Skip to Content

Runaway Genres: the Global Afterlives of Slavery

«Back To Seminars

Organizer: Sangeeta Ray

Contact the Seminar Organizers

Title: Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery 
In Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery, Yogita Goyal argues that slavery has emerged 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 to the refugee crisis to genocide – Goyal shows 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 offers not just a chance to rethink the legacy of slavery itself, but also to assess its ongoing relation to race and the human. 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.  

This seminar takes up the questions raised by this book to fathom the future of the study of race and slavery in a global framework, welcoming considerations of other genres and sites of postcolonial critique. 

Questions participants may consider:
How have race and form been entangled, historically and in the present? How do forms travel across time and space? 
How do questions of aesthetic form and formalism reanimate the study of race and empire? 
How do new conceptions of diaspora and migration (especially in the works of celebrated Afropolitan writers) change previous paradigms of comparative, transnational, and world literatures? 
How may we imagine claims of human rights beyond the frame of empathy? What does a truly ethical globalism look like?
How might we theorize the project of writing back to the empire in the twenty-first century?
How does contemporary literature navigate racial formation in a globalizing world? 
What are other genres in contemporary literature that recycle past forms? To what effect? 
How does analogy as an optic allow us to understand the unpredictable afterlives of slavery, colonialism, and racial dispossession? 


«Back To Seminars