Performing Ellen: Mojisola Adebayo’s Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey (2008) and Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; Or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery (1860)

Journal article


Scafe, S. (2019). Performing Ellen: Mojisola Adebayo’s Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey (2008) and Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; Or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery (1860). The Journal of Commonwealth Literature. 55 (3), pp. 406-420. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989419848448
AuthorsScafe, S.
AbstractThe subject of Mojisola Adebayo’s one-woman performance, Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey, is Ellen Craft, an ex-slave whose escape from the slave-owning state of Georgia to England in the late 1840s is recounted in the escape narrative Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; Or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery. Rather than using her performance to present her biographical subject with an interiority the original slave narrative scarcely offers her, Adebayo reconstitutes Ellen and relocates her in an auto/biographical work that self-consciously blurs the boundaries between autobiography, biography, and biofiction, thus exposing the overlap and interdependency of these textual forms. Through a detailed analysis of both texts and their contexts, this essay argues that Adebayo constructs a figurative, first person auto/biography of Ellen Craft, a “call and response” production, originating in an “intimate, somatic engagement with the body of another”, whose “touch” sets up a fluid process of identification. Her work performs a textual revision of the slave narrative genre and its rich, socio-cultural contexts. As a performed, auto/biographical reimagining of Ellen Craft’s flight from slavery Moj of the Antarctic, like Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, transgresses multiple borders and, in the process, subverts expectations of what constitutes an authentic self. It deconstructs conventionally defined categories of race, gender, and sexuality and radically extends the Crafts’ own examination of the meaning of freedom.
KeywordsLiterature and Literary Theory
Year2019
JournalThe Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Journal citation55 (3), pp. 406-420
PublisherSage
ISSN0021-9894
1741-6442
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989419848448
Publication dates
Online16 Sep 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted16 Sep 2019
Deposited19 Feb 2020
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Page range002198941984844-002198941984844
Permalink -

https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/89151

Download files


Accepted author manuscript
scafe%20FINAL%20PP.docx
License: CC BY 4.0
File access level: Open

  • 100
    total views
  • 63
    total downloads
  • 0
    views this month
  • 1
    downloads this month

Export as