Black Prometheus: Race and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery

ISBN : 9780190077792

Jared Hickman
544 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jun 2020
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How did an ancient mythological figure who stole fire from the gods become a face of the modern, lending his name to trailblazing spaceships and radical publishing outfits alike? How did Prometheus come to represent a notion of civilizational progress through revolution-scientific, political, and spiritual-and thereby to center nothing less than a myth of modernity itself ? The answer Black Prometheus gives is that certain features of the myth-its geographical associations, iconography of bodily suffering, and function as a limit case in a long tradition of absolutist political theology-made it ripe for revival and reinvention in a historical moment in which freedom itself was racialized, in what was the Age both of Atlantic revolution and Atlantic slavery. Contained in the various incarnations of the modern Prometheus-whether in Mary Shelley's esoteric novel, Frankenstein, Denmark Vesey's real-world recruitment of slave rebels, or popular travelogues representing Muslim jihadists against the Russian empire in the Caucasus- is a profound debate about the means and ends of liberation in our globalized world. Tracing the titan's rehabilitation and unprecedented exaltation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries across a range of genres and geographies turns out to provide a way to rethink the relationship between race, religion, and modernity and to interrogate the Eurocentric and secularist assumptions of our deepest intellectual traditions of critique.


Introduction Black Prometheus: Race and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery
Chapter 1 Globalization and the Gods: A Theory of Race and--or as--Modernity
Chapter 2 The Terms of Prometheus's Liberation: Romanticism, Slavery, and the Titan's Triumph
Chapter 3 Africa versus the Absolute Idealism and Its Others
Chapter 4 The Afro-Promethean Science of the Stars
Chapter 5 Re-binding Prometheus to the Caucasus: Idealism's Other Solution
Chapter 6 Imam Shamil or, the Modern Prometheus of Caucasus
Chapter 7 Rebellious Fictions: Black Prometheus and the Undoing of the Novelistic Form
Chapter 8 Byronic Abolitionism

About the author: 

Jared Hickman is Associate Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University.

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