top of page

English 175, Hidden Town:

Slave Narratives, Global and Local 

Three years ago Wake Forest's “Slavery, Race and Memory Project” started work to “guide the research, preservation, and communication of an accurate depiction of the University’s relationship to slavery and its implications across Wake Forest’s history.” Questions about the relationships between Universities and the enslaved people whose unpaid labor they profited from are impacting campuses across and beyond the US South, from Georgetown students starting a reparations fund to the existence of a Universities Studying Slavery consortium. But in thinking about the multitude of ways that Wake Forest has profited from slave labor we will also look beyond our campuses and to the broader community, or the history of Winston-Salem. We will do this by considering not just a series of the most famous slave narratives ever written but by turning from those famous stories to local narratives and accounts of the lives of enslaved people in Salem, NC. And we will do this by working with Old Salem’s Hidden Town Project: a groundbreaking initiative that works to research and reveal the history of a community of enslaved and freed Africans and African Americans who lived in “Old Salem.” Ultimately students will contribute to, working in groups to produce documentaries that help bring this material to life.

Course Texts

Additional readings are posted on Canvas.


  • To learn about both the history of slavery and the genre of the slave narrative

  • To improve close reading skills

  • To produce, support, and revise argumentative essays

  • To shape, script, and create documentary films

  • To become comfortable engaging with both primary sources and literary criticism

  • To understand the difference between analytic writing, reflective writing, and storytelling 

  • To know how to write for both public and scholarly audiences

  • To share and collaboratively develop ideas about literature, history, and your own writing

  • To respond to and incorporate feedback 

  • To create polished work by revising repeatedly

  • To develop digital literacy in a multimodal world

Learning Objectives   

Course Schedule and Classroom:
Section A: MW 12:45-2, Room 1505, Wake Downtown
Section B: MW 2:15-3:30, Room
 1505, Wake Downtown
A brief note on learning in the present moment:
We’re all working in the midst of a prolonged state of emergency, and I understand that. This is a time for empathy, this is a time for flexibility, and my goal is not to police your learning but to create the best environment I can for enabling you to learn. If you find that you are in crisis, I will work with you.  


See Course Policies and Campus Resources here.
For more information see

Schedule of Readings

I. Background: Context, Famous Narratives, & Basics for Documentaries 

January 9:  Introduction to the course and to each other 

January 11: Introduction to documentary filmmaking and equipment


January 16: No Class: MLK Day

January 18: Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Preface – Chapter 10)

January 23: Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Chapter 11-Appendix)

                     Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” 

January 25: Shooting Techniques 

January 30: Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (XXVI – Appendix)

February 1: The Art of Interviewing 


February 6: Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Preface – XXV)

February 8: Introduce Documentary Projects 

February 10: Submit Paper Topics

II. Research


February 13: MESDA Tour and Introduction to Documentary Topics

February 15: Consult with your assigned librarians and archivists

February 20: Guest Speaker: Ivan Weiss, Documentary Filmmaker

February 22: Review Research & Make Working Groups 


February 27: Research Meetings in Working Groups

March 1: Discuss Treatments

March 3: Critical Response Due 

March 6: Spring Break

March 8: Spring Break

III. Writing and Filming


March 13: Draft Interview Questions 

                  Discuss Production Book 

March 15: Work with Working Groups 

March 20:  Work-in-progress presentations for treatment drafts 

                   Pitch to Old Salem’s Learning in Place Team

March 22:  Finalize Treatment 


March 27: Discuss Scripts

March 29: Discuss Scripts


April 3: Discuss Scripts

April 5: Script Workshop


April 10: Interviews  

April 12: Interviews  

April 17: Film at MESDA

April 19: Film in other venues (MUSE Winston-Salem, Peter Oliver Park, Old Salem) 


April 24: Reflections, Evaluations, and Plans for Editing

April 26: If Needed: Additional Filming 

May 3: Submit final projects by 5 PM.

May 4: Submit reflective writing by 5 PM.

Screen Shot 2020-07-04 at 10.14.05
bottom of page