Rhetoric from the Margins: Juan Francisco Manzano’s Autobiografía de un esclavo

Document Type


Publication Date



© 2015 The Rhetoric Society of America. This article examines Juan Francisco Manzano’s Autobiografía de un esclavo, the only extant Spanish-language narrative written by a slave, to illuminate Manzano’s reception of rhetoric, or rather his rejection of it. This reception is briefly situated in the context of contemporary receptions of belletristic rhetoric within the Cuban literary circle that solicited Manzano’s life story. Additionally, the article brings rhetorical terminology to what critics have observed as Manzano’s developing agency through the process of writing his narrative and selecting its content. Providing a view of rhetoric from the margins, Manzano’s narrative offers a critique of the complex relationship between oral and written discourse and the slave’s ability to be seen as truthful.

Publication Title

Rhetoric Society Quarterly