177 Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Lesson Plan

Imani Barnhill; Wayne James; Rebekah Norton; and Justine Walsh


Key terms/phrases:

Rhetoric Justice Sexual Harassment Bystander
Civil War Era Religion Pro-slavery
Inequality Marriage Anti-slavery


Students will be able to:

  • Effectively communicate and convey original ideas about an assigned text.
  • Analyze different time eras and what they contributed to American History (Civil War).
  • Identify anti-slavery and pro-slavery rhetoric as used by the North and South, respectively.

Key Questions:

  • In the first ten chapters of Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl, what is suggested about religion, or more specifically, Christianity?
  • How did the South justify slavery to the North? What kinds of rhetoric did they invoke? (In other words, how did the South persuade the North into thinking slavery was morally and socially just?)
  • Historically, the North is portrayed as innocent bystanders in the midst of slavery. How is this factually incorrect? What actions, if any, did the North take that contributed to the prevalence of slavery?
  • What role did Southern white women play during this time period?
  • What role did marriage play in the book?
  • Why shouldn’t both races of women be judged?


  • Introduce video (about 15 minutes or so)
  • This video is useful because it gives a quick refresher about slavery and even includes some information that is not usually taught, like the contribution of the North in slavery.
  • Conduct fishbowl discussion (see handout) (20 minutes of discussion + 5-10 minutes of outer circle sharing)
  • This will promote discussion as well as new and/or revised ideas among students.
  • Kahoot
  • Kahoot is a well known and popular trivia game played among students. Engaging and slightly competitive activity that restores student participation, if needed.
  • Reflection (We took this time to address any questions.)
  • What can be taken away from this lesson?
  • How has this lesson impacted your understanding of the Civil War Era, Slavery, or sexual harassment?


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The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature: A PSU-Based Project Copyright © 2016 by Imani Barnhill; Wayne James; Rebekah Norton; and Justine Walsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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