The Haitian Revolution in the Transatlantic Literary Imagination, NeMLA

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

A growing body of recent scholarship argues that the Haitian Revolution is one of the defining events of modernity. But from 1791 until 1804, the fog of war distorted and obscured Western perceptions of Haiti. From independence until official recognition by France in 1825, isolation did likewise. Fear, mythmaking, and bigotry filled the void. In Tropics of Haiti, Marlene Daut states that “[a] great portion of the texts within the transatlantic print culture of the Haitian Revolution reveal themselves, upon closer examination, to be unsure about what they ‘think’ they are: novels or memoirs, histories or dramatizations… [they] blur the lines between history and fiction, biography and memoir, philosophy and science”. Daut notes that some fiction from the period goes as far as to cite sources. The interplay among these different media provides a rich insight into how opinions about Haiti, many of which have lasted to the present day, were shaped during this crucial time.

This panel invites interdisciplinary approaches to interrogating the growing study of the Haitian Revolution and its place in the history of modernity. Question to consider include: How does the Haitian Revolution remain “unthinkable” (Trouillot) or “disavowed” (Fischer) in contemporary scholarship? How did 18th and 19th century literary tropes and narratives about Haiti work to shape contemporary antiblackness? How did Haiti challenge Enlightenment notions of freedom, slavery, and universality?

All proposals must be submitted through the NeMLA portal by September 30th and should be no more than 300 words.

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