1st Edition

The Power of Neo-Slave Fiction and Public History From Slavery to the Enslaved

By Grant Rodwell Copyright 2024

    Professional historians, schools, colleges and universities are not alone in shaping higher-order understanding of history. The central thesis of this book is the belief historical fiction in text and film shape attitudes towards an understanding of history as it moves the focus from slavery to the enslaved—from the institution to the personal, families and feminist accounts.

    In a broader sense, this contributes to a public history. In part, using the quickly growing corpus of neo-slave counterfactual narratives, this book examines the notion of the emerging slavery public history, and the extent to which this is defined by literature, film and other forms of artistic expression, rather than non-fiction—popular or scholarly—and education in history in the school systems. Inter alia, this book looks to the validity of historical fiction in print or in film as a way of understanding history. A focal point of this book is the hypothesis that neo-slave narratives—supported by selective triangulated readings and viewings of scholarly works and non-fiction—have assisted greatly in re-shaping the historiography of antebellum slavery, and scholarly historians followed in the wake of these developments. Essentially, this has meant a re-shaping of the historiography with a focus from slavery to that of the enslaved. Moreover, it has opened new vistas for a public history, devoid of top-down authoritative scholarship.

    An important and provocative read for students and scholars interested in understanding the history of slavery, its harrowing effects and how it was culturally defined.


    Acronyms and abbreviations

    Chapter 1: From slavery to the enslaved: new paradigms, neo-slave fiction, a shared history and higher-order historical thinking

    Chapter 2 Slavery and the enslaved: breaking boundaries with neo-slave narratives

    Chapter 3 Antebellum neo-slave narratives, history and historiography: higher-order thinking and a public history

    Chapter 4 The enslaved, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction

    Chapter 5 Jim Crow and slavery’s immediate aftermath

    General conclusions


    Grant Rodwell is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at The University of Newcastle, Australia.

    "The human stories authentically leap from the pages eloquently in Grant Rodwell’s latest book. Painstakingly researched and brilliantly told… simply splendid!

    An account throughout that is sensitive, colourful and compelling. Composed yet again with rare skill by the remarkable man from Oberon. A book of dramatic sweep and great narrative strength."

    John Ramsland, Emeritus Professor, University of Newcastle, Australia