12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s drama starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Brad Pitt is set to release today, 18 October 2013. The film is based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup and his fight for survival and freedom during the pre-Civil War era in the United States.

However, the accuracy of Northup’s text is disputed. A recent article in the New York Times highlighted some of the scholarly arguments surrounding the anti-slavery genre. Here is a brief reading list to gather some background information on the film and this academic debate.

  1. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass, edited with an introduction by Deborah E. McDowell
  2. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory edited by Kenneth S. Greenberg
  3. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs, introduction by Valerie Smith
  4. Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave by William L. Andrews and Regina E. Mason
  5. Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy by Howard Jones
  6. Six Women’s Slave Narratives introduction by William L. Andrews
  7. The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel by Julia Sun-Joo Lee
  8. Slave Narratives after Slavery edited by William L. Andrews
  9. The Slave’s Narrative edited by Charles T. Davis and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Image credit: 12 Years a Slave image gallery (Cameron Cook)