American Studies

Thesis Abstracts

Amy Isabel Catania
(Re)membering African American History and Literature in Octavia E. Butler's Kindred

This thesis examines the historical and literary significance of Octavia E. Butler's novel, Kindred. Chapter One explores the various methods and meanings for looking back to slavery in African American literature including classic slave narratives and contemporary historical novels. It compares the slave narratives of Solomon Northup, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs to that of Dana, Butler's narrator, using the arguments of several literary critics concerning the influence of the model of the salve narrative on contemporary historical fiction. In order to illuminate the ways in which American historians have also looked back to slavery Chapter two focuses on the historical secondary sources Butler used and on her own rendering of their information and arguments. It then compares her work to that of more recent historians who have written accounts of slavery from the perspective of enslaved African American women. Chapter Three is an analysis of the novel as an historical and literary text which maneuvers in relationships such as race and gender in American History. I conclude that Kindred demonstrates the necessity of interdisciplinary study in its (re)membering of the intrinsic connections between African American history and literature.