Black Neoclassical Literature and the Haitian Revolution


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project analyzes the role of ancient Greek and Roman material in literature about the Haitian Revolution by black authors. Classical antiquity has long been associated with Eurocentric white culture, yet since Haiti won its independence from French colonial control Black authors have reflected on the Revolution with a surprisingly dense network of classicizing motifs. From Bergeaud’s “Stella” (1859), the first Haitian novel, which replays the Revolution as a version of the Roman myth of Romulus and Remus, to Laferrière’s Odyssean “L’Énigme du Retour” (2009) this project explores these interconnected literary threads and suggests a different shape for both the global politics of race and for the racialized associations of ancient Greece and Rome.