Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. v

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

I am frankly amazed and a little embarrassed by the sheer amount of patience, generosity, and good will that have been shown to me and to Once You Go Black as we have developed over the last several years. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awarded me a research grant for the 2002–2003 academic year that enabled me to complete a large amount...

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Introduction: The Existential Negro

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pp. 1-34

I invite you to imagine a rather comically American scenario. The intellectual, a promising young man of color, has made his way to one of the great capitals of Europe. He has established himself in a borrowed apartment, learned the rudiments of the native language, surrounded himself...

Going Black

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1. The Funny Father’s Luck

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pp. 37-67

Once You Go Black is concerned with individual intellectuals, their works, the reception of their works, their biographies, and indeed the reception of their biographies. Or to put the matter more straightforwardly still, Once You Go Black greedily partakes in a suspect, if not altogether outmoded, literary historical method built around great men and their great books. ...

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2. Ralph Ellison’s Blues

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pp. 68-95

We have been continually reminded ever since that remarkable day in 1952 when Ralph Waldo Ellison first exploded onto the American literary scene that the genius which took hold of Ellison and made itself known through his writing was indistinct from the genius on display in the performances of the greatest of twentieth-century blues and jazz musicians. ...

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3. Alas Poor Jimmy

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pp. 96-118

I beg your indulgence as I take a moment to readjust the clumsy apparatuses with which I am attempting to demonstrate some of the finer points of midtwentieth-century Black American intellectual “crisis.” I ask that you forgive my obvious disorientation, the enervating vertigo that makes itself apparent with each laborious sentence. Indeed I fear that...

Coming Back?

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4. Saint Huey

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pp. 121-145

And so it seems we have turned the page—books, music, and dictionaries (American and Continental) all a bit tattered and somehow inadequate in the face of the heat, figurative and quite literal, that has flooded this bright and now somewhat less than airy apartment. Once You Go Black has grown unruly; it has developed (this was also its first year abroad) into a somewhat less than respectable example of Black American...

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5. Queer Sweetback

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pp. 146-168

I begin with a question: What sort of moment is this in which to pose the question of a queer black studies? Moreover, in posing this question one must immediately repeat the now fundamental observation that these moments are always conjunctural, that they have their historical specificity; and although they always exhibit similarities...

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Conclusion: Deviant Desiring

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pp. 169-174

I invite you to imagine a rather comically American scenario. The intellectual, a promising young man of color, has made his way to one of the great capitals of Europe. He has established himself in a borrowed apartment, learned the rudiments of the native language, surrounded himself with books and music, all American of course, and settled down to write. But he is, as is often the case with Americans...

Notes

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pp. 175-180

Index

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pp. 181-183

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About the Author

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p. 184

Robert Reid-Pharr is Professor of English and American Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Black Gay Man: Essays (available from NYU Press) and Conjugal Union: The Body, the House and the Black American.