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The Trouble with Magic: Conjuring the Past in New York City Parks

Zetta Elliott

Abstract


New York City parks serve as magical sites of discovery and recovery in speculative fiction for young readers, which has gone through a process of modernization, shifting from “universal” and “generic” narratives with repetitive features (derived from Western European folklore) to a sort of “specialization” that emphasizes the particular cultural practices and histories of racially diverse urban populations. Ruth Chew uses city spaces like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park to engage young readers in the magical adventures of white, middle-class children. Zetta Elliott’s African American speculative novels A Wish After Midnight and Ship of Souls utilize these sites to reveal the complexity and ethnic diversity of urban youth while conjuring the suppressed history of free and enslaved blacks in New York City.

Keywords


speculative fiction, urban parks, magic, African American literature

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