"Race and the Dramatic Monologue" Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Gregory, Melissa Valiska


  • Abstract: Throughout the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century, white poets on both sides of the Atlantic wrote hundreds of dramatic monologues in the voices of non-white speakers, particularly those of enslaved black people. This practice deserves more attention within critical studies of the dramatic monologue, especially as related to the literary expression of women’s anger. For white women authors in the nineteenth century, the dramatic monologue’s most central convention, the creation of a fictional or historical speaker radically different from the author, could be a liberating and exciting way to articulate a bitter social critique. At the same time, these white-authored poems written in the voices of angry black women also embed within the heart of the genre the distinctive and unreciprocated power of white voices to seize control over black ones. This dynamic suggests that the dramatic monologue bears a striking resemblance to the nineteenth-century minstrelsy show.

publication date

  • 2020

published in

start page

  • 213

end page

  • 218


  • 62