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Frederick Douglass, “Niagara”

by Matthias Klestil

The article discusses Frederick Douglass’s “Niagara” (1843), a handwritten note in which the author describes Douglass’s first impressions of Niagara Falls. It argues that Douglass’s use of the sublime in the manuscript is significant as it exemplifies how nineteenth-century African American environmental writing could strategically deploy, transform, and politicize contemporary aesthetic modes. The note demonstrates potentials of (re)reading African American literature as nature writing that developed its own conventions for expressing relations to non-human nature.

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Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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