Broken English, broken morality: English as virtue in Equiano's interesting narrative

dc.contributorBeidler, Philip D.
dc.contributorSimmons, Merinda
dc.contributor.advisorSmith, Cassander L.
dc.contributor.authorCaddis, Samantha Simmons
dc.contributor.otherUniversity of Alabama Tuscaloosa
dc.descriptionElectronic Thesis or Dissertationen_US
dc.description.abstractThe Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written By Himself, is one of the earliest and most widely published slave narratives. It is an abolitionist text as well as a conversion narrative. Equiano, a cultural hybrid, has two major conversions that mirror each other in the text: his conversion to evangelical Christianity and his conversion to speaker and writer of English. In early transatlantic literature, non-native speakers of "proper" English are often portrayed as virtuous while speakers of "broken English" are portrayed as barbarous. I argue that English language acquisition in early transatlantic literature is a significant marker of whether the audience is meant to view a person of color as a "savage" or as a "noble savage." If a character can speak and write English fluently, then he or she is likely to have assimilated in other ways as well, thus furthering the probability that he or she can fit the European idea of "good." If a character continues to speak "broken English," it is a sign of resistance to English colonization and, thus, "bad" moral character. I also argue that Equiano uses his newfound religion and language to establish himself as a moral authority on slavery. By convincing his English readers of his conversion to both Christianity and English, he is able to situate himself in the sympathetic "noble savage" category, thus garnering sympathy for his abolitionist cause.en_US
dc.format.extent50 p.
dc.publisherUniversity of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.hasversionborn digital
dc.relation.ispartofThe University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartofThe University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.rightsAll rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.en_US
dc.subjectAmerican literature
dc.titleBroken English, broken morality: English as virtue in Equiano's interesting narrativeen_US
dc.typetext of Alabama. Department of English University of Alabama's