The Cosmopolitan Frame of Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative

Chapter
Part of the The New Urban Atlantic book series (NUA)

Abstract

In this final chapter, Cillerai shows how the emergence of cosmopolitanism in the ex-slave Olaudah Equiano’s writings reveals cosmopolitanism’s function a tool of empowerment and a tool to counteract the same forces that allow for its existence. The chapter shows that looking at the Interesting Narrative from this perspective does not simply reveal Equiano’s cosmopolitanism, it reveals a cosmopolitanism in the context of slavery and the colonial world. It reveals the power the language of cosmopolitanism offered figures like Equiano. Cillerai’s analysis of the opening chapters of the Narrative shows that Equiano rewrites the notion of captivity and roots it in cosmopolitanism rather than nationalism, thus freeing the enslaved subject from the social and cultural limitations slavery imposed on him.

References

  1. Andrews, William L. 1986. To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1769–1865. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aravamudan, Srinivas. 1999. Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency, 1688–1804. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 2001. Equiano Lite. Eighteenth-Century Studies 34: 615–619.Google Scholar
  4. Baepler, Paul. 2004. The Barbary Captivity Narrative in American Culture. Early American Literature 39 (2): 217–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berlin, Ira. 1996. From Creole to African: Atlantic Creoles and the Origins of African-American Society in Mainland North America. The William and Mary Quarterly 53 (2): 251–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ———. 1998. Many Thousand Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bolster, W. Jeffrey. 1997. Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail. Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Boulukos, George E. 2007. Olaudah Equiano and the Eighteenth-Century Debate on Africa. Eighteenth-Century Studies 40 (2): 241–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bugg, John. 2006. The Other Interesting Narrative: Olaudah Equiano’s Public Tour. PMLA 121: 1424–1442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ———. 2007 Deciphering the Equiano Archive: Reply to Vincent Carretta. PMLA 122: 572–573.Google Scholar
  11. Burnard, Trevor. 2006. Goodbye, Equiano, The African. Historically Speaking 7: 10–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burnham, Michelle. 1997. Captivity and Sentiment: Cultural Exchange in American Literature, 1682–1861. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.Google Scholar
  13. Carby, Hazel V. 2009. Becoming Modern Racialized Subjects: Detours through Our Pasts to Produce Ourselves Anew. Cultural Studies 1: 624–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carretta, Vincent. 1998. Three West Indian Writers of the 1780s Revisited and Revised. Research in African Literature 29 (4): 73–87.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 2000. Defining the Gentleman: The Status of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa. Language Sciences 22: 385–399.Google Scholar
  16. ———. 2003. Questioning the Indentity of Olaudah Equino, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. In The Global Eighteenth Century, ed. Felicity A. Nussbaum. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  17. ———. 2005. Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man. Athens: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 2007a. Response to Lovejoy, Burnard, and Sensbach. Historically Speaking 7 (3): 14–17.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2007b. Does Equiano Still Matter? PMLA 122: 571–572.Google Scholar
  20. Costanzo, Angelo. 1987. Surprising Narrative: Olaudah Equiano and the Beginnings of Black Autobiography. New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  21. Davidson, Cathy. 2006. Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself. Novel, A Form on Fiction 40 (1–2): 18–51.Google Scholar
  22. Dubois, Laurent. 2006. Social History 31: 1–14.Google Scholar
  23. Edwards, Paul. 1969. The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. London: Dowson of Pall Mall.Google Scholar
  24. Elrod, Eileen Razzari. 2001. Moses and Egyptian: Religious Authority in Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative. African American Review 35: 409–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Equiano, Olaudah. 2003. The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings, ed. Vincent Carretta. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  26. Gates, Henry Louis. 1988. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Gerzina, Gretchen Holbrook. 2001. Mobility in Chains: Freedom of Movement in the Early Black Atlantic. The South Atlantic Quarterly 100 (1): 41–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gilroy, Paul. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  29. Giunta, Edvige. 2002. Writing with an Accent: Contemporary Italian American Women Authors. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gould, Philip. 2003. Barbaric Traffic: Commerce and Antislavery in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Haslam, Jason, and Julia M. Wright. 2005. Captivity Subjects: Writing Confinement, Citizenship, and Nationhood in the Nineteenth Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jaros, Peter. 2013. Good Names: Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa. The Eighteenth Century 54: 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lovejoy, Paul E. 2006. Autobiography and Memory: Gustavus Vassa, Alias Olaudah Equiano, the African. Slavery and Abolition 27: 317–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. ———. 2007. Issues of Motivation—Vassa/Equiano and Carretta’s Critique of the Evidence. Slavery and Abolition 28: 121–125.Google Scholar
  35. Lowe, Lisa. 2009. Autobiography Out of Empire. Small Axe 28: 98–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Marren, Susan. 1993. Between Slavery and Freedom: The Transgressive Self in Olaudah Equiano’s Autobiography. PMLA 108 (1): 94–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Matar, Nabil I. 1996. The Traveler as Captive: Renaissance England and the Allure of Islam. LIT: Literature, Interpretation, and Theory 7 (2–3): 187–196.Google Scholar
  38. ———. 1999. Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  39. ———. 2001. Introduction. Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England, ed. Daniel J. Vitkus, 1–52. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Mignolo, Walter. 2002. The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism. In Cosmopolitanism, ed. Carol A. Breckenridge, Sheldon Pollock, Homi K. Bhaba, and Dipesh Chakrabarty, 157–188. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Patterson, Orlando. 1982. Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Potkay, Adam. 1994. Olaudah Equiano and the Art of Spiritual Autobiography. Eighteenth-Century Studies 27: 677–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sayre, Gordon. 2000. American Captivity Narratives. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.Google Scholar
  44. Sayre, Gordon. 2010. Renegades from Barbary: The Transnational Turn in Captivity Studies. American Literary History 22 (2): 347–359.Google Scholar
  45. Sekora, John. 1993. Red, White, and Black: Indian Captivities, Colonial Printers, and the Early African American Narrative. In A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America, ed. Frank Shuffleton. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Sensbach, Jon. 2006. Beyond Equiano. Historically Speaking 7: 12–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Snader, Joe. 2000. Caught Between Worlds: British Captivity Narratives in Fact and Fiction. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.Google Scholar
  48. Ugwuanyi, Ogbo. 2009. Olaudah Equiano and the Question of African Identity. In Olaudah Equiano and the Igbo World: History, Society and Atlantic Diaspora Connections, ed. Chima J. Korieh, 117–140. Trenton, NJ: Africa World.Google Scholar
  49. Vitkus, Daniel. 2001. Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Voigt, Lisa. 2009. Writing Captivity in the Early Modern Atlantic: Circulations of Knowledge and Authority in the Iberian and English Imperial Worlds. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. John’s UniversityStaten IslandUSA

Personalised recommendations