that stood in marked contrast to the beliefs they held so dear. This anthology aims to fill the important gap in our understanding of women's literary productions about race and gender and illustrates the limitations of a canon that excludes such voices.

Synopsis:

19th century American women were not supposed to have political views, much less air them in public. Women abolitionists found a unique way to participate in the public debate over slavery by writing about the subject in children's literature. De Rosa (English, Northern Illinois U.) has recovered such works from the 1820s to 1850s and has assembled them in this scholarly volume. Biographical information and analysis (when available) is included for each author, followed by the author's stories, poetry, hymns, or excerpts from longer pieces of fiction. Black & white reproductions display original illustrations, and a list of selected libraries that own original editions of works in the anthology are included. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

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Title: Into the Mouths of Babes: An Anthology of Children's Abolitionist Literature

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