The Role of Literature

I wanted to share with a recent essay about the work that literature can do in the world by Stanford English professor Shelley Fisher Fishkin (she goes on to mention Frederick Douglass):

We live in a nation plagued by historical amnesia, by a tendency to sanitize troubling chapters of the past. Ironies that should be front and center in our national memory are often airbrushed out of the history books in our nation’s classrooms — like the fact that America was “founded” by genocidal robbers on land stolen from the people who were there before them. Or that we are a nation established by slaveholders on principles of individual liberty. Or that after the Civil War, America effectively re-enslaved the freed slaves for the next hundred years through sharecropping, lynching, and the convict-lease system.

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