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The Detroit Genre

The Detroit Genre argues that Detroit has an essential relationship to the contemporary formations of genre in American literature and popular culture. That is, the contemporary formations of the suburban sitcom, the post-apocalyptic genre, the sci-fi dystopia, crime fiction, the superhero genre, or contemporary horror simply would not exist in the way they do today without the aesthetic material of Detroit. Because of the narrative templates these genre narratives provide, these literary and popular forms of storytelling can condition forgetfulness about Detroit’s lived history, directing attention towards or away from injustice, enabling or resisting Black dispossession, and fetishizing resilience.

The Detroit Genre provides the first literary and cultural investigation of the representations of Detroit in popular and literary culture. The book first establishes the tropes of the white-centric Detroit genre narratives in popular culture since the 1970s, including Blue Collar, Robocop, The Crow, It Follows, and Barbarian. Then the book looks to how African American writers such as Alice Randall, adrienne maree brown, Stephen Mack Jones, Cheryl A. Head, and Tananarive Due have experimented on and reclaimed the Detroit genre. These works not only make the mythos of race, labor, and culture in this American story visible and legible, but also use history and genre to comment on the foreclosure of and potential for the future of Black liberation in Detroit and beyond.


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