"We pay the devil rent for living in hell, 'cause the projects was built on the spot where Lucifer fell" : theorizing Richard Wright's Native son and Iceberg Slim's Pimp as urban neo-slave narratives
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This thesis is devoted to arguing for recognition of the urban neo-slave narrative, and to analyzing two examples of such novels: Richard Wright's Native son and Iceberg Slim's Pimp. My study is focused on expanding the neo-slave genre opening it up and making it subject to a new, innovative scholarship. By expanding the genre, we are recognizing contemporary writers whose urban texts (autobiographic and fictional), just like "traditional" neo-slave narratives (such as Booker T. Washington's 1901 Up from Slavery and Octavia Butler's 1979 Kindred) rely on imaginations, oral histories, and experience to produce texts that document the "escape from bondage to freedom" (Bell 1989: 289). Though Blacks are no longer in physical bondage, they remain captives of their historic fear of white supremacy - a terrorism that has kept them enslaved socially, politically, and economically, as best discussed by Dr. Joy Degruy Leary in her theory of "Post-traumatic slave syndrome" (PTSS). By undertaking such an analysis, I hope to encourage more scholarship within this genre. By expanding the genre to reflect the ever-present and growing body of work, which is not limited to discussions of chattel slavery, we can recognize among other things, that the genre should not be restricted to written texts, but should include visual and oral texts as well.
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