Date of Award
Master of Arts in English and Writing Studies
First Reader/Committee Chair
The crawling pace that the production of diverse fantasy books has set for itself continues to reveal that Black characters and the representation of Blackness in fiction is lacking in a detrimental way. Specifically speaking, this thesis focuses on the prevalent lack of Black characters in the fantasy genre, where Black people are cast as minor characters to a white protagonist’s story like Angela Johnson from Harry Potter; cast as abominations of anti-Black stereotypes in monsters like the Uruk-hai of Lord of the Rings; and cast as side(kick) characters like Vetch from Earthsea, aka Black characters who are close to the white protagonist, yet their narrative arcs happen entirely outside the main plotline of the story and not in the pages. As a result, Black readers are being denied the chance to position themselves in fantasy; they are denied the choice to read about Black characters rising to the height of their ability and solving problems; and they are denied the comfort that they too can be magic like the (white) characters children of all ethnicities grew up reading about. Although there are published Black authors who actively write Black characters in fantasy stories, like Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin, Tomi Adeyemi, and Marlon James to name a few; and although the Afrofuturism movement of the mid-1900s still works in this 21st century to place Black people in other worlds to blossom enjoyment in and grant escapism to Black readers, these books are still few compared to the vast representation of white people in fantasy, publishing avenues having put large gaps between releases of Black fantasy stories. It is my feeling that reforming the genre can happen if Black authors perform responsive, active writing, meaning they are creating Black fantasy worlds and characters from a place of knowing what representation is out there already, what attitudes are standing against them, and what their plans are to diversify fantasy fiction with Black-positioned perspectives. By creating anyway and being determined to publish, Black authors will not only open the door for other Black authors of fantasy to be published but will also give Black readers the books they want to read, widening publishing’s reach. In this thesis, I will assume the position of a Black author who has been given this reach via the production of an excerpt of my fantasy novel series, Secrets of Candeo, a novel series that positions my Blackness in a world where anything is possible, and the cast consists of Black characters who are agents in their own tale. Accompanying the excerpt is a contextualizing essay that places my excerpt in context with the conversations about Black characters, publishing, and the representation of Black people in fantasy. With excerpt and essay both, I scaffold a hope that the publishing and writing of Black fantasy stories will continue in fuller force and continue to bestow the ability to be meaningfully magic upon Black readers.
Parks, Julienne, "WRITING BLACK CHARACTERS OUT OF THE MARGINS OF FANTASY WITH SECRETS OF CANDEO" (2021). Electronic Theses, Projects, and Dissertations. 1346.