Lavelle Porter is an Assistant Professor of English at New York City College of Technology, CUNY. His writing has appeared in venues such as The New Inquiry, Poetry Foundation, JSTOR Daily, and Warscapes. He is a regular contributor for the blog Black Perspectives. His first book The Blackademic Life: Academic Fiction, Higher Education, and the Black Intellectual is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. Follow him on Twitter @alavelleporter.
The epigraph implies origin. As a literary device it often announces source material for a text, and it is a place where, presumably, the reading experience begins. The epigraphs I have placed above are modeled after the form that Samuel R. Delany uses for his 1995 novella “Atlantis: Model 1924,” which has two literary excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. Four of the five chapters of “Atlantis: Model 1924” contain epigraphs from Robert Hayden’s poem about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, “Middle Passage.”