Extrapolation

“You’ve found no records”

Slavery in Maryland and the Writing of Octavia Butler’s Kindred

Extrapolation (2017), 58, (1), 1–19.

Abstract

In Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Dana and Kevin travel to Maryland to try to find records of the events they experienced, but find little evidence. Their trip mirrors one Butler herself made in the 1970s to research the history behind her novel, although Butler found a great deal more than Dana did. This essay retraces Butler’s steps in research on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and in Baltimore at the Maryland Historical Society, speculating on what records she found that allowed her to embody in her novel her desire to make readers feel history, and exploring how she came to see African-American history as a story of heroism as survival.

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Author details

Donawerth, Jane

Scally, Kate