Black Speculative Fiction
This course focuses on the broad genre of speculative fiction—which encompasses various subcategories, including afro-futurism, science fiction, and neo-slave narratives—in order to explore its uses for advancing and expounding upon the historical questions and theoretical concerns that currently shape “black studies.” As an interdisciplinary knowledge project in the humanities, scholarship in black studies examines various cultural objects and forms in order to generate knowledge about how and to what effect “blackness” has been constituted as a social category nationally and across the western hemisphere, from early modernity and onward. Over the last thirty years, a dominant concern within this interdisciplinary location has been with thinking new approaches to engaging the historical past, which would supplement conventionally historicist methods for examining the archival records of transatlantic slavery. If the particular challenge that black studies engages is to produce knowledge that exceeds or breaks away from dominant narratives of and about western modernity, then a central question that arises from this challenge is: which objects, interpretive methods, and epistemological presumptions mediate the past and present? Further, if, as David Scott suggests, “time” can be thought to break from the linear schema of “history,” then how do we account for the historical temporalities that result from such breaking? To the degree that black studies can be understood as a speculative project—one that reaches for ways to conceptualize the modern human, “beyond Man’s meanings”—this course examines this aspect of the field by focusing on genres that forefront the question of time.