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Join the Pozen Center as Yogita Goyal (African American Studies and English, UCLA) discusses her latest book, Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery (NYU Press, 2019), in conversation with UChicago faculty Adom Getachew (Political Science) and Sarah Jessica Johnson (English). Sonali Thakkar (English) will moderate the conversation and Q&A session to follow.

Those interested in advance reading can download the Introduction to Runaway Genres. (Reading in advance is not required in order to attend or participate.)

We’ll be raffling off copies of the book at this event! Join us for your chance to secure a copy.

About the Book:
In Runaway Genres, Yogita Goyal tracks the emergence of slavery as the defining template through which current forms of human rights abuses are understood. The post-black satire of Paul Beatty and Mat Johnson, modern slave narratives from Sudan to Sierra Leone, and the new Afropolitan diaspora of writers like Teju Cole and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie all are woven into Goyal’s argument for the slave narrative as a new world literary genre, exploring the full complexity of this new ethical globalism. From the humanitarian spectacles of Kony 2012 and #BringBackOurGirls through gothic literature, Runaway Genres unravels, for instance, how and why the African child soldier has now appeared as the afterlife of the Atlantic slave.

Goyal argues that in order to fathom forms of freedom and bondage today—from unlawful detention to sex trafficking to the refugee crisis to genocide—we must turn to contemporary literature, which reveals 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 presents alternative conceptions of human rights, showing that the revival and proliferation of slave narratives offers not just an occasion to revisit the Atlantic past, but also for re-narrating the global present. In reassessing these legacies and their ongoing relation to race and the human, Runaway Genres creates a new map with which to navigate contemporary black diaspora literature.

About the Author:
Yogita Goyal is Professor of African American Studies and English at UCLA, author of Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature and the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature. She edits the journal Contemporary Literature and is a former President of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP).

About the Interlocutors: 
Adom Getachew is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago. She is a political theorist with research interests in the history of political thought, theories of race and empire, and postcolonial political theory. Her work focuses on the intellectual and political histories of Africa and the Caribbean. She is the author of Worldmaking After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (Princeton University Press, 2019).

Sarah Jessica Johnson is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago and researches archives of slavery and marronage in the United States and Caribbean from the seventeenth through nineteenth century. She is interested in how resistance practices and flight from enslavement by Black and Native individuals in the Caribbean and North America shaped textual and visual production in the colonial period.

Sonali Thakkar is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. She specializes in postcolonial literature and theory, and her current research focuses on the intersection of this field with Jewish studies, critical race studies, and human rights.

Presented in partnership with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture; the Department of English at the University of Chicago; and the Seminary Co-op Bookstores.