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Prophetic Remembrance

Black Subjectivity in African American and South African Trauma Narratives
Erica Still

BUY Cloth · 256 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813936550 · $59.50 · Dec 2014
BUY Paper · 256 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813936567 · $24.50 · Dec 2014
BUY Ebook · 256 pp. · ISBN 9780813936574 · $24.50 · Dec 2014

Using the term "prophetic remembrance" to articulate the expression of a constituent faith in the performative capacity of language, Erica Still shows how black subjectivity is born of and interprets cultural trauma. She brings together African American neo-slave narratives and Black South African postapartheid narratives to reveal the processes by which black subjectivity accounts for its traumatic origins, names the therapeutic work of the present, and inscribes the possibility of the future.

The author draws on trauma studies, black theology, and literary criticism as she considers how writers such as Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson, John Edgar Wideman, David Bradley, Sindiwe Magona, K. Sello Duiker, and Zakes Mda explore the possibilities for rehearsing a traumatic past without being overcome by it. Although both African American and South African literary studies have addressed questions of memory, narrative, and trauma, little comparative work has been done. Prophetic Remembrance offers this comparative focus in reading these literatures together to address the question of what it means to remember and to recover from racial oppression.


Erica Still’s book is a thoughtful and sensitive exploration of trauma and mourning in contemporary black writing from the United States and South Africa. The term ‘prophetic remembrance’ is a productive one, fostering fresh understandings of narrative form and temporality and generating new sociopolitical insights into a compelling transnational relationship.

Rita Barnard, University of Pennsylvania, author of Apartheid and Beyond: South African Writers and the Politics of Place, University of Pennsylvania, author of Apartheid and Beyond: South African Writers and the Politics of Place

About the Author(s): 

Erica Still is Assistant Professor of English at Wake Forest University.

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