I’ve been super eager to locate Speculative Blackness in my university library. It’s on order, and when I looked it up this time, I saw the call numbers and where it’s placed on the shelves.
I’m really, really pleased to be in such distinguished company. What’s critically important, to me, is that this call number, PS374. N4 C37, places my book next to African Americanist literary criticism. This is essential for my professional identity as an English prof. Also key are my first three subject headings:
American fiction — African American authors — History and criticism.
Science fiction, American — History and criticism.
Race in literature.
You can tell from the content of the book that it’s about media & popular culture. But what you need to know at the library is that I bring these topics to my job, which is teaching African American literature and literary studies. It matters to the institution, so it matters to me. When I articulate the meaning of the category of genre, when I talk about cultural capital and the field of cultural production, and when I deal with the politics of knowledge in classes and when I write articles, I’m drawing directly from the lessons I learned in the course of writing this book. It’s also critical, to me, that this book will be a reason for science fiction studies to visit the African American literature shelf; recognizing that the conversation about race in speculative fiction is inextricably linked to the ongoing legacy of Black scholarship and antiracist knowledge production is an absolutely essential goal of my research. At Penn’s library, Speculative Blackness is right next to the Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel! To me, that’s perfect. Of course, showing up is not the end of the project but the beginning. Placement in a library doesn’t demonstrate that by itself, but it helps. I’m in good company, on the shelves, and when I consider where my first book fits into my current scholarship, it’s a good trajectory.