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Prison, Time, Kairos in Langston Hughes's _Scottsboro, Limited_
Modern Drama (2015)
  • Katy Ryan, West Virginia University

Langston Hughes’s verse play Scottsboro, Limited first appeared in the November 1931 issue of New Masses. Hughes takes advantage of agit-prop’s licence to move away from the strictly factual to present a vision of social transformation. Drawing from Antonio Negri’s writing, I discuss the unclear temporal location of the first scene relative to the rest of the action, especially the final act of liberation. Critics have assumed a causal connection between the emergence of communist workers in the audience and the freedom of the Scottsboro figures, but it is the defiance of the imprisoned that strengthens the resolve of the Red Voices and dispatches the Mob. Hughes transforms a scene of private execution into a public platform of black-led revolt, remakes prison into a site of physical and spiritual resistance, and provides a kairological perspective on the U.S. carceral state.

  • Agit-Prop Theatre,
  • Langston Hughes,
  • Scottsboro
Publication Date
Summer 2015
Citation Information
Katy Ryan. "Prison, Time, Kairos in Langston Hughes's _Scottsboro, Limited_" Modern Drama Vol. 58 Iss. 2 (2015)
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