Afterimages of Slavery

Essays on Appearances in Recent American Films, Literature, Television and Other Media

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About the Book

Since the election of President Barack Obama, many pundits have declared that we are living in a “post-racial America,” a culture where the legacy of slavery has been erased. The new essays in this collection, however, point to a resurgence of the theme of slavery in American cultural artifacts from the late twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Ranging from disciplines as diverse as African American studies, film and television, architectural studies, and science fiction, the essays provide a provocative look into how and why slavery continues to recur as a trope in American popular culture.
By exploring how authors, filmmakers, historians, and others engage and challenge the narrative of American slavery, this volume invites further study of slavery in its contemporary forms of human trafficking and forced labor and challenges the misconception that slavery is an event of the past.

About the Author(s)

Marlene D. Allen is an associate professor of English Literature at United Arab Emirates University and has published several articles on African American literature, especially speculative fiction.
Seretha D. Williams is an associate professor of English at Augusta State University in Georgia, where she has also served as the interim director for women’s studies and the coordinator for minority advising.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Marlene D. Allen and Seretha D. Williams
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 242
Bibliographic Info: 4 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6464-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9016-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Part I. Reading and Writing Slavery
Meditation, Misremembering, Creativity, and Healing in Zakes Mda’s Cion
SERETHA D. WILLIAMS      7
Black Women’s Ghostly Re-visions of History
JOANNE CHASSOT      18
Inhabitants of Borderlands: (An)other World of Subjugation
ULA GABRIELLE GAHA      35
“If I Allow Myself to Listen”: Slavery, Historiography, and Historical Audition in David Bradley’s The Chaneysville Incident
NICOLE BRITTINGHAM FURLONGE      55
Tricksterism, Masquerades, and the Legacy of the African Diasporic Past in Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber
MARLENE D. ALLEN      76
Written on the Walls: Reflections of Shifting Definitions of Slavery and Self in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy
EUGENIA P. BRYAN      89
The Laveau Folk Heroine: Contemporary Fiction Revises the Slave Narrative
TATIA JACOBSON JORDAN      110

Part II. Visualizing and Positioning Slavery
Hottentot Venus: Unsettling the Linear Time of History and Science
Ž ELJKA Š VRLJUGA      126
Hollywood’s White Legal Heroes and the Legacy of Slave Codes
KATIE ROSE GUEST PRYAL      145
The Slave’s Cabin: From the Back of the Big House to the National Register of Historic Places
ANGELITA REYES      164
“Commence the Great Work”: The Historical Archive and Unspeakable Violence in Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner
JONATHAN W. GRAY      183
A Comic Routine: The Place of Slavery in Identity Formation for the Twenty-First Century
LAURA MAE LINDO      201
The Slavery of the Machine
ALEXIS HARLEY      218

About the Contributors      233
Index      235

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Clearly, the essays in this collection grapple with the afterimages of slavery in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in a meaningful way. This collection is unique in its questioning of American slavery’s narrative and it should interest a vast array of scholars”—Science Fiction Studies.