What’s in an English Word

The English language has changed over the centuries but one thing that hasn’t changed is its forceful domination over counties even today. My Norwegian cousin is strictly taught English in school but in my school it was optional to take a class to learn about a second language. Why is English mandatory for her but Norwegian not for me? As the world virtually becomes smaller it is crucial for younger generations to become fluent in several languages, The United States is very behind on this as demonstration on not being strict about learning even a second language. English should not be a one superior language and as other countries educate their students to learn English, English speakers as well should put in some work to learn theirs. The United States is also home to an assortment of immigrants from places some American students can’t point out on a map, let alone learn about their language.

Although Johnson defines origins of the alphabet, “A, the first letter of the European alphabet, has, in the English language, three different sounds, which may be termed the broad, open, and slender” that seems informative but can easily block out subordinate origins of languages and show where true language comes from. This is a separation tactic so there is no comparison or mix up of an obviously dominant language and other languages that do not compare. English had and has help from many other languages in its development, although it seems to still be a confusing language with rules like i before e except after c. It has borrowed and manipulated other words from other languages and sometimes not even changed them but pretended like they were their own; I thought piñata was English until my first grade Hispanic friend explained the word to me. People that do not speak English as a dominant language can see through the rose tinted glasses while people that do speak only English still just don’t get it even today.


— Alison Vining

Extra Credit

The presentation reminded me of the cartoons used for the most recent blog post assignment. In the cartoon, there were two shores, on one shore was the British in a seemingly dire situation due to lack of jobs and multiple political struggles going on at the time. On the opposing shore, an African community is enjoying life. On the British shore, one man attempts to look at the Africans using a telescope to see what is truly going on over there. Naturally the cartoon itself is a statement regarding slavery but, change it ever so slightly and it makes a perfect correlation to the presentation, which was regarding climate change and endangered species.

Turn the British shore into a shore of factories from any part of the world with, say, lumber mills and such along with an extremely tall tombstone with the word “endangered” at the top. It would represent the steady decline of climate across the world due to air pollution and lumber mills cutting down forests, allowing endangered species to die off. On the opposite shore however, which this can be confusing since I said every part of the world could pertain to the factory side, is a bustling forest. In this case it would be the reserve that is under construction in New Zealand as a way of keeping at least part of the island safe from invasive species. On this shore, endangered animals could roam without worry of being extinct and the climate is near perfect. It’s the perfect description of Globalization of companies vs. The fight against climate change.

Eco-Violence: The Genocide of Germination


After attending Professor Robert Markley’s lecture, “After Sustainability: The (Future) Histories of Climate Change,” on Monday afternoon, I couldn’t help but draw connections between the sort of issues he was discussing in terms of “eco-violence” (or violence against the environment, especially plant-life) and the different forms of colonial oppression that we have been encountering time and time again, in every work we read in this class.

One of the most interesting aspects of Markley’s lecture was the controversy over what does stability really mean? Especially in an English course, diction is important. According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) sustainability means: The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level OR avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. I take the time to point this out, to illustrate to you how this word that is  so readily thrown around in various forms of rhetoric actually explains very little about how to achieve its means. This is a utopian word, which sounds great in concept, but is an island away from practical application in most senses.

That is not to say “sustainability” is not an admirable goal, or even an essential one, but the means necessary to bring that utopian ideal into realistic existence cannot be accomplished by spotting speeches and padding pamphlets. Even in “ideal” circumstances, or under the best conditions, in order to obtain “sustainability” in one area, sacrifices must be made in another. In fact, many times efforts made to “save the planet” or to improve the environment backfire in unexpected ways. For instance, in the lecture Markley mentioned that redwood trees had been transplanted to New Zealand, whose volcanic soil promised three times the average rate of growth. However, due to this fast development, the bark of the trees did not mature in the typical fashion and ended up being too soft to be useful.

Many oppressors of the environment, like those of people, seem to have rhetoric which implies that they are doing the landscape a favor by making necessary improvements. Like many foreigners in “savage” lands (since the ways in which the area had developed, or been “cultured” was unknown and not understood by them) they decided it must be backwards and in need of being “liberated” from itself. Many forests have been cut down, marshes drained, foreign species (primary grasses and crops) planted all under the guise of “cultivation.”

Does this rhetoric sound familiar? It should because we have been reading about it all semester! Does it sound religious? Kind of like the religion justification similar to “the divine right of kings” that Johnson uses when he makes the dictionary, essentially “weeding” out the words that weren’t quite up to his standards. Kind of like the thought process of the Houyhnhnms (highly educated horses) in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel’s, who advocate for the wiping out of entire species (in this case humans) in order to maintain “balance.” More recently we see ideas of “cross-pollination” at the end of Equiano’s narrative when he poses the solution of intermarriage as a way to “eradicate” African heritage and “breed” in European culture.

This is a running narrative that still continues today and is being propagated by officials in our country, the United States of America, who seem incapable of drawing inter-disciplinary connections between the uprooting of invaluable resources in terms of both people and the planet. Hopefully this blog will help some of you also see the way in which these running narratives of oppression are not only cultural issues in terms of people, but also the planet at large, making them truly global concerns. Unfortunately, oppression is a fundamental aspect of co-existence, whether it be between two clashing groups of people, or humankind and the planet. The sooner we accept this in all its various forms, the sooner we can make a conscious effort to create a society that actually supports sustainability.

Elle Lammouchi

Cruikshank pro Slavery

The 1826 satirical cartoon from Robert Cruikshank is seen as a pro slavery and anti abolitionist piece of artwork.  The image appears to be pro slavery because of the subtle clues and details of the cartoon. For example these anti slavery theme is seen in the placement and actions of europeans in the scene, the liveliness of the tide and the natives in the background. Most of the prominent europeans in the cartoon are satirical depictions of abolitionist. These depictions are displayed as corrupt and they appear to be distorting how slavery appears to others. The abolitionist with his back to the viewer has a sign in one hand and a buy off check in his back pocket. Having one of the abolitionist be displayed as corrupt shows how Cruikshank made this piece to be clearly pro slavery. In Cruikshank’s cartoon one of the abolistinst is holding a picture of a slave being flogged by a white man in front of a telescope pointed at peaceful natives waiting on the shore for the slave ships. Also, The abolitionist holding up the picture appears to be cursing god, i see this because his facial expression and how he holds his palms face up to the sky.

This picture is in direct contrast with the ideas and views in The Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano. This narrative discuss  the grim and downright inhumane reality of the west indies slave trade.  The purpose of creating this narrative was to show the british the reality of the slave trade, in hopes that parliament will abolish it. Equiano show these motives when he writes, “But is not the slave trade entirely a war with the heart of man? And surely that which is begun by breaking down the barriers of virtue involves in its continuance destruction to every principle, and buries all sentiments in ruin!” (Equiano 110). This perspective from equation shows how wrong Cruikshank’s pro slavery image is. Cruikshank’s pro slavery perspective stems from the economic advancement and prosperity that the slave trade creates. Equiano rejects this idea because he feels that the white man should not profit off the backs of African people.

-Conor Morgan

In-class student blog comments

In-class blog comments exercise (15-20 minutes):

  1. Choose ONE of the four student posts (hyperlinked below) that presents an interesting perspective you never considered.
  1. In the post’s comment box, answer the following question: What is the most original idea presented in this post and how could the student’s interpretation be improved? (3-4 sentences will suffice)

Student blog posts:

1. Daniel Corral: https://english102literaturesurvey.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/the-extended-roots-of-slavery/

2. Sara: https://english102literaturesurvey.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/equianos-internalization-and-his-subsequent-qualification-of-bulls-satricial-cartoon/

3. Katie: https://english102literaturesurvey.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/6607/

4. William: https://english102literaturesurvey.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/the-bad-middle-route-equianos-grave-mistake/




“Out of Focus”



“How comes it that all the white men on board who can read and write, and observe the sun, and know all things, yet swear, lie, and get drunk, only excepting yourself?”(188).  This passage while a rational question to ask, implicitly exposes the contradiction and hypocrisy that an Indian chief’s son witnesses and points out to Equiano amidst the Englishmen.  The young man, though seen as a “poor heathen” -as described in Equiano’s words, appears not be fooled by the fog of Christian rhetoric that they use to control natives and slaves.The young man’s clear point of view is, essentially illustrated,  within Robert Cruickshank’s anti-abolitionist cartoon.

Being that Equiano had tried to Christianize the young man, even to refer to the English author John Fox’s work Book of Martyrs, the young man became extremely confused with was being preached to him versus the corruption that was being displayed before his eyes.  Cruickshank’s cartoon is, too, confusing and hypocritical.  The red herrings found within that cartoon were cleverly placed there as propaganda to deter people from seeing the ugly truth about slavery -to continue to nurture the ignorance that caused people to go with the status quo of pro-slavery, in the first place.

The biggest conflict and contradiction is Equiano’s sense of allegiance in believing he must help the young man’s disbelief of Christianity.  Just like Cruickshank has attempted to persuade the people from not believing that slavery is even happening, Equiano is doing the same toward the young man’s state of mind about corruption in religion.  

While Cruickshank’s behavior cannot be excused, the conclusion to his way of thinking can only be sheer ignorance.  Equiano’s, on the other hand, is reprehensible as he knows first hand the experience of being enslaved, as well, the act of his cries going unheard -or worse, ignored.  

Cruickshank has skewed the focus on the lens for the audience who he knew he could bamboozle, and Equiano tried to do same with the young man, but failed.  Still, it did not affect Equiano much as he carried on with more undertakings and more missions, all while taking on his own slaves to help build plantations he’d come to own.  Thus, there is not much of a difference between the lies that are placed in the cartoon to the lies Equiano lived.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez


Unshackling the Drawing

In McLean’s monthly sheet of caricatures No.32, there is a vivid outreach for sympathy to the European on the left of the image. The faded, dull colors, the fragile chair, and expression of hardship make the viewer believe people of color already have a prosperous lifestyle. A lifestyle better than the Europeans is argued as well from observation. To the right, we can see ripe fruit, unity of a community, vibrant colors, and an overall image that is a vacation. We also see a walking baby which is a happy moment for a family and it also shows that the baby is in good health. Whites feared that slaves would revolt and retaliate against them (Equiano 17-18). Incorporating slaves into a free society was a fear for many whites. However, all is not paradise as it seems. “It was very common in several of the islands for slaves to be branded with the initial letters of their master’s name…make them seek refuge in death from those evils which render these lives intolerable” (Equiano 99). Truly horrific must be the conditions for someone to want to take their own life in order to receive some sort of salvation. The drawing I feel is perceived to make it seem as though slavery is humane and that the Europeans face hardships at time in order for the slaves to be comfortable. Katie shared a great link from “The Guardian”, added below. Henry Smeathman spoke before the Lords of the treasury of an idea to send back black people to Sierra Leone. Smeathman made it seem as if it was the best deal in the world to head back to Africa’s Sierra Leone.”One of the most pleasant and feasible countries in the known world” – Sierra Leone’, Smeathman made it sound like there was certain refuge and safeguard. It angers me because many of us are certain that by sending blacks back to Africa, they can easily be kidnapped again and sent to the West Indies, or somewhere less forgiving: “will find a certain and secure retreat from former suffering”(Schama) is just smoke and mirrors for the wealthy lords who mean well wanting to abolish slavery. They are just unknowledgeable of what really would occur.

So to tie it in to Equiano’s view, he is not fond of sending them back. Similar to John Annis, his friend from St. Kitts, Equiano knew that harm was certain. Like the lawyer that took his money and did nothing, the similar thing happened for the funding to supposedly take care of the people heading back to Sierra Leone. I feel Equiano changed his approach toward the ending of the book only because he was talking to a European audience so it was in his best interest to sound a bit nicer than he probably really felt about the issue. In addition, the grammar in the cartoon shows the black conversation to be very poorly constructed. Ignorance and poor education is evident. Although the cartoon intends to depict pro slavery, many abolitionists were simply unguided and did not know how to make the proper decisions. Intermarriage was also a radical idea at the time like Equiano suggested so I doubt that intermarriage would have been widely accepted. The white abolitionists were simply misguided.



-Daniel Estrada

Equiano’s Abolition

The first painting, John Bull Taking a Clear View of the Negro Slavery Question, questions the motives of abolition, asserting through subtle political cues that abolitionists are “in it for the money.” The man who claims it is a sin to buy anything other than East India sugar has stock in the East India company. Where the Africans are seen dancing, there is a trick in place to make them appear tortured, to make the general populace agree: slavery should be gotten rid of.

In many ways, this straw-man critique of “oh hey look, abolitionists are bad” can actually be targeted at Equiano. Equiano is one of the abolitionists who wants to see slavery removed for economic reasons. Equiano says “a commercial intercourse with Africa opens an inexhaustible source of wealth to the manufacturing interests of Great Britain… The abolition of slavery, so diabolical, will give a most rapid extension of manufactures, which is totally and diametrically opposed to what some interested people assert.” Here Equiano takes the slavery question, the torturous, “diabolical” act of slavery, and calmly, casually, looks at the question and provides an answer to the question. Equiano says, “listen. If we stop the slave trade, we get to go to Africa, colonize that too, and increase our manufacture. Nobody wants to trade with the diabolical masters. Even if you think slavery is good for industry, you’re thinking small scale, plantation size. Let’s go big scale. Let’s think on a continental scale.”

In this way, Equiano partially exemplifies the abolitionists in the “Clear View” painting. He is the money driven abolitionist who is more economic than moral, but he is not the emotionally manipulative, East India stockholder. He is a calm, rational, money-driven ass.

-Ross Koppel


Equiano’s Truth

In Robert Cruikshank image we can see a lot of things going on that can suggest either a pro or anti slavery message. As we get closer into the image we can see a lot of little scenes that illustrate what Cruikshank is trying to say. In the right side of the picture we can see what appears to be an island full of natives who seem to be minding their own business. On the other island or boat we can see what appears to be the europeans discussing and making assumptions about the natives from far away. The island is full of auctions, petitions and images all dealing with the natives while they are primarily concerned with themselves on their own island. I believe the  image isn’t pro or anti slavery rather anti-abolotionism as Cruickshank pokes fun at their ideals as they show illustrations of slaves being whipped and tortured on the walls of the building asking for signatures on a petition to abolish slavery. They are also using these images to obstruct the view from the telescope looking onto the island suggesting that these images are not the truth and the abolitionist are simply obstructing the facts.

Even if the illustration was suggesting that the abolotionist strenchted the truth, there’s enough evidence in Equiano’s narrative to justify abolitionism. People like Cruickshank can argue that conditions are not as bad as they are portrayed to be and claiming that abolotionism is still favoring white abolitionist is absurd. Equiano writes in his narrative about the time he was seperated from his sister:

“It was in vain that we besought them not to part us; she was torn from me, and immediately carried away, while I was left in a state of distraction not to be described. I cried and grieved continually; and for several days I did not eat any thing but what they forced into my mouth.”

No argument made by anti-abolitionist can justify the cruelty that was endured by the slaves. They were seen crying for their families and even committing or attempting suicide but the slave owners continued the practice for their own economic advancement. The illustration critiques abolitionist for their hypocrisy but in people but what the is saying more than that as the illustrator is demonstrating how slave owners were still being incredibly cruel to the natives by stripping them of their families and the land they knew and grew up on. If the argument the illustration is making is simply that torture is not occurring and its a front to abolish slavery, it wouldn’t justify the capture and taking of innocent people from their homeland and the separation and destruction of their families. Equiano’s narrative tells us what actually happened and how someone who went through it actually felt which makes it a much more power primary source  when compared to this illustration from the same period that lacks specific information and solid evidence.

-Noel Nevarez

Double Consciousness in Equiano

The topic of slavery has always had aspects of sentimentality attached to it, but this political cartoon of the 19th century politicizes the implications it had on the demographic of the countries affected by the slave trade. More than anything, it shows the economic impacts it had on the poor Irish in America in addition to the commercial interest of The East India company. In other words, some of the domestic outcry was that abolitionist movements were not exactly the most benevolent organizations in the ending of slavery since they were being paid by the corporate interest of the East India Co. Money is always in part of the equation when it comes to parties of opposing opinions. While this cartoon implies the rhetoric of abolitionist movements was to appeal to the sentimentality of Americans, the maker of this cartoon is ironically appealing to his audience by using the pathos of the audience regarding the Irish refugees. In Olaudah Equiano’s narrative, he appeals to the sentimentality of the reader as well, but he also uses a type of bias rhetoric to appeal to his readers, largely white. In volume 2, chapter 6, he cites a quote of one of the people that he served to appeal to white readers about his own docile sensibility in order to avoid alienating white readers. The person who oversaw Equiano says, “I consider him an excellent servant. I do certify that he always behaved well, and that he is perfectly trustworthy” (193), and this removes any hostility away from his confronting of the question of slavery. Furthermore, he is, as W.E.B. Dubois would say, putting a “veil” on his own subjectivity by seeing himself as an inherently second-class citizen. By doing so, he is assimilating to the culture of whites in Britain, but not assimilating their full citizenship. This is also emphasized when he alludes to his own slaves as his “poor countrymen” and “poor creatures” when he implies that he will not be there to watch over them (193-194). In effect, he is placing yet another layer of marginalization by lowering his own slaves even further from full citizenship. Equiano is using the benefit of his freedom and economic status to bring himself closer to full citizenship, but he is exploiting the status of his own slaves to imply a sort of hierarchy over them by claiming ownership. However, as Dubois would say, he also has a double consciousness that allows him to see through two lenses of subjectivity: white and black. Although he is trying to exploit his status of freedom, he is also empathizing with his fellow “countrymen” to advocate for the better treatment of them. On one hand he is dehumanizing them by elevating his status, but on the other he is also using sentimentality to appeal to the readers about the better treatment of slaves.

–Cesar R