Sunday, December 7, 2008

Collective Responses to Douglass's Narrative

SIUE students are often and understandably unsettled by a scene early in Frederick Douglass’s Narrative when he describes his aunt receiving a beating from her master. For instance, Arné, a first-year student who participated in our summer reading program commented that:

I believe this scene was notable for me because of the shock I experienced when I read it. I had to re-read these pages to make sure I understood what was on the paper. Never in my life have I witnessed a family member being beaten. Yes, I have seen the occasional spanking as punishment for bad behavior, but I cannot imagine witnessing what Frederick Douglass did that day.

Many folks shared Arné’s sense of shock. Students in Professor Jessica DeSpain’s literature course, for example, read Douglass’s Narrative and provided one word responses to the scene that revealed they also found the beating disturbing. When we gathered their responses and reproduced them using a word cloud, we also begin to see various other ideas coming into view regarding the scene as well.

created at

No comments: