Cover

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Title page, Series page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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p. vii

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Introduction: Against Positive Images

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pp. 1-16

Abstractionist Aesthetics is a theoretical polemic concerned with the critical potential of African American expressive culture. It is premised on the widely accepted (if debatable) notion that such culture consists in works and practices that both originate among and in some way represent the experiences of African American people...

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1 Black Personhood in the Maw of Abstraction

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pp. 17-68

It may be hard to imagine at this point, but there was a time, during the late 1990s, when the acclaimed visual artist Kara Walker was the target of intense criticism from fellow members of the African American creative community.1 The problem, according to her antagonists—chief among them the prominent assemblage artist...

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2 Historical Cadence and the Nitty-Gritty Effect

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pp. 69-116

It may be hard to imagine at this point, but there was a time, during the late 1990s, when the acclaimed visual artist Kara Walker was the target of intense criticism from fellow members of the African American creative community.1 The problem, according to her antagonists—chief among them the prominent assemblage artist...

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3 Telling It Slant

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pp. 117-160

If it is specifically by means of narrative that any cultural instance is constituted narrative function that Kara Walker’s imagery became susceptible to African Americanist critique during the late 1990s, inasmuch as the “sexual abuse” and “hypersexuality” that Walker

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Coda: The Literary Advantage

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pp. 161-180

There are, of course, many ways of telling a story, which means that there are also many different possible mechanisms for achieving the narrative disruption that I have discussed in the foregoing pages. Consider, for instance, a pivotal early scene in the 2009 film Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire.1 The adolescent...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 181-184

This book has had many beginnings, none more crucial than my spring 2002 graduate seminar “Problems in the Representation of Blackness,” where I was privileged to test my ideas on the following students in NYU’s American Studies and English programs: Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman, Rich Blint, Emily Cone-Miller, Sybil Cooksey...

Notes

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pp. 185-236

Bibliography

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pp. 237-262

Index

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pp. 263-279

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About the Author

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pp. 280-280

Phillip Brian Harper is Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Literature at New York University, where he teaches in the Departments of Social and Cultural Analysis and of...