Manual Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing

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Interview with Christopher Hager, Author of Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you! Current Section: Duhaime. Emancipation Definition: The act of freeing a person who was under the legal authority of another such as a child before the age of majority from that control such as child reaching the age of majority.

But a few learned to use pen and paper to make sense of their experiences, despite prohibitions. These authors' perspectives rewrite the history of emancipation and force us to rethink the relationship between literacy and freedom. Hager seeks to craft an intellectual history of a people too often dismissed as illiterate and lacking a culture of letters. His focus is not on stars who are well known from fugitive slave narratives, but on a handful of more or less literate blacks whose previously unpublished letters provide pieces of a complex and rich narrative of liberation.

Hager discusses the mental process of writing, exploring the inner lives, secrecy, and subversion shown in black initiatives to learn how to write and how to use writing to end enslavement and to embrace emancipation.

African American Life Before and After Emancipation Essay | Bartleby

Hager reminds readers to attend to those texts that have the power to give scholars a broader perspective of particular moments By paying attention to these authors, Hager aims to develop new models for the interpretation of historical sources and give voice to both the unknown and the underappreciated. By understanding emancipation as a slow process rather than a rapid transformation, "Word by Word "shows how literacy was an incomplete and sometimes flawed instrument of black self-determination. The idea of emancipation as an unfinished revolution is not new, nor is the attention to subterranean networks of enslaved information and exchange particularly novel in slavery studies.

By rendering legible and audible the writings of the literate minority, however, Hager reveals the desperate and creative measures taken by former slaves to assert their communal and individual voices. Most of course continued unlettered, but the striking improvement in black literacy during the two decades after emancipation from 10 to 30 per cent is testimony to the enduring importance attached to the written word and the empowering potential of African-American writing. Constitution, "Word by Word" focuses on the initial tremors of freedom for ordinary people amid wartime turmoil and the process of emancipation.


This is original work of the highest order. Levine, author of "Dislocating Race and Nation: Episodes in Nineteenth-Century American Literary Nationalism" Christopher Hager does a fascinating job of sifting through these letters [written by slaves], fleshing out as much as possible the stories of their authors, and casting it all as black America's first attempts at forging a voice in this strange land, in "Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing. Christopher Hager is Charles A. Convert currency. Add to Basket.

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