Professor of English Publishes Article in the Journal Slavery and Abolition

Laurie Leach presenting at conference

Laurie F. Leach, Ph.D., professor of English, has published an article in the journal Slavery and Abolition, volume 40, issue 2, 2019. “Roots and the Trope of the Good Slaveholder examines the depiction of the white characters in the 1977 miniseries based on Alex Haley's book. While some viewers complained that Roots painted all the whites as bad and the blacks as good, and some critics argued that the sympathetic presentation of some white characters undermined the series' critic of slavery, Leach argues that the series relies on a strategic use of characters who can be described as "good slaveholder" figures. 

As in abolitionist literature, these characters gave the white audience someone to identify with initially while building empathy for, and interest in, the African American characters. Ultimately the idea of the "good slaveholder" is undermined as the series drives home the message that slavery could never be made good by even the most benevolent master, and that whites are morally obligated to support black freedom. 

Professor Leach is pictured presenting a working version of this paper at the Roots at 40 conference at Goodwin College in October 2017.