Runaway GenresThe Global Afterlives of Slavery

Runaway GenresThe Global Afterlives of Slavery

Yogita Goyal

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9781479829590

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery tracks the emergence of slavery as the defining template through which current forms of human rights abuses are understood. To fathom forms of freedom and bondage today—from unlawful detention to sex trafficking, the refugee crisis, genocide—this project reads a vast range of contemporary literature, showing how the literary forms used to tell these stories derive from the antebellum genre of the slave narrative. Exploring the ethics and aesthetics of globalism, the book forwards alternative conceptions of human rights, showing that the revival and proliferation of slave narratives offer a chance not just to rethink the legacy of slavery itself, but also to assess its ongoing relation to race and the human. Taking form seriously in discussions of minority literature, the book examines key genres associated with the slave narrative: sentimentalism, the gothic, satire, ventriloquism, and the bildungsroman. By offering a theory of form and how it travels, the book argues for the slave narrative as a new world literary genre, exploring the full complexity of an ethical globalism. Traversing multiple genres and disciplines, the book speaks to African diaspora and African American studies, transnational and world literatures, American studies, postcolonial and global studies, and human rights. Showing how slavery provides the occasion not just for revisiting the Atlantic past but for renarrating the global present, Runaway Genres creates a new map of contemporary black diaspora literature.