"Inhabitants of the Deep": Water and the Material Imagination of Blackness

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2017

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Abstract

This dissertation undertakes a black ecocritical study of the trope of water in African Diasporic Literature. Over the course of three chapters treating fiction, drama, and photography, in a study both multi-generic and interdisciplinary in scope, I illuminate the ways in which black literature recursively figures the problem of being black in terms of a recurring crisis of having no ground that originates with and is haunted by the waters of Middle Passage. However, beyond its traumatic associations with the slave trade, I also argue, following the aesthetic philosophy of Gaston Bachelard, that water provides the feature element of what I call the "material imagination of blackness." That is, a poetic and ethical imagination informed by the physiopoetic properties of water that inspires both black literary creation and enactments of black social life.

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Howard, Jonathan (2017). "Inhabitants of the Deep": Water and the Material Imagination of Blackness. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14514.

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