PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Virginia, M.A., 1990, Ph.D., 2000.
CAREER: Author and educator. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, associate director, 1998—, assistant professor, 2001—.
The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.
Contributor to books, including Jeffersonian Legacies, University Press of Virginia, 1993; and Media, Culture, and the Modern African American Freedom Struggle, edited by Brian Ward, University Press of Florida, 2001. Also contributor to journals, including Southern Cultures Two.
SIDELIGHTS: Scot French's research interests concentrate on race, place, and black life in the "Jim Crow South." French's book, The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory, is a study of how Turner has been portrayed in popular culture from 1831, when he led a slave revolt, to the present time. Under Turner's leadership, between fifty and one hundred slaves rose up against their Virginia masters. French notes that a witness, journalist John Hampden Pleasants, reported that Turner convinced the slaves to act by telling them that there were only 80,000 whites in the country and that blacks might be able to take control. In the book, French considers the Turner revolt's impact on abolitionist John Brown's failed 1959 attack at Harper's Ferry, and also discusses William Styron's controversial book Confessions of Nat Turner.
Reviewing The Rebellious Slave, critics felt that French offered significant insights about the portrayal of Turner throughout American history. Robert Parkinson wrote in the Virginia Quarterly Review that "understanding how Americans have shaped the image of the rebellious slave is as important as coming to grips with the Founding Fathers, whose inaction on the slavery question helped convince Turner that his method was just and necessary." A Kirkus Reviews writer called The Rebellious Slave "an illuminating exegesis on slavery and American popular culture alike."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2004, Vernon Ford, review of The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory, p. 1028.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of TheRebellious Slave, p. 1436.
Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 2004, Robert Parkinson, review of The Rebellious Slave, p. 254.
University of Virginia Web site,http://www.virginia.edu/ (August 11, 2004), "Scot French."*