Perspective on the Slave Narrative

This lesson covers the slave narrative from different perspectives - as a historical record, a piece of literature, political rhetoric, and as an autobiography. Great lesson plan with connections to reading, writing, and history.  Includes an assessment and extension component.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.10
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2
Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3
Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.6
Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2
Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7
Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.9
Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.9
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CLE 3003.6.1
Comprehend and summarize the main ideas of complex informational texts and determine the essential elements that elaborate them.
CLE 3003.6.2
Analyze the organizational structures of complex informational and technical texts.
CLE 3003.6.3
Read, interpret, and analyze graphics that support complex informational and technical texts.
CLE 3003.8.1
Demonstrate knowledge of significant works of American literature from the colonial period to the present and make relevant comparisons.
CLE 3003.8.2
Understand the characteristics of various literary genres (e.g., poetry, novel, biography, short story, essay, drama).
CLE 3003.8.4
Analyze works of American literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.
CLE 3005.6.1
Comprehend and summarize the main ideas of complex informational texts and determine the essential elements that elaborate them.
CLE 3005.6.3
Read, interpret, and analyze graphics that support complex informational and technical texts.
CLE 3005.8.1
Demonstrate knowledge of significant works of British literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present and make relevant comparisons.
CLE 3005.8.4
Analyze works of British literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.
SPI 3003.6.1
Discern the stated or implied main idea and supporting details of a complex informational or technical passage.
SPI 3003.6.3
Analyze the ways in which the organizational structure of a complex informational or technical text supports or confounds its meaning or purpose.
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.CS.6
Determine an author's point of view and/or purpose in a text, analyzing how style and content contribute to its effectiveness.
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.IKI.9
Analyze and evaluate a variety of thematically-related texts of historical and literary significance for their topics, facts, purposes, and rhetorical...
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.KID.2
Determine multiple central ideas of a text or texts and analyze their development; provide a critical summary.
TSS.ELA.11-12.RL.CS.6
Analyze how point of view and/or author purpose requires distinguishing what is directly stated in texts and what is implied.
TSS.ELA.11-12.RL.IKI.9
Demonstrate knowledge of and analyze thematically-related, significant literary texts, considering how two or more texts treat similar themes or topics.
TSS.ELA.11-12.RL.KID.2
Determine multiple themes or central ideas of a text or texts and analyze their development; provide a critical summary.
TSS.ELA.11-12.W.RBPK.9
Support and defend interpretations, analyses, reflections, or research with evidence found in literature or informational texts, applying grade band...
TSS.ELA.11.RI.RRTC.10
(For 11th Grade) Read and comprehend a variety of literary nonfiction throughout the grades 11-12 text complexity band proficiently, with a gradual...
TSS.ELA.11.RL.RRTC.10
(For 11th Grade) Read and comprehend a variety of literature throughout the grades 11-12 text complexity band proficiently, with a gradual release of...
TSS.ELA.12.RI.RRTC.10
(For 12th Grade) Read and comprehend a variety of literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 11-12 text complexity band independently and...
TSS.ELA.12.RL.RRTC.10
(For 12th Grade) Read and comprehend a variety of literature at the high end of the grades 11-12 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the slave narrative and its importance in the abolitionist movement
  • Gain experience in working with the slave narrative as a resource for historical study
  • Evaluate the slave narrative as a work of literature
  • Examine the slave narrative and other documents in the context of political controversy as an argument for abolition
  • Explore themes of self-actualization and spiritual freedom within the slave narrative
Essential and guiding questions: 
  • What role did the slave narrative have both in historical and in literary traditions?
  • How did William Brown’s narrative contribute to the abolitionist movement?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Understanding
Extension suggestions: 
  • There are many other slave narratives available through EDSITEment at the Documenting the American South website, including narratives written by ex-slaves in the years following the Civil War. Students might read Booker T. Washington's famous Up From Slavery to see how the slave narrative genre changes when the immediate political pressures that helped shape Brown's work are removed. (At the Documenting the American South website homepage, click on "North American Slave Narratives," then click "Collection of Electronic Texts." Scroll down to "Washington, Booker T." and select "Up From Slavery.")
  • Students might also compare Brown's written narrative to some of the oral narratives of slave times collected by Work Progress Administration archivists during the Great Depression, many of which are accessible through EDSITEment in the "American Life Histories" collection at the American Memory Project website. (At the website's homepage, click "Browse," then scroll down and click "Life Histories" to enter the collection. Click "Search by Keywords" and type the word "slave" into the search engine to retrieve a list of relevant oral histories.)
  • Further documentary material on slavery is available through EDSITEment at the following websites: Documents of African-American Women, Freedmen and Southern Society Project, and The Valley of the Shadow.
  • A comprehensive EDSITEment Curriculum Unit on Frederick Douglass's narrative is available at From Courage to Freedom: Frederick Douglass's 1845 Autobiography.

References

Contributors: