English Research Seminar Series
Fashioning the anti-colonial narrative
As part of the School of Arts and Humanities English Research Seminar Series, Dr Neelam Srivastava, Newcastle University, presents: 'Fashioning the anti-colonial narrative: Literary Pan-Africanism and Claude McKay's "Great Ethiopian" '
- From: Wednesday 18 January 2017, 1 pm
- To: Wednesday 18 January 2017, 2 pm
- Location: 101, Mary Ann Evans building, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Campus, Clifton Lane, Nottingham, NG11 8NS
As part of the School of Arts and Humanities English Research Seminar Series, Dr Neelam Srivastava, Newcastle University, presents: 'Fashioning the anti-colonial narrative: Literary Pan-Africanism and Claude McKay's "Great Ethiopian Novel"
Abstract:In 1940, Claude McKay completed an unpublished novel, Amiable with Big Teeth: A Novel Concerning the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Black Sheep of Harlem. Dr Srivastava will explore how this unknown novel by McKay fashions an Afrocentric narrative of a major colonial event: the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. The event provoked unprecedented reactions across the black diaspora, especially in Harlem, where McKay lived. The novel, set entirely in Harlem, is at once local and transnational, narrating how the Ethiopian war effort brought Harlemites in conflict with the Communists, who wished to use African American sympathy for Haile Selassie in order to recruit them into the Communist International. Conversely, McKay traces a somewhat different “International”, based on a recuperation of historical black self-determination centered around Ethiopia. The black organizations aiding Ethiopia “saw in it also an instrument for helping the Aframericans here, to give them the dignity of human beings with a background that bridged the enormous pit of slavery” (155). Dr Srivastava argues that McKay’s novel is part of an anti-colonial narrative of the war that finds parallels in other 1930s texts such as CLR James’s play Toussaint L’Ouverture and his history The Black Jacobins. Such texts exemplify a black internationalism—a literary Pan-Africanism—that highlighted the importance of producing literature and history which could write back to fascist and imperialist takes on the Italian invasion.
For any enquiries, please contact the College of Art, Architecture, Design and Humanities Research Office by email, or telephone +44 (0)115 848 2301.