The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia


My dissertation extends the vital loci of black critical and artistic work from the sea, ocean, water, and ship, to the air, airplanes and airports to reveal how slavery and its technologies intersects with modernity and its technology of travel. I argue that the contemporary literary works of African and diasporic writers at the center of this dissertation, Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang, Toni Morrison, Ama Ata Aidoo, Nnedi Okorafor, complicate the entanglement of flight with possibility, fantasy, lightness, or escape, by showing how the structure and grammar of the slave dungeon and ship haunts the spaces of the air, airplane, and airport. In other words, I utilize an interdisciplinary framework to center blackness in my study to posit that black literary engagements with these sites uncover genealogies and temporalities of flight that undermine the progression-centeredness of travel and mobility. “Dreams of flight” examines this illusive coupling of freedom with flight by focusing on the specific technology and sites of flight (air, airplanes and airports).

First Name: 
F. Delali
Pre-Doctoral Fellow (English)
Northwestern University
Dissertation Title: 
"Dreams of Flight: Literary Mappings of Black Geographies through Air, Airplane, and Airport"