Department Chair

Lorna Perez, Ph.D., Acting Chair and Associate Professor of English

Date of Award


Access Control

Campus-Only Access

Degree Name

English, M.A.


English Department


Barish Ali, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English

Department Home page

First Reader

Barish Ali, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English

Second Reader

Jennifer Ryan-Bryant, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English and MA Coordinator


In many slave narratives and fictional representations of slavery, white mistresses are often misrepresented or completely forgotten. They are frequently portrayed as vindictive, malicious, and jealous or authors and scholars fail to include them. It is incredibly rare when slave narratives include the white mistresses let alone portray them in a positive light and include their achievements in the abolition movement. Many white mistresses supported and fought for abolition because they shared a similar desire for equality with slaves. They recognized and witnessed many of the injustices slaves faced on a daily basis and decided to take action. Many mistresses that supported abolition used their essential resources to help slaves achieve freedom. These vital resources include the power associated with their skin color, money, shelter, transportation, and food.

Although many authors fail to include the stories of female abolitionists in their novels, Sue Monk Kidd and Sherley Anne Williams use their neo-slave narratives, The Invention of Wings and Dessa Rose, to tell the extraordinary tales of three white female abolitionists. Kidd and Williams depict slavery through the often nonexistent white female perspective. Both The Invention of Wings and Dessa Rose challenge the common stereotypes of white women in slavery as well as show the essential resources mistresses used to help slaves achieve freedom, and how white mistresses served as witnesses for the slaves. By examining neo-slave narratives such as these, scholars and authors will hopefully be encouraged to continue researching and fighting for the mistresses of slavery.

Note: To access this document you must have a Digital Commons account using a valid Buffalo State email address or be accessing the internet through the Buffalo State campus network.