Frederick Douglass’s Utopia: Searching for the Space of Black Freedom

  • David Lemke


Very little research on African American utopianism extends into antebellum writing and overlooks the presence of utopian desire in slave narratives. This chapter examines the relationship between utopia and space in two of Frederick Douglass’s autobiographies, arguing that Douglass presents the desire for a better future as dependent on an appropriate space. It concludes with a reading of The Heroic Slave to demonstrate how his utopian desire continued to be expressed in fiction during his time as an abolitionist. While The Heroic Slave ends with a naïve endorsement of life in a British colony, it emphasizes Douglass’s continued attention to the role of space in fostering utopian desire while demonstrating the limits to his own utopian imagination about the space of black freedom.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Lemke
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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