Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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Tied to meaning-making, narratives are saturated with political relevance. Narratives do political work on both the individual and collective levels. To achieve a comprehensive understanding of the political work performed by a given narrative, both the historical context and local context must be analyzed. This paper uses a comparative dialogic analysis derived from M. M. Bakhtin to illuminate the different types of political work that narratives can accomplish. I compare two slave narratives, each recalling an incident of violence against a slave. Although the narratives describe similar events, their portrayals of slavery differ greatly because of the different political work they perform in their respective contexts. One narrative, produced in conjunction with the abolitionist movement, serves as a piece of political propaganda that frames slavery in an uncompromisingly harsh light. The other narrative, taken from a WPA interview in the 1930s, reveals narrative as a site of political conflict between blacks and whites during the Jim Crow era.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Bakhtin; Dialogic analysis; Political work; Slave narratives
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