Writing Shared Futures: African American Literature and Racialisation

Chair: Jennifer Terry, Durham University and British Association for American Studies (BAAS)


Aretha Phiri, Rhodes University, South Africa – B(l)ack to the Future: Reading twenty-first century African-American subjectivity through Toni Morrison’s Jazz

Jennie O’Reilly, Liverpool John Moores University – “The West’s Afro-American aesthetic is multicultural – it’s not black”: Ishmael Reed, Neo-Hoodoo, and the Challenge for Cultural Sovereignty

Nicole King, University of Reading – “No one’s lynching anyone here or anywhere else”: Post-Civil Rights narratives of youth and racialisation in Reginald McKnight’s ‘The White Boys’

Rosie Lewis, Durham University – Movement in Black: Biomythographical Tradition and the Politics of Late Twentieth-Century Black/Lesbian Feminist Literature

This British Association for American Studies panel will explore the significances of, and engagements with, racialisation in post-Civil Rights writing by African American authors Toni Morrison, Reginald McKnight, Pat Parker, and Ishmael Reed.  Giving consideration to the promise of the Civil Rights and Black Arts movements, and the conclusion of Obama’s two terms as U.S. president, our panel asks how are understandings of racialisation connected to understandings of the future? How and to what ends do the authors and texts we focus upon question categories and binaries of race? With what methods and literary structures do these writers present complex views of the processes by which racial identity comes into being?  Our papers draw upon theories of racialisation and subjectivity whilst our analysis makes plain the theorisations of race and subjectivity produced within the narratives of our primary texts.  In its discussion of contemporary African American novels, novellas and poetry this panel will offer a nuanced perspective on some of the most current debates in African American literature and culture, including afrofuturism, the limits of racialisation, American cultures of violence, contemporary and historical feminism, and the gendering of race

Thursday 6th July, 11.00