Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2014

Department 1



Scholars often attempt to construct collective ideologies in order to generalize the beliefs and views of entire populations, with one target population frequently being the African American community during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, doing so fails to recognize the individuality of the population’s members and, especially in the case of the country’s oppressed Blacks, establishes a system where assumed notions and ignorant ideas abound. One might argue that the popularity of the book of Exodus in the time’s African American expressive outlets indicates that there did exist a collective ideology based upon the biblical narrative. However, when one examines the black community’s varied implementations of the book of Exodus in the spirituals sung during the Civil War and the poetry published in the years following it, it becomes apparent that not every member of the time’s African American community adhered to a collective ideology. Rather, they formulated their beliefs based on their own unique circumstances that did not necessarily adhere to the Bible’s text, demonstrating their individuality and refuting any theory that suggests there was a universal black consciousness.


English Honors Thesis