Specters of the Atlantic
General Catalog Course Title:
Special Topics
Terms Offered:
Fall 2012
Spring 2012

One of the most salient and confounding aspects of life in the Caribbean and the United States, in old imperial centers like London, in Latin America and in Africa itself, is that the history of slavery is all at once everywhere we can see and everywhere hidden. In this class we will read works that wrestle with the ghostly meanings and effects of slavery—wrestle, that is, with the conundrum of black lives lost and recovered, lives strictly enumerated by book-keepers and radically unaccounted for by history, absences that are disquietingly present. We will study novels and poems by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Toni Morrison, Nathaniel Mackey, Kamau Brathwaite, and Erna Brodber, amongst others, paying particular attention to aesthetic features related to the effects of haunting—repression; disavowal; fragmentation; doubling; possession. To enhance our understanding of these effects we will read theorists and critics including Benjamin, Derrida, Jacqui Alexander, Avery Gordon, and Ian Baucom, to whose ambitious study of the tragedy of the slave ship Zong I owe the title of this course.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.