Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Jordan Alexander Stein

Second Advisor

Paul Youngquist

Third Advisor

Nan Goodman

Abstract

Titled “David Walker’s Appeal and Everyday Abolition” this thesis uses book history methodologies to reconstruct the pamphlet’s overlooked uses. Where many scholars highlight radical and revolutionary tendencies, I explore archival evidence that seems unassimilable to these critical positions. Instead, this thesis mobilizes marginalia, gift exchanges, archival acquisitions, and printing records to paint a different reception history of Walker’s Appeal. I suggest that this evidence points toward a non-sensational, ordinary side of Walker’s pamphlet. By considering the variegated “situatedness” of Walker’s Appeal, the thesis probes a larger idea of “everyday abolition.” This capacious term gathers ordinary, minor, and non-sensational abolitionist practices. “David Walker’s Appeal and Everyday Abolition” argues that ordinary practices—gifting, preservation, private reading—constitute an understudied, undertheorized, and politically significant elements of antebellum literary history.

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