This talk tracks the emergence of slavery as the defining template through which current forms of human rights abuses are understood. To fathom forms of freedom and bondage today–from unlawful detention to sex trafficking to the refugee crisis to conscription in war–Professor Goyal shows how contemporary literature draws on the antebellum genre of the slave narrative, reinventing such key genres as sentimentalism, the gothic, satire, ventriloquism, and the bildungsroman. Exploring the ethics and aesthetics of globalism, Goyal will forward alternative conceptions of human rights, showing that the revival and proliferation of slave narratives offers not just a chance to rethink the legacy of slavery itself, but also to assess its ongoing relation to race and the human. Urging a new comparative literacy that allows us to understand convergences with the global present alongside differences from the Atlantic past, this talk argues for the slave narrative as a new world literary genre, exploring the full complexity of an ethical globalism.
Yogita Goyal is Associate Professor of African American Studies and English at UCLA, editor of the journal, Contemporary Literature, and President of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (A.S.A.P.). She is the author of Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010), guest editor of a special issue of Research in African Literatures (Fall 2014) and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature (2017). Her study of the revival of the slave narrative as a new world literary genre, Runaway Genres: Global Afterlives of Slavery, is forthcoming from NYU Press in 2019.