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Grant number: FB-57753-14

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Frances R. Botkin
Towson University (Towson, MD 21252-0001)

Thieving Three-Fingered Jack: Circumatlantic Representations of a Jamaican Outlaw, 1780-2013

My project offers a cultural and literary history of the notorious bandit, "Three-Fingered Jack," a fugitive slave who terrorized colonial Jamaica for almost two years (1780-1781). A thief and a killer, he was also a freedom fighter who sabotaged the colonial machine until his grisly death at its behest. This project weaves together narratives from Britain, Jamaica, and the United States to examine the persistence of stories about this black outlaw who continues to resist classification or absolute judgment. For more than two centuries, culturally and politically diverse groups have "thieved" his riveting story, defining themselves through and against their representations of him. Jack embodies myriad possibilities for representation, despite the efforts of the colonial British to erase him. Stories about Jack contributed to the problematic cultural production of black masculinity in the nineteenth century Atlantic world, anticipating stories about later outlaws of mythical status.

Project fields:
Area Studies; British Literature; Literature, Other

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

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

Grant period:
1/1/2014 – 12/31/2014