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Grant number: FA-56388-12

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Robert S. Levine
University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, MD 20742-5141)

The Lives of Frederick Douglass

Ranging from the 1840s to the present day, my book will provide a literary and cultural history of the lives and afterlives of Frederick Douglass. Unlike the typical biography, the book will be a "meta-biography" of sorts--a study of how U.S. culture has conceived, or invented, what I am terming the "lives" of Douglass. Douglass wrote three very different versions of his life (1845; 1855; 1881, rev. 1892). In this respect, Douglass himself offers us a warrant for thinking about his various "lives." From beginning to end, the book will thus also pay close attention to Douglass's canny acts of self-representation, whether in autobiographies, lectures and essays, or photographs. Douglass was a contradictory, complex, and performative figure who ultimately baffles efforts to reduce his life to a single story. In short, the book examines Douglass both in his own time and beyond, with the hope of offering new perspectives on Douglass and racial representativeness in the United States.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
American Studies

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2012 – 6/30/2013