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A New Language

In class today, Dr. Stockton said that she was surprised that more people (or, in fact, any people at all) hadn’t expressed a greater appreciation for “An Empire for Slavery”, by Campbell, after we had ridiculed Galland so extensively during our readings of her. I thought about that today after class, trying to decide if I did enjoy the cut and dry, factual, impersonal language of Campbell more than the overly emotional and memoir-ic account of “Love Cemetery”. My answer: yes. I did enjoy the facts. I liked learning about the true events that happened in Texas’ not so squeaky clean past. Did I like the language it was written in? Not necessarily. Lillie brings up a very good point about the impersonal, consumer lingo that is presented and the harshness of that language. In a way it makes the reader approach the text and the facts as if they didn’t really happen, or if they did, they didn’t happen “here”. But I have been trying to think of a way in which you could take that emotion from Galland and apply it to the facts found in the “Empire” text… and I don’t know if it is possible. I think that Campbell speaks in the language that was spoken during the time of Slavery, he applies the terminologies of possession and property because those were the words used to describe enslaved humans at the time of enslavement. However, today that language is disturbing and distancing. But can we become less distanced without getting too close?

In my Feminist Ethics class we read an article about the history and fluidity of Feminism and the struggle that people have with expressing the ideals and definitions faced in feminist studies. It is impossible to use the same language as was used when Feminism first became popular because feminism itself is not the same. However it is hard to use today’s language because of the patriarchal definitions or ideologies that are tagged with that terminology. The article then stated that it was necessary to, therefore, create an entirely new language in which to discuss the feminist movement of today. I think that the ideas above can be applied to the modern day study of Slavery in Texas. We can no longer use the old terminology because of the harshness it implies, but nether can we apply the new terminology because of the extreme pathos it brings with it.

What would the new language of slavery be like? Would that indeed fix the large problems we see with both these texts, which to us appear to be on the extreme opposite ends of the language spectrum? Who knows.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    This is something that hits home with what I left class thinking about as well. Even when Galland tried to incorporate some historical context in her account it still did not seem to make it any less emotionally appealing. You have a great point and I agree that there are certain pros and cons about each of the accounts that seem ideal if we make them compliment each other in some way, “less distancing without getting too close.” I hope that this is not impossible like you say you believe it is. If it is, I hope it is because the right person has not come up with it yet. It is interesting to think about what such an account would sound like if someone were to find a happy medium between the two.

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