James B. Salazar

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20092010 Forum on Connections

James B. Salazar

Asst Professor of English, Temple University

Captivating Arabia: Echoes of the Barbary Captivity Narrative in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture

My project examines an overlooked nexus of intercontinental connection in the nineteenth century: the Barbary captivity narrative. Written by American sailors, diplomats, and travelers captured and enslaved by North African “pirates,” Barbary captivity narratives not only fascinated readers with their exoticized portraits from the crossroads of Middle Eastern, African, and European cultures; their provocative accounts of “white slavery” also incited new forms of commercial activity, military intervention, and cultural contact between the U.S. and North Africa. My project makes visible the role this alternate network of transatlantic exchange played in the formation of national culture in the U.S., while also rethinking literature’s imagined capacity to establish connections across social divisions within cultures as well as between cultures.