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Space and Place in Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016)

Space and Place in Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016)

Baillie, Justine ORCID: 0000-0002-0056-9155 (2017) Space and Place in Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016). In: 27th Annual British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference, 16-17th February 2018, Desota Savannah, Georgia, USA. (Submitted)

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In African-American writing, the American neo-slave narrative brings a new understanding of dystopias in the re-imagining of actual, material and lived dystopia created by the institution of slavery.  In addition to debating the nature of freedom and how it can be achieved, the excavations of social and economic realities found in neo-slave narratives reclaim the lived experience of the past and hold them up to the light of the present, allowing us to recognise continuities and to confront the possibility that we are simply repeating history. In this essay, I read Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (2016) as dystopian fiction that offers utopian possibilities, if not for the community, then at least for the individual. In his dystopic neo-slave narrative, Whitehead draws on the pattern of the original slave narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs and transcends the form both by signifying on the literary tropes of the Gothic and in his steam punk evocations of the fantastical juxtaposed with lived experience.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: slave narratives, utopia, dystopia, Afrofuturism, science fiction, signifying
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2018 16:45

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