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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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Rebinding Prometheus to the Caucasus

Rebinding Prometheus to the Caucasus

Idealism’s Other Solution

(p.217) 5 Rebinding Prometheus to the Caucasus
Black Prometheus

Jared Hickman

Oxford University Press

Another set of traditional geographical associations of Prometheus—with the Caucasus—acquired new significance in light of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century theories of the white race as originating in the Caucasus. This availability of a Caucasian Prometheus allayed anxieties about the unfolding history of freedom by anchoring the titan in white European civilization and, in so doing, domesticating out of him any liberation struggle that would contradict that civilization’s presumptively liberatory march through global space. This ethnoeuhemerization—at work in canonical recastings of the Prometheus myth such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Frankenstein and Prometheus Unbound as well as in abolitionist discourse directly engaged with the problem of racial slavery—entailed a Euro-Christian morphology of freedom as the achievement of identity with the Absolute and further evinces the racialization of the Absolute in global modernity.

Keywords:   Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Caucasus, race, slavery, Prometheus Unbound, Frankenstein

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