English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 6-9-2021


This project examines how African American authors imagined solidarity through documents before, during, and after the Civil War. While solidarity as a framework has yet to be elucidated for literary studies, I draw on political theory and especially the works of the authors themselves to examine how solidarity as a strategy operates to facilitate cooperation between people of different or similar races or occupations in the periods of abolitionism, war, Reconstruction, and Redemption. I argue that these authors remember, imagine, and articulate small scale acts such as listening, organizing, making material aid, promoting literacy, and fundraising in the pursuit of racial equality. In this study, I demonstrate how novels depict abolitionism and institutional organizing at the fringe of their narratives and how texts that center such organizing, such as petitions, pamphlets, letters, and memoir are much more precariously located in the Black archive because they serve a collective, instead of individualistic, ideology. In this way, my project contributes to a deeper understanding of the relationship between Blackness, class, and the archive. It shows how slavery, wage work, capital, law, and power shape race, giving future scholars a more nuanced understanding of political organizing through written texts.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Kathryn Wichelns

Second Committee Member

David Correia

Third Committee Member

Jesús Costantino

Fourth Committee Member

Derrick R. Spires




african america, race, class, solidarity, slavery, capitalism

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