WAAAUB Holds First Ever International Convention: Commitment to AUB and Enhancing Ties among Alumni  
AUBMC Receives US Accreditation
Seven New Members to Join the AUB Board of Trustees
Establishment of the Michael Atiyah Chair in Mathematical Sciences at AUB
AUB Nutrition and Food Science Department Named as WHO Collaborating Center
Academic Excellence Rewarded: AUB's Merit Scholarships
AUB Announces New Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service
Shahe Kazarian's - Reflections of My I (Published by Cadmus Project: 2007)
Faculty Profile: Patrick Lewtas
Professor Mrad Lectures Abroad
Staff Profile: Ramzieh Saad
Essay Competition Honors Arab World's 'Prince of Poets'
Donald Mitchell Examines Control Over City Streets
The Political Consequences of American Romanticism
Juan Cole Points at Failures in United States
Scholar Studies Impact of Terrorism on American Imports
Ambassador Evaluates Role of United Kingdom in the Arab World
A View of Islam in the Eighth Century
The Need for Dialogue Between Religions
Istanbul's Pleasures Revealed
National Identity Without Citizenship?
On-line Workshops Help Train Journalists
Student Artwork Exhibited at Jafet Library
Amulets and Talismans at the AUB Museum
Living with Animals: To Prevent Torture and the Impact of War
Women's Auxiliary Holiday Luncheon
Home of Hope Orphans Tour AUB Medical Center
Italian Opera Recital at Assembly Hall
Strengthening Ukraine and Lebanese Relations with Music
AUB Music Club Concert
From Sufi Chant to Oriental Jazz
AUB Choir and Choral Society Celebrate Christmas
Benefit Christmas Concerts Help Ayadina Center
Red Cross Club Forms Human Ribbon
January 2008 Vol. 9 No. 4


The Political Consequences of American Romanticism

Professor Iris Leslie

Invited by the Prince al Waleed bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR), Professor Iris Leslie gave a lecture entitled "Political Consequences of American Romanticism" on December 13 in West Hall.

In essence, Leslie argued that Frederick Douglass, the author of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself, recognized the strategic value of American romanticism's rhetoric as a crucial means of achieving a political end, the abolition of slavery. She said that when slavery ended in 1862 and Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the romantic idealization of a vibrant freewill largely spurred the economic and political progress of African Americans in America.

Leslie described American romanticism as assigning the responsibility of determining personal destiny to the individual self, based on the "exceptional all-American perception of self-driven freewill." Given Douglass's recourse to "romantic rhetoric" in his glorification of personal will in his struggle for his own emancipation, Leslie said Douglass's Narrative became more of an anti-slavery treatise than merely a personal account of his experiences as a slave.

However, as he gained a more mature understanding of the social and political structures of the white American mainstream, Douglass realized that the "hard-sell and unadulterated sensibilities of romanticism" needed to be significantly mitigated in order for his narrative to achieve stronger political leverage and gain more expansive reach. Consequently, he downplayed the level of brutality in subsequent, less graphic versions of his narrative, while simultaneously underscoring the economic viability of freeing slaves in the speeches he gave around the country, including those to elite white businessmen interested in the abolitionist movement.

Leslie concluded that by recognizing the need to engage, rather than alienate, the white mainstream in the abolitionist cause, Douglass served his people well, succeeding where many of his contemporaries failed.

Leslie, who completed her PhD in political science at Rutgers University, has taught at Georgetown University, the George Washington University, and Rutgers University. She is currently working on a book, The Vicissitudes of American Romanticism, which will examine the resistance African American intellectuals have historically presented to mainstream American romanticism.