F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

[Week 2] The Remix and Reassembly of Literary Texts

In the Northeastern University-sponsored Early Caribbean Digital Archive, the practice of “remix and reassembly” constitutes one of the most innovative means of reframing narratives and destabilizing colonial authorship.  Not only do the archivists extract “embedded slave narratives […] from texts written by European colonial authors” and thus recuperate them to a degree from their position within colonial texts, they also then place those extracted narratives into conversation with one another as independent texts in their own archival collection so that they are “remixed to form a new digital anthology.”  While these excavated narratives are often brief, as the archive grows it shall perhaps form something of a digital maroon community.

Using that same methodology on literary texts could prove similarly fruitful.  Whether recontextualizing characters who share a literary genealogy – such as the multiple iterations of Caliban across postcolonial rewritings or the various instantiations of the Anglo-Caribbean madwife in West Indian literature – or exploring the myriad portrayals of servants or cataloging specific racial representations within a literary tradition or era or (even across them), remixing and reassembly can provide a discursive avenue for reading characters, figures, or identities in conversation with each other and, to a degree, on their own terms.

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