Colonialism and its Aftermath

Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa (1745?-1797), Founding Father of Abolition

Book cover, Equiano the African

Vincent Carretta

Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa (1745?-1797), Founding Father of Abolition

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself was first published in London in March 1789. Equiano's Narrative is a spiritual autobiography, captivity narrative, travel book, adventure tale, slavery narrative, economic treatise, apologia, and argument against the transatlantic slave trade and slavery. Several modern editions are now available of his autobiography. Over the past thirty-five years, historians, literary critics, and the general public have increasingly recognized Equiano as one of the most accomplished English-speaking writers of his times, and unquestionably the most accomplished author of African descent. Historians of Africa and the transatlantic slave trade frequently cite as primary evidence Equiano's accounts of his life in Africa and his experience on the Middle Passage, the trip across the Atlantic to the Americas that enslaved Africans endured, though the truth of these accounts is now in doubt.

Date: Wednesday 20 May, 4pm
Where: English Common Room 555, Humanities Building

Dinner: Bay Leaf Bistro, 160 Sandy Bay Road, Sandy Bay.
RSVP 29 May to

Vincent Carretta is Professor of English at the University of Maryland, specializing in eighteenth-century transatlantic English-speaking authors of African descent. His recent fellowships include a W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research Fellowship, at Harvard University, 2004-2005, and a School of Historical Studies Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, 2003-2004. His latest book, Olaudah Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man (University of Georgia Press, 2005) was chosen co-winner of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 2004-06 Annibel Jenkins Prize for best biography of the year. It was also selected by the editors of as one of the ten best biographies published in 2005; chosen one of "The Best of the Best of the University Presses: Books You Should Know About" by the Association of American University Presses (2006); and rated by Foreword the best of the "Exceptional Books from University Presses" (2006).