Bertram D. Ashe,Ilka Saal

Slavery and the Post-Black Imagination

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From Kara Walker’s hellscape antebellum silhouettes to Paul Beatty’s bizarre twist on slavery in The Sellout and from Colson Whitehead’s literal Underground Railroad to Jordan Peele’s body-snatching Get Out, this volume offers commentary on contemporary artistic works that present, like musical deep cuts, some challenging “alternate takes” on American slavery. These artists deliberately confront and negotiate the psychic and representational legacies of slavery to imagine possibilities and change. The essays in this volume explore the conceptions of freedom and blackness that undergird these narratives, critically examining how artists growing up in the post–Civil Rights era have nuanced slavery in a way that is distinctly different from the first wave of neo-slave narratives that emerged from the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.
Slavery and the Post-Black Imagination positions post-blackness as a productive category of analysis that brings into sharp focus recent developments in black cultural productions across various media. These ten essays investigate how millennial black cultural productions trouble long-held notions of blackness by challenging limiting scripts. They interrogate political as well as formal interventions into established discourses to demonstrate how explorations of black identities frequently go hand in hand with the purposeful refiguring of slavery’s prevailing tropes, narratives, and images.
A V Ethel Willis White Book
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379 printed pages
Original publication
2019

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