Why Can't Slaveholders Imagine the Future?

Dr Hughes will be discussing a chapter that explores the temporal and narrative dimensions of speculative proslavery thought after 1830 by considering proslavery’s political economic turn. Exploring the political economic ideas of Thomas Roderick Dew, Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, and William Walker, he argues that the form attempts to articulate a vision of capitalist modernity unbound by liberal accounts of futurity. The chapter is part of a monograph project – provisionally entitled Shadowing the Master Class – which explores the repercussions of re-reading modern ideas about slavery’s modernity and the archives of black radicalism through the antinomies of nineteenth century proslavery thought.

Tomos Hughes is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in ELH, American Literary History, and the edited collection Crossings in Nineteenth-Century American Culture. His first monograph, America’s Imagined Revolution, explores how nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historical fiction about the Reconstruction period helps to frame revolution as the era’s narrative problematic and will appear with LSU Press in 2024. He is working on a second monograph that traces the relationship between proslavery and black radical thought, entitled Shadowing the Master Class.

The Oxford Early American Republic Seminar facilitates a network for UK-based graduate students and early career scholars who study the United States between the Revolution and Reconstruction. The network is based around a regular seminar series held at the University of Oxford. We welcome scholars from all disciplines who work in this area, including historians, literary scholars, and political scientists. For further details, please email grace.mallon@univ.ox.ac.uk.