Publishing black British short stories: the potential and place of a marginalised form

Evans, B., 2022. Publishing black British short stories: the potential and place of a marginalised form. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Publishing Black British Short Stories: The Potential and Place of a Marginalised Form foregrounds the formal properties and material positioning of postwar black British short fiction. Recent scholarship has considered the potential of black British short stories to encourage community building (Jansen, 2018), to portray thresholds or liminal spaces (Sacido-Romero, 2019; Achilles and Bergmann, 2014), and to provide 'trans-spaces' (Arndt, 2017). This thesis builds upon such studies by considering the form with reference to the metropolitan publishing industry's placement of expectations on black British writing, themes and forms which encourage 'authentic' representations of identity and experience (Kean, 2015; Saha and van Lente, 2020). I ultimately suggest that the black British short story, in the hands of writers such as Irenosen Okojie, Leone Ross, Janice Shinebourne, Pete Kalu, and Jennifer Johnson, subverts such expectations of the publishing industry. In a field where the politics of representation and identity prevail (Mercer, 1994; Hall, 1996; Getachew, 2005; Scafe, 2021), the allographic nature of short story publishing (amongst other works and with amplified presence of the editor and/or publisher) creates tension around authorial intent, agency, and aesthetic properties.

Chapters one and two explore periodical publishing, approaching Race Today (1969-1988) as a case study. Chapter one considers the influence of Caribbean periodical publishing on the magazine, arguing that place is prioritised over plot in stories by writers such as Janice Shinebourne and Austin Clarke. Chapter two investigates the expectations surrounding the genres and platforms available to the young (and little-known) black British writer Jennifer Johnson. Chapters three and four explore anthologising. Chapter three considers the short stories of Don't Ask Me Why (Black WomanTalk, 1991) in terms of the dynamic between plurality and singularity in the collectivist form of late-twentieth-century black British women’s anthologies – the chapter focuses in particular on stories by Joy Russell and Joyoti Grech. Chapter four investigates the role of anthologising for the future of canonising the field, with reference to the stories of Chantal Oakes and Karen Onojaife in Closure (Ross, 2015). Chapter five turns to the single-authored collections of the twenty-first century by Bolu Babalola, Zadie Smith, Irenosen Okojie, and Leone Ross. Finding that these texts employ antirealist techniques, the chapter argues that such collections undermine the marketplace’s expectation of accurate and immediate mimesis. The General Conclusion considers the extent to which the formal properties of the black British short story as defined in this thesis – aperture, laterality, and indeterminacy – can productively challenge the tendency towards linearity in narrativising and historicising black Britain. To close the thesis, the Coda explores Helen Oyeyemi's collection, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (2016), in terms of the marketplace positionality of black British texts in the twenty-first century.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Evans, B.
Date: March 2022
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 20 Oct 2022 09:28
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 09:28

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