Writing with the ghost:The potential histories of Saidiya Hartman and Susan Howe

Bradshaw, Kathryn Ann (2020) Writing with the ghost:The potential histories of Saidiya Hartman and Susan Howe. [Thesis]

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This thesis discusses and compares two different but resonant works of creative scholarship: Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (2019) and Susan Howe’s My Emily Dickinson (1985). Counter to a history conscribed by captivity and criminality, Saidiya Hartman “exceeds the archive” in order to speculatively narrate the “intimate histories” of African American women at the turn of the twentieth century. Susan Howe writes through a counter-historical poetics against mis-readings of Dickinson’s literary experimentation while situating the poet in a feminine nonconformist tradition. Approaching the archive as a departure point rather than a site for answers, Hartman writes a “serial biography” of the “wayward” women who fashioned forms of freedom within constraint while Howe investigates patriarchal authority over literary history. After addressing the differences between these scholars’ archives and the terms through which their subjects “enter history,” I illustrate moments in both texts where specific resonances may be located, focusing on each writer’s close readings of history, modes of listening for affect in the archive, and methods of counter-historical fabulation. I argue that Hartman and Howe engage adjacent aesthetic modes as they read their subjects otherwise, refusing normative terms by which resistance, representation, and intelligibility have been defined. They articulate openings for “potential history” through a shared recognition of the limits of genre and language while demonstrating a commitment to “unsettling what’s settled.”
Item Type: Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Saidiya Hartman. -- Susan Howe. -- Potential History. -- Fabulation. -- Emily Dickinson. -- Potansiyel Tarihçeler. -- Hikayeleme (Fabulasyon).
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Academic programs > Cultural Studies
Depositing User: IC-Cataloging
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2020 13:46
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2022 10:33
URI: https://research.sabanciuniv.edu/id/eprint/41138

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