Event—Scholarly Seminars

Kaneesha Parsard, University of Chicago


Wages for Friends in the Beacon Group’s Short Fiction, Kaneesha Cherelle Parsard
This paper looks to early-twentieth-century Trinidadian fiction and its depiction of the friending relationship, in which women (and sometimes men) exchange companionship and sex for money. The Beacon group, a literary collective that counted the social theorist C.L.R. James among its ranks, wrote short stories about these women and the urban environments in which they lived. Though the writers merely saw their women protagonists as titillating, this paper looks to them to clarify the relationship among race, gender, sexuality, and capital in this time and place. When asked if she would like to get married, Mamitz declines, saying: “I go’n’ be a perfec’ slave. I all right as I be.” This paper offers the friending plot, which emphasizes pleasure in the present over a future secured through work or marriage. It is a critique of liberal freedom a century after West Indian emancipation.

Respondents: Lana Dally, Cal State Fullerton, and Christopher McAuley, UC Santa Barbara