Hartman, Saidiya V.
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This course focuses on issues of history and memory in contemporary novels of slavery. In particular, the course grapples with issues of literary representation and historical responsibility in African American letters, the complex interaction of master narratives of history and oppositional sites of memory, and the ethical and political stakes of remembrance. The questions to be considered are: Why does slavery continue to be an important theme in American literature over one hundred years after the abolition of slavery? How do contemporary novels revision eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slave narratives, intervene in historical debates, and transform the popular imagination of slavery? How does the return to the past illuminate the present? How do narratives shape our understanding of reality?