Journal article Open Access

A "Savage Mode": The Transmedial Narratology of African American Protest

Chris Hall

JSON Export

  "files": [
      "links": {
        "self": ""
      "checksum": "md5:3d423a7a0f16d7f65868d85900c63621", 
      "bucket": "9ffab2ab-b630-4108-998a-b6d1d789c18f", 
      "key": "A \u201cSavage Mode\u201d - The Transmedial Narratology of African American Protest.pdf", 
      "type": "pdf", 
      "size": 216586
  "owners": [
  "doi": "10.5281/zenodo.3515123", 
  "stats": {
    "version_unique_downloads": 45.0, 
    "unique_views": 60.0, 
    "views": 66.0, 
    "version_views": 67.0, 
    "unique_downloads": 45.0, 
    "version_unique_views": 61.0, 
    "volume": 11045886.0, 
    "version_downloads": 51.0, 
    "downloads": 51.0, 
    "version_volume": 11045886.0
  "links": {
    "doi": "", 
    "conceptdoi": "", 
    "bucket": "", 
    "conceptbadge": "", 
    "html": "", 
    "latest_html": "", 
    "badge": "", 
    "latest": ""
  "conceptdoi": "10.5281/zenodo.3515122", 
  "created": "2019-10-21T13:59:17.831711+00:00", 
  "updated": "2020-01-20T17:07:14.145118+00:00", 
  "conceptrecid": "3515122", 
  "revision": 4, 
  "id": 3515123, 
  "metadata": {
    "access_right_category": "success", 
    "doi": "10.5281/zenodo.3515123", 
    "description": "<p>This article explores narrative in African American protest art by examining Richard Wright&rsquo;s 1940 novel Native Son, alongside 21 Savage (Shayaa Abraham-Joseph) and Metro Boomin&rsquo;s 2016 rap album Savage Mode. I open with a discussion of Native Son as a project of protest and with James Baldwin&rsquo;s criticism of the novel, and of protest fiction at large. Centring Baldwin&rsquo;s critique, this article explores the violence and horror of the narrative worlds of Wright&rsquo;s Bigger Thomas and Abraham-Joseph&rsquo;s 21 Savage, in an effort to discover if these works are capable of complicating Baldwin&rsquo;s claims and expanding notions of what protest is and how it operates.<br>\nBy applying Marie-Laure Ryan&rsquo;s concept of storyworlds, and the attendant &ldquo;principle of minimal departure,&rdquo; the article lays out a narratology of protest. The social protest of these works, I find, is rendered uniquely efficacious by the violence that takes place within their storyworlds, violence that operates as a visceral, unignorable force urging real-world change. Because of its impact on the reader or listener, violence and discomfort within these narratives directs that user toward extra-narrative action. In building on the transmedial approach that Ryan encourages, and examining Savage Mode as a contemporary work of protest that shares a narrative technique with Native Son, the article also discusses some recent engagements with rap music in traditional scholarship and popular writing.<br>\nThroughout, I put forth the argument that both Savage Mode and Native Son function as powerful works of protest against real-world conditions, protests that operate via narratives that empathically involve their users in violent storyworlds. Abraham-Joseph&rsquo;s protest, then, furthers Wright&rsquo;s, as both are works that operate in a &ldquo;savage&rdquo; narratological &ldquo;mode&rdquo;&mdash;one of intense violence and discomfort which, read as protest, has the capacity to prompt an activist response in the user.</p>", 
    "license": {
      "id": "CC-BY-4.0"
    "title": "A \"Savage Mode\": The Transmedial Narratology of African American Protest", 
    "relations": {
      "version": [
          "count": 1, 
          "index": 0, 
          "parent": {
            "pid_type": "recid", 
            "pid_value": "3515122"
          "is_last": true, 
          "last_child": {
            "pid_type": "recid", 
            "pid_value": "3515123"
    "keywords": [
      "rap and hip-hop; storyworld; Richard Wright; Native Son; James Baldwin; African American literature"
    "publication_date": "2019-10-21", 
    "creators": [
        "affiliation": "University of Kansas (US)", 
        "name": "Chris Hall"
    "access_right": "open", 
    "resource_type": {
      "subtype": "article", 
      "type": "publication", 
      "title": "Journal article"
    "related_identifiers": [
        "scheme": "doi", 
        "identifier": "10.5281/zenodo.3515122", 
        "relation": "isVersionOf"
All versions This version
Views 6766
Downloads 5151
Data volume 11.0 MB11.0 MB
Unique views 6160
Unique downloads 4545


Cite as