Eating the Black Body: Miscegenation as Sexual Consumption in African American Literature and Culture

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-09-29 02:56Z by Steven

Eating the Black Body: Miscegenation as Sexual Consumption in African American Literature and Culture

Peter Lang
231 pages
0.340 kg, 0.750 lbs
Softcover ISBN: 978-0-8204-7931-6

Carlyle Van Thompson, Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Education
Medgar Evers College, the City University of New York

In this provocative and original exploration of racial subjugation and its aftermath, Carlyle Van Thompson illumines the racialized sexual desire that reduces Black people to commodities for consumption. Eating the Black Body examines the often-sadistic forms of sexual violence during the period of slavery and its aftermath. By looking at one poem and three novels—Richard Wright’s Between the World and Me, John Oliver Killens’ Youngblood, Gayl Jones’ Corregidora, and Octavia Butler’s Kindred—that examine slavery and the Jim Crow period, Thompson investigates a wide variety of Black bodies as sites of miscegenation and sexual desire. Thompson also examines a horrific case of White male police brutality in New York City in which a Black man was sodomized. Bold and persuasively argued, Eating the Black Body will engage readers in a broad range of literary, historical, and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Consuming Hot Black Bodies: Miscegenation as Sexual Violence in African American Literature and Culture
  • Chapter 2: Speaking Desire and Consumption of the Black Body in Richard Wright’s “Between the World and Me”
  • Chapter 3: Miscegenation as Sexual Consumption: The Enduring Legacy of America’s White-Supremacist Culture of Violence in John Oliver Killens’ Youngblood
  • Chapter 4: Miscegenation, Monstrous Memories, and Misogyny as Sexual Consumption in Gayl Jones’ Corregidora
  • Chapter 5: Moving Past the Present: Racialized Sexual Violence and Miscegenous Consumption in Octavia Butler’s Kindred
  • Chapter 6: White Police Penetrating. Probing, and Playing in the Black Man’s Ass: The Sadistic Sodomizing of Abner Louima
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
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Fashioning and Refashioning Marie Laveau in American Memory and Imagination

Posted in Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2012-03-18 19:58Z by Steven

Fashioning and Refashioning Marie Laveau in American Memory and Imagination

Florida State University
201 pages

Tatia Jacobson Jordan

A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Fashioning and Refashioning Marie Laveau in American Memory and Imagination follows the life and literary presence of the legendary figure, Marie Laveau. This female spiritualist lived in antebellum Louisiana from 1801-1881. After her death, her legend has continued to grow as evidenced by her presence in contemporary print and pop culture and the tens of thousands of visitors to her grave in New Orleans every year. Here, I contextualize Laveau in a pre-Civil war America by looking at the African American female in print and visual culture. I trace the beginnings of several tropes in literature that ultimately affect the relevancy of the Laveau figure as she appears and reappears in literature beginning with Zora Neale Hurston’s inclusion of Laveau in Mules and Men. I offer close readings of the appearance of these tropes in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, interrogate her connection to Caribbean lore in Tell My Horse, and show the evolution of this figure in several of Hurston’s short stories. I then offer close readings of the refiguring of Laveau in Robert Tallant’s works, Ishmael Reed’s novel The Last Days of Louisiana Red, and Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Marie Laveau trilogy. I intervene with contemporary scholarship by suggesting that novels like Corregidora by Gayl Jones, Mama Day by Gloria Naylor, and The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara draw not on a general conjure figure, as previously thought, but instead implicitly refashion feminist heroines that resemble Marie Laveau, characters with a circum-Atlantic consciousness that arise from Hurston’s literary legacy.


  • List of Figures
  • Abstract
  • INTRODUCTION: “Looking for the Join”: Positioning Laveau Lore in American Studies
  • CHAPTER ONE: Historical Context: Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Print Culture and Literature
  • CHAPTER TWO: “That’s what the old ones said in ancient times and we talk it again”: The Retelling of Laveau in Hurston’s Canon
  • CHAPTER THREE: “Dismissing” Laveau: Male Authorship in the Laveau Canon
  • CHAPTER FOUR: Glimpses of the Ghost: Hurston’s Legacy in Gloria Naylor, Toni Cade Barnbara, and Gayl Jones
  • CHAPTER FIVE: Hearing Voodoo, Writing Voodoo: Cultural Memory in Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Marie Laveau Trilogy
  • Appendix
  • References
  • Biographical Sketch


  • Figure 1: “Marie Laveau,” 1920s; Franck Schneider after George Catlin Courtesy of the Louisiana State Museum
  • Figure 2: The Original Cover of Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman, 1899
  • Figure 3: “This is a white man’s government,”from Harper’s Weekly, 1868; Library of Congress
  • Figure 4: “‘Well, Missy! Heah we is!'”1913; Library of Congress
  • Figure 5: “Jinnoowine Johnson ticket. ‘Carrying the war into Africa,”‘ 1836; Library of Congress
  • Figure 6: “An Affecting Scene in Kentucky,” 1836; Library of Congress
  • Figure 7: “Children on the Lawn at Brookhill (Nanny Hiding Behind the Children) Courtesy of the Valentine Richmond Historical Center
  • Figure 8: Racist Mammy Postcard 1, 1900; Library of Congress
  • Figure 9: Racist Mammy Postcard 2, 1900; Library of Congress
  • Figure 10: “Mr. T. Rice as the original Jim Crow,” 1832; Sheet Music Cover Illustration
  • Figure 11: Zora Neale Hurston in the Caribbean; Library of Congress
  • Figure 12: Hurston’s Ft. Pierce Chronicle Column circa 1958
  • Figure 13: Cover of Fire!! Literary Magazine, 1926
  • Figure 14: “Voodoo Painting/’ Courtesy of the Robert Tallant Photograph Collection, Louisiana Division, New Orleans Public Library
  • Figure 15: “Marie Laveau,”2007, Courtesy of Artist Holly Sarre

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Was Your Mama Mulatto? Notes toward a Theory of Racialized Sexuality in Gayl Jones’s “Corregidora” and Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust”

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Women on 2011-01-22 21:51Z by Steven

Was Your Mama Mulatto? Notes toward a Theory of Racialized Sexuality in Gayl Jones’s “Corregidora” and Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust”

Volume 27, Number 3 (Summer, 2004)
pages 768-787
E-ISSN: 1080-6512, Print ISSN: 0161-2492
DOI: 10.1353/cal.2004.0136

Caroline A. Streeter, Associate Professor of English
University of California, Los Angeles

Gayl Jones’s novel Corregidora (1975) and Julie Dash’s feature film Daughters of the Dust (1991) are singular texts that use historical frameworks to comment upon post Civil-Rights- era race and gender relations and identity formations. Daughters of the Dust, the first feature film written and directed by Dash, was also the first film by an African-American woman to receive widespread theatrical distribution. Daughters is an independent work that resists and contests many aspects of the Hollywood film. Corregidora was the first novel by Gayl Jones, a reclusive figure with a small but striking literary output. Both the novel and the film call attention to understudied aspects of the African diaspora. In Corregiilora, Jones creates an unusual migration circuit that links mid-to-late twentieth-century African Americans living in Kentucky to their slave ancestors in Brazil. In Daughters of the Dust, the plot concerns the persistence of African traditions among black people at the turn of the century living on the Sea Islands. located off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. Both works also highlight the crucial role of women in maintaining cultural memory for black communities. This essay concerns the ways in which Corregidora and Daughters of the Dust make compelling interventions that transform mulatto characters—“racially mixed” women of African descent who bear the phenotypical (physical) markers of “race mixing”—into figures that help us to understand new things about sexual and racial normativity. Both texts effect a surprising deployment of a figure that has been symbolic of repressed histories and regressive discourses.

Mulatta characters have long been controversial figures for scholars of African-American literature. In novels such as Clotelle, or the Colored Heroine, A Tale of the Southern States (William Wells Brown, 1867), lola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted (Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, 1892), Megda (Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins, 1891), and Contending Forces: A Romance lllustrative of Negro Life North and South (Pauline Hopkins, 1900), mulatta characters are symbolic of traumatic histories of enslavement. In novels of the 1920s and 1930s, especially those associated with Harlem Renaissance writers such as Nella Larsen Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929) and Jessie Fauset There is Confusion (1924), Plum Bun (1928), The Chinaberry Tree (1931), and Comedy American Style ( 1933). mulatta characters represented access to class mobility and the possibility of escaping the stigma of blackness altogether through “racial passing.”…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Posted in Biography, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Novels, Passing on 2010-12-30 16:43Z by Steven


W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
January 2011 (Originally published in 1923)
560 pages
5 × 8 in
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-393-93168-6

Jean Toomer (1894-1967)

Edited by:

Rudolph P. Byrd (1953-2011), Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies and African American Studies
Emory University

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research
Harvard University

A masterpiece of the Harlem Renaissance and a canonical work in both the American and the African American literary traditions, Cane is now available in a revised and expanded Norton Critical Edition.

Originally published in 1923, Jean Toomer’s Cane remains an innovative literary work—part drama, party poetry, part fiction. This revised Norton Critical Edition builds upon the First Edition (1988), which was edited by the late Darwin T. Turner, a pioneering scholar in the field of African American studies. The Second Edition begins with the editors’ introduction, a major work of scholarship that places Toomer within the context of American Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. The introduction provides groundbreaking biographical information on Toomer and examines his complex, contradictory racial position as well as his own pioneering views on race. Illustrative materials include government documents containing contradictory information on Toomer’s race, several photographs of Toomer, and a map of Sparta, Georgia—the inspiration for the first and third parts of Cane. The edition reprints the 1923 foreword to Cane by Toomer’s friend Waldo Frank, which helped introduce Toomer to a small but influential readership. Revised and expanded explanatory annotations are also included.

“Backgrounds and Sources” collects a wealth of autobiographical writing that illuminates important phases in Jean Toomer’s intellectual life, including a central chapter from The Wayward and the Seeking and Toomer’s essay on teaching the philosophy of Russian psychologist and mystic Georges I. Gurdjieff, “Why I Entered the Gurdjieff Work.” The volume also reprints thirty of Toomer’s letters from 1919–30, the height of his literary career, to correspondents including Waldo Frank, Sherwood Anderson, Claude McKay, Horace Liveright, Georgia O’Keeffe, and James Weldon Johnson.

An unusually rich “Criticism” section demonstrates deep and abiding interest in Cane. Five contemporary reviews—including those by Robert Littell and W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke—suggest its initial reception. From the wealth of scholarly commentary on Cane, the editors have chosen twenty-one major interpretations spanning eight decades including those by Langston Hughes, Robert Bone, Darwin T. Turner, Charles T. Davis, Alice Walker, Gayl Jones, Barbara Foley, Mark Whalan, and Nellie Y. McKay.

A Chronology, new to the Second Edition, and an updated Selected Bibliography are also included.

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Signs of Race in Poststructuralism: Toward a Transformative Theory of Race

Posted in Books, Monographs, Philosophy, Social Science on 2009-09-08 21:39Z by Steven

Signs of Race in Poststructuralism: Toward a Transformative Theory of Race

University Press of America, Inc.
March 2009
176 pages
6 1/2 x 9 1/2
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-7618-4505-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-7618-4506-5

Robert Young, Associate Professor of English
University of Alabama

This book presents a class-based analysis of poststructuralism and race.  The author positions this fundamental question at the heart of his project: why does race still work if it is commonly misunderstood to be a social construct?  The answer is that race works because it operates like a commodity, and like any commodity, as long as it generates value (understood in the widest possible sense: economic, political, and cultural-ideological value), it will remain in circulation.  This study should contribute to our understanding of race by linking questions of use value to exchange value.

Robert Young is associate professor of English at University of Alabama.  He specializes in African-American literary and cultural theory.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Race as Commodity Fetish
  • Chapter 2: Putting Materialism back into Race Theory: Toward a Transformative Theory of Race
  • Chapter 3: The Linguistic Turn, Materialism, and Race: The Postmodern Crisis in African-American Literary Theory and Richard Wright‘s Critique of Ideology
  • Chapter 4: The Politics of Race and Psychoanalysis: Richard Wright’s Critique of Bourgeois Subjectivity in Savage Holiday
  • Chapter 5: Oral Textualities, Oral (Blues) Poetics, and Oral Erotics: Disabling the Exchange Economy in Gayl JonesCorregidora
  • Bibliography
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