Artistic Responses to the Zong Massacre (1781)

Oil painting depicting an overturned slave ship in a storm-tossed sea

J. M. W. Turner, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Resource Description

Suitable for introductory or humanities survey courses, this module offers teaching resources for a unit on the 1781 Zong massacre. It focuses on artistic responses to the massacre and on how the massacre is a representative event of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The module includes artworks and texts that could be used in the classroom, discussion questions and activities, and a culminating writing prompt. This module invites students to reflect on the gaps in the colonial archive and to think about the role of art and literature in shaping understandings of historical events. It also provides students with an opportunity to recognize how the dehumanizing logic of slavery shaped modernity and how black artists challenge its legacy through their work.



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Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra

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Magali Armillas-Tiseyra is an Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Penn State-University Park. Her research centers on African and Latin American literatures, with a focus on the intersection of large-scale comparative frameworks, such as World Literature and the Global South, with local and regional specificities. Her first book, The Dictator Novel: Writers and Politics in the Global South, was published by Northwestern University Press in 2019. You can learn more about Dr. Armillas-Tiseyra on her faculty profile page.

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Robin Mary Bower

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Robin Bower is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Penn State Beaver. A medievalist, Bower’s primary research area is the emergence of vernacular romance verse in the Spanish Kingdoms of medieval Spain, particularly as those forms engage with inherited Latin traditions through remembrance, contestatory citation, and disavowal. Her interest in the politics of cultural memory extends to contemporary texts, as well as to this project. Her book, Making Saints of the Past in Medieval Iberia, is currently under review.

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Tembi Charles

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Charles is a 4th year Dual Title PhD candidate in Comparative Literature and African Studies at Penn State University. Her areas of expertise include sub-Saharan African Literature, Postcolonial Literatures, Theory and Criticism, Poetry and Poetics and Eco-criticism.

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Janet M. Neigh

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Neigh is an Associate Professor of English at Penn State Behrend. Her research interests include Caribbean studies, global modernism, postcolonial feminist theory, and poetry of the Americas. She is the author of Recalling Recitation in the Americas: Borderless Curriculum, Performance Poetry, and Reading (University of Toronto Press, 2017).

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