Ellen C. Caldwell F'20

Ellen C. Caldwell
Professor
Art History
Mt. San Antonio College

Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships 2020
Professor
Art History
Mt. San Antonio College
Visualizing the Transhistorical Body on the Book Covers of Octavia E. Butler's “Kindred”

This project analyzes the strikingly different illustrations and imagery used on Octavia E. Butler’s book covers for her best-selling novel “Kindred.” Over the past four decades, cover artists have focused on different angles of the novel, moving from depicting the protagonists’ faces and silhouettes, to their bodies, to fragmented parts of the body. Drawing on archival research from the Octavia E. Butler Archives at the Huntington Library, this project compares imagery on the book covers, tying them to the sociopolitical themes of the novel and to the times in which they were produced. Based on artist interviews and primary research, this project visually analyzes book covers, exploring imagery in relation to literary themes such as speculative fiction, language, and Afrofuturism. This project continues original research for a larger co-authored project with Dr. Christine Montgomery that began as a chapter for “The Bloomsbury Handbook to Octavia E. Butler.”