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Title: Layers of freedom: a philosophical analysis of 19th-century North American Literature
Author: Vela Serrano, Laura  
Tutor: de Pablo Martínez, Amanda  
Keywords: freedom
North American Literature
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)
Abstract: In this thesis, the concept of “freedom” is explored from a philosophical perspective to understand its evolution since Aristotelian times and discern what form it took in North America during the 19th century. Through the elaboration of political documents at the very end of the 18th century such as the Declaration of Independence (1776) or the US Constitution (1788), this country’s ideals were stated on paper, yet they were far from being applicable to all citizens. After the turn of the century, slavery was still allowed in many states, and its eradication towards the second half thereof meant a complete shift that would change North America’s mindset forever, even if its traces are still visible nowadays. The thorough analysis of two key literary texts in the US panorama –Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience (1849) and Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) – provide the reader with two very distinct perspectives of living during these troubled times, where only some avoided the every-man-for-himself mentality. The audience that their testimonies reached revealed how contradictory rights could be and became eye-opening for many: freedom was not as straightforward as it seemed, let alone universal.
Language: English
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