ELCH - Studies in English Literary and Cultural History - Vol. 47

ELK - Studien zur Englischen Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft - Band 47


Jan Rupp

Genre and Cultural Memory in Black British Literature


This study locates and explores a generic and memorial turn in recent black British literature. Over the past two decades, writers have taken up an increasingly diverse spectrum of genres, entering into a critical dialogue with various genre memories as well as reflecting on the generic repertory typically used to chart cultural memory. As successive commemorative dates from the Windrush anniversary in 1998 to the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007 have highlighted the counter-memorial function of black British literature, genre has proven to be a powerful site of intervention, competence, and agency. To analyse the cultural-ecological potential of literary genres for counter-memory, as well as the potential for self-reflexivity they make possible, this study develops a genre approach to cultural memory. It carries out nine in-depth readings from around 30 novels considered, which testify to a wide variety of genres and myth-making from ancestral memories and established lieux de mémoire such as the Middle Passage and the ‘black Atlantic’ to new foundational narratives of a ‘black Europe’ or the founding myth of 1948. Throughout, this study pursues related endeavours of cultural memory studies and black British literary studies, taking a genre approach to cultural memory and a cultural memory studies approach to genre.


ISBN 978-3-86821-270-9, 216 S., kt., € 24,50 (2010)

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