Freedom Beyond Confinement
Travel and Imagination in African-American Cultural History and Letters
Michael Ra-shon Hall
Freedom Beyond Confinement examines the cultural history of African American travel and the lasting influence of travel on the imagination, particularly of writers of literary fiction and nonfiction. Using the paradox of freedom and confinement to frame the ways travel represented both opportunity and restriction for African Americans, the book details the intimate connection between travel and imagination from post Reconstruction (ca. 1877) to the present. Analyzing a range of sources from the black press and periodicals to literary fiction and nonfiction, the book charts the development of critical representation of travel from the foundational press and periodicals that offered African Americans crucial information on travel precautions and possibilities (notably during the era of Jim Crow) to the woefully understudied literary fiction that would later provide some of the most compelling and lasting portrayals of the freedoms and constraints African Americans associated with travel. Travel experiences (often challenging and vexed) provided the raw data with which writers produced meaningful images and ideas as they learned to navigate, negotiate, and even challenge racialized and gendered impediments to their mobility. In their writings African Americans worked to realize a vision and state of freedom informed by those often difficult experiences of mobility.
About the Author
Dr. Michael Ra-shon Hall is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Hall’s current research agenda examines the social and cultural phenomenon of travel and imagination in African-American arts, letters, and cultural history. His research and writing on travel and imagination have appeared in the academic journals Postcolonial Studies and the South Carolina Review as well as the edited volumes Travel and Imagination and Motion Pictures: Travel Ideals in Film.