CFP: [American] Animal Matters: Rethinking the Slave Narrative

full name / name of organization: 
Lindgren Johnson
contact email: 

Proposed Panel: Animal Matters: Rethinking the Slave Narrative
Society for the Study of Southern Literature
April 17-20, 2008
Williamsburg, Virginia

Occupying a liminal position that was supported by “scientific racism,”
the Southern slave was forced to oscillate between categories of
animality and humanity. The critical response to this tenuous position
has overwhelmingly been to authorize the slave’s humanity by quickly
denouncing slavery’s dehumanization. In eliding a serious investigation
of the process of this “dehumanization,” however, representations of
animality are essentially glossed over.
        But how do slave narrators approach their own and other slaves’
dehumanization/animalization? Are these terms, after all, even
synonymous? How do material animals function in these narratives? And did
slaves, in their search for liberation, embrace Western humanism and its
concomitant epistemologies of animality and humanity as fully as Henry
Louis Gates and so many others have suggested? Following up on the
conference’s theme, how can we better understand the roots/routes of
animality in narratives of slavery?

Please send abstracts to Lindgren Johnson ( by
December 14, 2007.

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Received on Thu Nov 29 2007 - 11:36:58 EST