Stories are an integral part of how we understand our communities—both their histories and our place within them. Theater is uniquely suited to this function, as every dramatic performance creates space removed one step from reality. On the stage, we can explore not just who we are, but who we might be.
A highlight of Telling Our Stories of Home, an ongoing 6-day conference-festival that brings artists, activists, and scholars together to examine the concept of “home” in African and African-Diaspora communities, will be the performance of Torn Asunder, a specially commissioned play based on the book Help Me to Find My People by Heather Williams, that focuses on the quest of African-American families to reunite after the Civil War.
It is from Torn Asunder that we take our cue, providing some complementary resources that expand on the intersection of theater and TOSH’s theme of “home.” The following list consists of a small selection of the Stone Center Library’s theater-related books that we hope will spur your imagination and curiosity in this fascinating and vital discussion. All quoted summaries are taken from the UNC-CH library catalog.
Handwritten notes from one of Octavia Butler’s notebooks. Photo from the Huntington Library’s blog.
Feb. 24, 2016, marks the 10thanniversary of the death of Octavia Butler (1947 – 2006), known as the “grand dame of science fiction.” Her books and short stories critiqued contemporary power structures while imagining a radical new future, addressing issues of class, race, gender and sexuality along the way. Her powerful visions of the world as it could be helped kickstart a new literary genre: Afrofuturism, an examination of the intersection between race and technology that envisions the future while interrogating the past.
A lifelong writer, Octavia Butler’s body of work includes twelve novels and two short story collections. Her novels have won numerous honors and awards within the science fiction community and beyond. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “Genius Grant.”
The Stone Center Library is proud to join the celebration the literary impact of Octavia Butler’s life. Many of Octavia Butler’s writings are available at UNC Libraries, so rather than list her novels, we would like to highlight the literary conversation that is part of her legacy.
In this post, we’ve gathered books that feature discussion of Octavia Butler’s work, analyzing its themes and looking at it in the context of African American, science fiction, and Afrofuturist literature.
All of these books are available at the Stone Center Library. Each title links to the book’s UNC Library catalog entry, where you can check their availability and learn more about them. Each entry is also accompanied by quote from the book’s official description.