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English 175, Hidden Town:

Slave Narratives, Global and Local 

In Recent Years 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 related research papers and creative projects that bring this material to life.

Course Texts

Additional readings are posted on Canvas.


Assignment details are or will be linked to each title.

  • To learn about the history of slavery

  • To learn about the genre of the slave narrative

  • To improve close reading skills

  • To produce, support, and revise argumentative essays

  • To engage with both primary sources and literary criticism

  • To develop creative responses to a pressing matter of concern

  • To write and create for both public and academic audiences

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

  • To respond to and incorporate feedback 

  • To create polished work by revising something repeatedly

  • To develop digital literacy in a multimodal world

Learning Objectives   

Course Schedule and Classroom:
Section D: MW 12:45-2, Room 1505, Wake Downtown
Section E: MW 2:15-3:30, Room
 1616, 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.  

I ask, in turn, that you be aware of the very real possibility that we may have to shift to online learning. If that is the way things develop I'm prepared to pivot, and we'll meet as a full class on Mondays but in discussion or project groups on Wednesdays. 

For the time being, however, I suspect we can stay the course.

For more information see
Please Read Course Policies and Campus Resources here.

Schedule of Readings and Assignments

I. Famous Narratives in Context 

January 17: Introductions to Slavery at Wake Forest and to each other  

January 22: Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Preface – Chapter 10)

January 24: Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Chapter 11-Appendix)

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

January 29: Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Preface – XXV)

January 31: Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (XXVI – Appendix)


February 5: Tour of MESDA 

          Harriet Jacobs at MESDA: Press Release

          Footage from in-progress-documentary, shared on Canvas 

February 7: Dave the Potter couplets and background 

       “Hear Me Now," Exhibit on Edgefield Pottery at the Met

        Introduce Critical Response Papers 

February 12: Critical Response Topic Workshops

February 19: Critical Response Draft Workshops 

February 23: Critical Responses Due at 5 PM

II. Hidden Town Research 

February 14: Introduction to your Hidden Town Projects & Objects 

                       Sensbach, A Separate Canaan: The Making of an Afro-Moravian World, Introduction 

                       Ferguson’s God’s Fields, Chapters 1 & 10

                       Two Research Guides from

February 19: Critical Response Draft Workshops 

Febraury 21: Introduction to Hidden Town by Martha Hartley, co-chair of the project.

                       The Lebenslauf (i.e. life story) of Abraham, along with other materials (155-171) 

                       Peter Oliver Script 

February 23: Critical Responses Due at 5 PM

February 26: Conducting Hidden Town Research

                       Do some preliminary research on your topics

February 28: Zoom Meetings to Discuss Your Research  


March 4: Consult with Project Manager

March 6: Zoom Meetings to Discuss Proposals  

March 11: No Class: Spring Break

March 13: No Class: Spring Break

III. Hidden Town Scripting & Filming


March 18: Introduction to Digital Essays and Adobe Rush with Brianna Healey.

March 20: Small Group Meetings: Sign up here.

March 25: Work-in-Progress Presentations 

March 27: Small Group Meetings: Sign up here.

April 1: Pitch your ideas to Old Salem’s Learning in Place Team: sign up here.

April 3: Introduction to Filming & Lighting 

April 8: Draft Workshops: Scripts

April 10: Create Shot Lists for Filming


April 15: Film at Old Salem

April 17: Conduct Interviews 


April 22: Film at Old Salem

April 24: Conduct Interviews 

April 29: Individual Meetings with Editors  

May 1: Draft Workshops: Digital Projects 

May 3: Submit Final Projects by 5 PM.

May 4: Submit Reflective Writing by 5 PM.

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