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Black PrometheusRace and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery$
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Jared Hickman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190272586

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190272586.001.0001

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The Terms of Prometheus’s Liberation

The Terms of Prometheus’s Liberation

Romanticism, Slavery, and the Titan’s Triumph

(p.74) 2 The Terms of Prometheus’s Liberation
Black Prometheus

Jared Hickman

Oxford University Press

The rise of Prometheus as an icon of modernity in the so-called “Romantic era” is constitutively shaped by the problem of slavery in an Age of Revolution. Milestones in the eighteenth-century revival and reinvention of the Prometheus myth—Voltaire’s early assault on theodicy in his 1740 play Pandore, Louis De Jaucourt’s Encyclopédie articles on “Prometheus” and “The Slave Trade,” Robert Potter’s popular English translation of Aeschylus, William Blake’s experiments in Romantic Satanism (perhaps under the influence of Olaudah Equiano), among others—also mark the development of the debate about racial slavery. This rereading of modern Prometheanism through the lens of racial slavery extends recent efforts to redefine “Romanticism” as a historical period of special significance in the imagination and actualization of the global rather than a suite of intellectual predispositions or aesthetic preferences characteristic of an elite cadre of European thinkers and writers.

Keywords:   slavery, race, Romanticism, radicalism, Prometheus, theodicy, globalization

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