Patterns of Positioning: On the Poetics of Early Abolition. By Carsten Junker. Heidelberg, Germany: Universitätsverlag. 2016. xv, 515 pp. $60.00.

Focusing on both canonical and noncanonical texts before 1808, when the United States abolished the African slave trade, this study situates abolition as a series of formalized practices shaping abolitionist discourse. Junker draws from methods introduced in Stephen Toulmin’s Uses of Argument (1958) to analyze forty-eight topoi, or argumentative structures, as well as narrative figures and generic frames, in order to illustrate how these frameworks transform both the abolitionists and the enslaved. The book focuses on how “strategies geared toward overcoming structural inequality potentially reified such inequality and allowed for the personal self-aggrandizement of those who publicly denounced slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.”

Mark Twain under Fire: Reception and Reputation, Criticism and Controversy, 1851–2015. By Joe B. Fulton. Rochester,...

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