Abstract

The category of black humor has a racial resonance when applied to American fiction of the 1960s. A recurrent object of critical interest in this body of comic writing was the function of "blackness" in the formation of "white" identities. In Bruce Jay Friedman's "Black Angels" and Terry Southern's "Twirlin' At Ole Miss" desperate individuals are shown negotiating their sense of self in ambivalent exchanges with an imaginary other. Thomas Pynchon, in "The Secret Integration," analyzes an adolescent act of imitation across racial lines as an effort to overcome socially prescribed differences. And in "Lost in the Funhouse," John Barth locates racialized fantasy as a constitutive element of sexual maturation.

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