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Stephen P. Knadler
Spelman College (Atlanta, GA 30314-4399)
Transatlantic Fugitives and the Imagining of a Cosmopolitan Race Man

The purpose of my project is to recover an eclipsed tradition within "black" cultural history and to investigate the evolution of a particular cultural formation and identity (the cosmopolitan race man) within Antebellum and Reconstruction US literary history. The premise of my study is that in the decade before and after the Civil War, African Americans who were often displaced, or literally fugitives in another country, were forced into a complex re-orientation of self in terms of place, and many of these writers developed an ideology linking self and global society, a cosmopolitan racial identity. Starting with the assumption that many of the racial and national identities which are taken as more or less obvious and natural to us today were only some of the many identifications and affiliations which free women and men and former slaves might have taken up, I argue that these African American writers wrestled with and anticipated many of our current ideas of "transnational identity," even though, with the failure of Reconstruction, many of them abandoned these alternatives to race or nation-based paradigms.

Project fields:
Ethnic Studies; Literary Criticism

Faculty Research Awards

Research Programs

$24,000 (approved)
$24,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2004 – 12/31/2004