From Melville to Saunders: Using Liminality to Uncover US-American Racial Fantasies


  • Lisa Seuberth Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg



American Africanism, White supremacy, nineteenth-century romance, twenty-first century fantasy, Whiteness, anti-Blackness, liminality


This paper offers a comparative reading of Herman Melville’s romance Moby Dick“ (1851) and George Saunders’s fantastic ghost story Lincoln in the Bardo “(2017), tracing the reverberations of Toni Morrison’s ‘American Africanism’ as a specific kind of White supremacist discourse in both novels. After sketching nineteenth-century romance and recent fantasy literature as liminal genres fitting for a critical negotiation of the equally liminal Africanist presence, this paper shows how both novels employ liminality as a shared narrative strategy to transport their criticism on White supremacy and anti-Blackness.

Author Biography

Lisa Seuberth, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Lisa Seuberth is a doctoral candidate at the Chair of American Literary Studies (Prof. Dr. Kley) at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU). She passed her First State Examination in December 2020 in English and French and is currently working on her project on White supremacist and anti-Black discourses in contemporary US American literature. Her research interests mainly concern Postcolonial Studies, African American Studies, and Critical Race Theory with a special focus on Critical Whiteness Studies. In her research, she focuses on the role popular and prestigious literatures play in the constant (re-)construction of racialized US-American identities.




How to Cite

Seuberth, Lisa. “From Melville to Saunders: Using Liminality to Uncover US-American Racial Fantasies”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 23, no. 1, Aug. 2022, pp. 41-54, doi:10.5283/copas.357.