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Committee Members

Ava Chamberlain (Advisor)

Degree Name

Master of Humanities (MHum)


The main purpose of this thesis is to answer the question of why the genre of science fiction permits African-American authors to expand their themes beyond African-American concerns and characters. This thesis puts forward the argument that science fiction provides African-American writers with the capacity to craft their works' central conflicts to include or exclude issues that affect the Black community. This thesis answers the question in four points, the first being a brief historical overview of the debate within the Black literary community on the prevalence of Black aesthetics. The overview also gives a summary of the debate over the true definition of science fiction. The next three points comprise the main body of the text by giving examples of the diversity of issues explored by three selected authors: Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and Charles Johnson. The thesis concludes that science fiction offers a freedom to African-American writers that cannot be found in other genres of fiction because its subjects are not bound by the social and cultural norms of a reality-based world.

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