Matt Sandler, MA Program Director American Studies, review of "The Underground Railroad" By Colson Whitehead

September 10, 2016


COLSON WHITEHEAD’S NEW NOVEL appears in the middle of what is starting to look like a vogue for African-American historical culture, marked in part by Hollywood films like 12 Years a Slave and Selma. African-American novelists have long been interested in the historical place of Black people in American life, and what Ashraf Rushdy calls the “neo-slave narrative” has been around since the 1960s, energized by Toni Morrison’s Beloved in the late 1980s. In its scope and ambition, The Underground Railroad makes a bid to synthesize that long tradition of novel writing about slavery. Its claims about history and the present, however, are much less straightforward than some of the hype around the novel would suggest. Read on here

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CSER continues to be Columbia's main interdisciplinary space for the study of ethnicity and race and their implications for thinking about culture, power, hierarchy, social identities, and political communities. The Center also offers a wide range of public programming, including Artist at the Center, Indigenous Forum, and Latino Public Speaker Series and the Transnational Asian/American Speaker Series. CSER's most recent spaces include the Media and Idea Lab and Gallery at the Center, a space dedicated to curating artistic and thematic exhibits around the Center’s key areas of interest.

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