LARB Book Club — Summer 2023

August 16, 2023 5:00 pm


August 16, 2023 5:00 pm


August 16, 2023 5:00 pm


LARB Membership Required

LARB Book Club featuring Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and edited by Koritha Mitchell

Wednesday, August 26, at 5 PM PST, via Zoom

LARB Members, Register Here

All members are invited to join us and purchase a copy of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl at a bookstore near you. Visit the Reckless Reader page to see if your local store is a participating member and offering 10% off.

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In 1861, Harriet Jacobs became the first formerly enslaved African American woman to publish a book-length account of her life. In crafting her coming-of-age story, she insisted upon biographical accuracy and bold creativity—telling the truth while giving herself and others fictionalized names. She also adapted conventions from two other popular genres: the sentimental novel and the slave narrative. Then, despite facing obstacles not encountered by white women and Black men, she orchestrated the book’s publication and became a traveling bookseller in an effort to inspire passive Americans to support the abolition of slavery.

Engaging with the latest research on Jacobs’s life and work, this edition helps readers to understand the magnitude of her achievement in writing, publishing, and distributing her life story. However, it also shows how this monumental accomplishment was only the beginning of her contributions, given her advocacy work over the nearly forty years that she lived after its publication. As a survivor of sexual abuse who became an advocate, Jacobs laid a foundation for activist movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. This edition also features six appendices, placing at readers’ fingertips resources that further illuminate the issues raised by Jacobs’s remarkable life and legacy.


“Koritha Mitchell is a brilliant literary historian and theorist. With breathtaking sensitivity to the forces, conditions, and places in Jacobs’s life, Mitchell breathes new life—and brings deeper understanding and refreshing insight—into this classic narrative. Though it is over a century and a half old, through Mitchell’s keen critical lens, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains relevant and impactful. Black women’s lives and letters are in the very best of hands with Professor Koritha Mitchell.” —Imani Perry, Princeton University


Koritha Mitchell is a literary historian, cultural critic, and professor of English at Ohio State University. She is the author of the award-winning book Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930, and her edited edition of the first book-length autobiography by a formerly enslaved African American woman, Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), will be published in June. Her public commentary has appeared in outlets such as Time, CNN, and Good Morning America, and her book From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture was named a Best Book of 2020 by Ms. Magazine and Black Perspectives. On Twitter, she’s @ProfKori.