This course will explore the history of, as well as our ideas about, the Underground Railroad (UGRR). Through both historical texts and different forms of cultural production, we will study what has remained one of the most culturally intriguing forms of resistance to slavery. Engaging with the ways in which African Americans sought self-emancipation through their escapes from slavery, we will seek to understand how African American communities understood, imagined, and contested both their enslavement and freedom. In studying the fantastic and harrowing escapes made by African Americans on the UGRR, we will also think about the ways this network of freedom has been portrayed and remembered. While the course will provide students with a firm grasp of both primary and secondary sources in the history of the UGRR and thus the historical study of slavery and abolition, we will also explore contemporary work like Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, the television show Underground, children’s literature, public history, and memory work. We will also ask what the activist traditions of the underground, and our cultural memory of them, can tell us about our current moment.