American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide



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WebQuest: The Abolitionist Movement

Overview: In this WebQuest, you will explore and understand the connections between Transcendentalism and the abolitionist movement. You will explore the key players in the abolitionist movement, with particular attention to the work of Frederick Douglass.

Step 1: Explore slavery, abolitionism, and the Underground Railroad.

To understand this crucial chapter in American history, explore some (or all) of the following links:

Abolition, Anti-Slavery Movements,  the Rise of the Sectional Controversy (Library of Congress)
Part 1
Part 2

Africans in America (PBS Series)
Judgment Day, Narrative, Introduction
Judgment Day, Narrative, From Coast to Coast
Judgment Day, Narrative, Antebellum Slavery
Judgment Day, Narrative, Abolitionism
Judgment Day, Narrative, Fugitive Slaves and Northern Racism
Judgment Day, Narrative, Westward Expansion
Judgment Day, Narrative, The Civil War
Judgment Day, Resources

African American History
African American Mosaic: Prominent Abolitionists (Library of Congress)
African American Mosaic: Conflict of Abolition and Slavery

Key Abolitionists
William Lloyd Garrison
David Blight on William Lloyd Garrison
Angelina Grimke Weld’s speech at Pennsylvania Hall

Underground Railroad
Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman
Levi Coffin’s station on the Underground Railroad
Literature and Life: From Slavery to Freedom

Step 2: Learn about the genre of the slave narrative.

"An Introduction to the Slave Narrative" (William Andrews)

For a look at other slave narratives, see these sites (this might help you to see how Douglass’s narratives differs from most):

First-Person Narratives of the American South
North American Slave Narratives
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940
Voices from the Thirties: Life Histories from the Federal Writers’ Project
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940

Step 3: Consider Frederick Douglass within the context of Transcendentalism.

Literature and Life: From Slavery to Freedom
Overview of Frederick Douglass
PBS  on Frederick Douglass
American Visionaries: Frederick Douglass
"The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" (Douglass speech)
Letter to Garrison from H.B. Stowe (about Douglass)

Essay Topic: Based on your understanding of Transcendentalism, as well as what you have learned about the abolitionist movement in the United States, write an essay arguing that Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass can or cannot be seen as a slave narrative written from a Transcendentalist perspective. Be sure to provide clear reasons for making your argument. You must cite passages and examples from Narrative as well as at least three of the websites included in the WebQuest.

"American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide" was produced by students in ENGL 446, American Transcendentalism, and ENGL 447, American Literature and the Prominence of Place: A Travel Practicum. These courses were team-taught in the Department of English at Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Spring 2002 by Dr. Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda Tate. For more information on the course and the web project, visit "About This Site." © 2003 Linda Tate.