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In the revolutionary period of the eighteenth century, Britain's transatlantic colonies resisted political, social, and religious control in order to establish a government controlled by the people, which allowed freedom and equality for all citizens. However, this ideal form of freedom did not extend to women and slaves within the newly formed American colonies. Until the middle of the twentieth century, critics often have overlooked, or ignored, the erasure of female history and the crucial position women, regardless of race, occupy within the colonial and republican societies. This project aims to (re)examine race and gender within the Caribbean and early American context, reinstating the role and struggle of women. Aphra Behn, in Oroonoko, and William Earle, in Obi, reveal the potential threat and rebellious spirit of female slaves within the Caribbean. In The Coquette, Hannah Foster questions the freedom and equality of women in the republican society, and she draws a comparison between the republican marriage contract and the institution of slavery. Leonora Sansay's Secret History places two American women in the Caribbean to illustrate the importance of female community and collectivity in removing women from patriarchal control. Using the Haitian Revolution as her backdrop, Sansay uses the slaves' success to provide an example for women to follow. Americans, as former inhabitants of England, become Creoles in the American colonies, undergoing a process of creolization that resembles that experienced by Caribbean colonists. However, as the early United States formed its own independent nation, its citizens adopted British colonial ideology and, at the same time, distanced themselves from the perceived limitations of Creole subjectivity. This project attempts to illustrate this contradiction between the ideals of freedom and equality and the reality of the colonial and republican societies in the transatlantic colonies and to illustrate the influence and interconnection between Europe, America, and the Caribbean.
Aphra Behn, Female Communities, William Earle, Caribbean, Hannah Foster, Leonora Sansay, Gloria Naylor, Eighteenth Century, Transatlantic, Republican Mother, Body, Haitian Revolution, American Revolution, Early United States
Date of Defense
Date of Defense: June 4, 2007.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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