CFP: [Cultural-Historical] Cannibal, Sadist, Addict: W. B. Seabrook and the Popular Cultures of U.S. Imperialism

full name / name of organization: 
Susan Zieger
contact email: 

William Buehler Seabrook (1884-1945) was an adventurer and best-selling
Lost Generation writer whose influence on U.S. and global popular culture
has been massive but critically neglected. Seabrook was best known for
his sensational anthropological adventures, The Magic Island (1929), a
chronicle of his stay in U.S. occupied-Haiti and participation in voudun;
and Jungle Ways (1930), a record of his immersion among several tribal
peoples in the Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Mali, in his quest to commit
cannibalism in a racially authentic setting. The Magic Island inspired
the first wave of zombie films of the 1930s, most notably White Zombie
(1932); his memoir of his residence in a clinic to cure his alcoholism,
Asylum (1932), inaugurated the genre of the rehab memoir. Seabrook, who
also dabbled in the occult, sensory deprivation, and sadism, consistently
sought out the limits of human experience, which he frequently conceived
as the white experience of racial alterity. He was thus also obsessed
with white men who had figuratively become black: Faustin Wirkus, the
U.S. marine who became “the white king of La Gonave” during the U.S.
occupation of Haiti, and Père Yakouba, the Frenchman he immortalized as
The White Monk of Timbuctoo (1934). Seabrook is ripe for critical revival
beginning with a panel at MLA in San Francisco in December â€" or if you’re
quick to respond, ASA in Albuquerque in October â€" because his oeuvre
engaged popular and elite attitudes to the relationships between racial
identity, U.S. imperialism, masculinity, the avant-garde, and sexual
freedom. Papers on any Seabrook text or aspect of his work and life are
welcome. Please send a brief proposal and cv to Susan Zieger at For ASA, by Jan. 21; for MLA, by Mar. 1.

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Received on Mon Jan 14 2008 - 18:53:43 EST