Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, and US Slave Narratives in Translation in East Asia

Joe Lockard, Shih Penglu, Myungsung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


The paper presents a conceptual map of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese translations of Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, and Solomon Northup from 1920 to the present. It considers the problems and advantages of a regional East Asian translation history, including issues of internationalism, sharing mass traumas and resistances, ideological misappropriation, reader reception, and de-centering analytic binarisms. The paper then turns to paratexts to discuss the numerous translations of Washington’s Up from Slavery, particularly the social development messages these translations sought to promote throughout East Asia. Given declining reader interest in Booker T. Washington in the twenty-first century, it then examines the more recent popularity of Frederick Douglass in translation editions as a symbolic leader of resistance against slavery. A conclusion addresses the East Asian translation history of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave and the contemporary status of translated slave narratives as a global commodity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-340
Number of pages24
JournalTranslation and Literature
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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