English 176fr. On the Run: Fugitives and Refugees in American Literature
Instructor: Thomas Dichter
Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 | Location: Barker 024
Escaped slaves, refugees, outlaws, and rebels are all on the run in the pages of American literature. In a nation founded in the name of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” stories of the fugitive making a break for freedom have been both troubling and enchanting. In this course, we will examine narratives of flight by American writers from the early days of the Republic through the present. These authors explore many different kinds of fugitivity: from the story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who hid in a crate and mailed himself to freedom in the North, to recent fiction by Edwidge Danticat and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Along the way, we’ll consider narratives of outlaws, war refugees, undocumented immigrants, and insurrectionaries. Engaging with a diverse range of authors, our texts will include autobiography, novels, poetry, and folklore.