Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Cedric Reverand

Description

In the early nineteenth century, after a long struggle led by William Wilberforce, Parliament officially abolished the slave trade. This drastic change in the British Empire’s practices, which was at the time the global leader economically, socially, and militarily, impacted the entire world. What was going on in eighteenth-century British thought and culture that such an old and economically productive institution was made illegal? The purposes of this thesis are to look at the role of poetry in the late eighteenth century abolitionist agenda, to examine Hannah More’s and Anne Yearsley’s slave trade poems specifically for how they portray slaves and the slave trade in order understand the contemporary ideologies regarding slavery, and to explore possible motivations behind More’s and Yearsley’s slave trade poetry.

Comments

Oral Presentation, Honors Program

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Poetry and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

In the early nineteenth century, after a long struggle led by William Wilberforce, Parliament officially abolished the slave trade. This drastic change in the British Empire’s practices, which was at the time the global leader economically, socially, and militarily, impacted the entire world. What was going on in eighteenth-century British thought and culture that such an old and economically productive institution was made illegal? The purposes of this thesis are to look at the role of poetry in the late eighteenth century abolitionist agenda, to examine Hannah More’s and Anne Yearsley’s slave trade poems specifically for how they portray slaves and the slave trade in order understand the contemporary ideologies regarding slavery, and to explore possible motivations behind More’s and Yearsley’s slave trade poetry.