Date

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

American Studies

First Adviser

Miller, Monica R.

Other advisers/committee members

Driscoll, Christopher; Pettegrew, John

Abstract

To borrow from the Hip Hop pioneer KRS-One, Afrofuturism has the capacity to “make worlds with words,” creating contemporary sacred texts reliant on the past and the future concurrently for the navigation of social realities. Over the last twenty years Afrofuturist thinkers such as Alondra Nelson, Ytasha Womack, among others, have expanded early thinking to encapsulate ideas of race, gender, technology and how they operate in literature, in particular science fiction. With this emergent force, time has been taken to evaluate and analyze the literary sites of knowledge production; however, little critical engagement has been concerned with other forms of cultural expression and the ways they engineer possibilities through reimagining the past and rearticulating the future. In this work, I contend that in order to embrace the full potential of these worlds, equal attention must be attributed to varied visual and embodied artistic expressions. The words remain significant, and might tell us something about how to handle the subsequent material, but the visual, material, and embodied dimensions of African American survival through imagination tell a great deal about the historic effort of African Americans to celebrate and demonstrate a humanity denied by the forces of enslavement, segregation, and racism.

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