This paper considers the history of transatlantic slavery that haunts early Canadian literatures by exploring the uneasy relationship between Susanna Strickland Moodie and the slave narrative, The History of Mary Prince (1831), for which Moodie acted as amanuensis. Rather than framing Moodie as a settler writer, this paper asks: how might the dominant discourse of English Canadian literature be revised if we understand her instead in a diasporic context? It traces a different trajectory for Canadian letters by considering the intertextual conversations between Roughing It in the Bush (1852) and Prince’s slave narrative, and explores Moodie’s erasures of early black presences from the Canadian landscape. This paper also considers how both Prince and Moodie resonate in contemporary black Canadian writers like Dionne Brand. By examining several of Brand’s works, I argue that her writing, in its refusal of many of the dominant discourses of Canadianness, becomes deeply implicated in them.
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