Tag Archives: Harriet Jacobs

Trap Music, Trap Spaces, and Black Holes: From Harriet Jacobs to Fetty Wap and Beyond

On Friday, September 30th, at Wayne State University in Detroit, I gave the following presentation at the 2016 Union for Democratic Communications conference. It’s an excerpt from the third chapter of my dissertation, currently titled Original Gangsters: Genre, Crime, and Settler Democracy, a project in which I analyze the history and present of the gangster genre as a lens through which to better understand the dynamics of global governance, political economy, and social relations.

After chapters that examine case studies set in India and South Africa, my third chapter is centered on the U.S. In this particular excerpt, I situate Fetty Wap’s blockbuster hit, “Trap Queen,” about a domestic relationship framed by the trap house where the two partners live and work, within genealogies of “trap spaces” stemming from Harriet Jacobs’s “loophole of retreat” in Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl and the “burdened individuality” of post-emancipation black life as theorized by Saidiya Hartman. Further, I link this trapped, burdened individuality to the disciplinary pressures faced by university students of color, particularly black students, who are compelled to become “Breadwinner/Investor subjects of the nation-state,” as Sylvia Wynter explains, or, failing that, remain on the outside of this over-represented genre of humanity.

This is a work in progress, so I welcome any and all feedback.

(NB: I’ve posted images with the slides on top, my remarks at the bottom; you can click each image for a closer view.)

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At this point in the presentation I played the first minute or so of the “Trap Queen” video below (beware that when you click play, an ad will start playing…).

Then I returned to my slides as follows.

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