To begin our 3345 class, we were assigned to read the works of Jupiter Hammon. I was not familiar with Hammon’s work, but quickly read through his poems and letters. I was surprised, I suppose, as I did not expect the heavy religious tones in his work. I myself am not familiar with much Christian literature, so I found it a bit difficult to pull much information from his works. What did catch my attention, however, was his repeated usage of words such as salvation and redemption. I made the obvious connection of these words to religion, but I did not find much past that. The next class, however, a discussion on Hammon and his life gave me a holistic understanding of his work, and I felt like it was easier to understand. We discussed, for example, why Hammon uses religion so heavily in his texts. From my understanding of the discussion, I see Hammon’s usage of religion as a sort of metaphor to reach a specific audience. Hammon may feel as if he is able to elaborate upon his ideas and message more greatly if he uses religion as a way of relating to his audience. I found this very easy to relate to, as this method is very popular in today’s society. This target audience, I suppose, is easier to reach with information or jargon which they are accustomed to. A British sitcom, for example, will be marketed a specific way, very different from a show about cars. Aside from Hammon’s religious undertones, I found it particularly interesting that, though he was born in 1711, none of his writing was published until 1760. Also, I learned that he was a verna, or a slave that was born into slavery. Regardless of his status, he was educated with the children of his master, and was quite competent at writing. Dr. May referred to Hammon as one of the first black intellectuals, and Hammon’s popularity among his peers is very evident, especially in “An Evening Thought”. In the work, Hammon states, “it hath been requested that I would write some- thing more for the advantage of my friends, by my surperiors, gentlemen, whose judgement I de- pend on, and by my friends in general, I have had an invitation to give a public exhortation” (Hammon 24). Hammon’s words show the great influence and reputation he had among the intellectual crowd. I found this fascinating, as it is very uncommon to here of a slave in the 18th century being such a strong figure. After reading this, though, I read a bit more on Jupiter Hammon’s biography. I was again surprised to learn that he was never emancipated. Dr. May described Hammon’s long and faithful service to the Lloyd family, and noted several instances of the family acknowledging his great character. It must have been quite a feat to accomplish everything he has done while being in the position he was in. Regardless of his lifelong enslavement, Jupiter Hammon not only earned the respect of his peers, but also his owners.
Archive for January, 2013
For our first reading assignment, we read a blog post written by Dr. May himself. The post discussed various aspects of the controversial topic of electronic literature. Dr. May begins his article by speaking on the constantly growing problem of student’s being overwhelmed by reading assignments. Initially, I was very surprised on Dr. May’s stance on the issue, as he sympathizes with the student. I thought it was particularly interesting how he mentioned the student’s dilemma of attempting to read and balance the life expected from a college student. The most interesting part, I thought, was when Dr. May discusses how students tend to get caught up with reading as a sort of requirement to learn a specific fact, usually for a test or something of the sort. Of course, being a college student, I can very easily relate to this. I also agree that this is what reading in college has become. When I was younger, I loved to read, and spent many hours at the library. However, once high school started, I found reading became more of a hassle, and less of an escape. I almost always tried to find an excuse to get out of my reading, admittedly resorting to Wikipedia or Sparknotes on many occasions. This problem only grew larger in college, with many professors assigning lengthy and dry material, and expecting students to retain a completely random or asinine detail from it. It was until last semester, however, when I was allowed to return back into the more enjoyable and fulfilling style of reading. I took a few courses with Dr. Sasser, and she had very similar ideas to Dr. May of what reading should be, and what it has become. In fact, it was upon Dr. Sasser’s recommendation that I took this course. When reading the material in her courses, I not only felt as if I were reading for pleasure, but I also felt like I took more knowledge out of the reading itself. I am very much looking forward to the semester with Dr. May, as his views on reading and its future are very intriguing.