Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination
Publication Year: 2010
“A powerful theoretical statement in the emerging field of black queer studies, Extravagant Abjection makes the bold claim that it is necessary to work through and not simply to ‘white wash’ the political, social, ideological, and psychological consequences of what Darieck Scott names ‘black abjection.’ Building upon the insights of the more articulate practitioners of bondage and submission, Sadism and Masochism, Scott’s readings of key texts in twentieth century Black American literature are at once sophisticated, provocative, creative, and indeed titillating. This book will surely become a ‘dark’ classic.”
Published by: NYU Press
Title Page, Copyright
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I CANNOT THANK enough Julie Carlson and Lisa Moore, who contributed hours and ergs of intellectual and editorial support—as well as calming professional advice—through several stages of the development of Extravagant Abjection: true dear friends and super-colleagues both. Many other colleagues and friends in the English departments...
Introduction: Blackness, Abjection, and Sexuality
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LET US TAKE this dialogue, from a novel which is in many ways the ur-text and bible of my project, as an instructive fable, a fragment to expound upon for a sermon. Sethe’s decision to murder her toddler daughter—a decision we should be careful not to name as a choice, at least not without troubling assumptions about individual agency that are commonplace...
1. Fanon’s Muscles: (Black) Power Revisited
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I WANT TO begin my exploration of blackness in its relation to abjection and sexuality where this relation is at once seen to be foundational, and strenuously denied, by following the flow of two currents I identified earlier, Fanon and Black Power/Black Arts. In doing so I want to explore as thoroughly as I can the key theoretical questions and terms of this...
2. “A Race That Could Be So Dealt With”: Terror, Time, and (Black) Power
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The figure of the Negro, Fanon says, is “woven . . . out of a thousand details, anecdotes, stories.” Blackness is lived, but it is a representation. Even if, as we believe, all identities and subjectivities are falsities of this sort, imagos as hollow as old bones that language or father or the forces of economic production generate, blackness is a representation of rather...
3. Slavery, Rape, and the Black Male Abject
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How does the recognition—or the embrace—of blackness in its abjection play out? In the terms of the texts I have examined so far, in what further way can we adduce the abilities of the black/native in his state of productive muscle tension, and what shape might the Ex-Coloured Man’s life take if he did not refuse traumatic (and traumatized) blackness...
Notes on Black (Power) Bottoms
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HOMOPHOBIA, MORE THAN heterosexism, on the part of readers (anticipated and actual) and perhaps even to some degree the author herself, cordons off Paul D’s sexual humiliation by white men in Beloved. Paul D and Sethe know and yet choose not to take up fully the implications of Paul D’s experience, and this choice is both a reflection and an emblem...
4. The Occupied Territory: Homosexuality and History in Amiri Baraka’s Black Arts
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THE CARTOGRAPHIC METAPHORS of zones, territories, and borders seem apt for examining representations of sexuality in the writing of Black Power and Black Arts Movement intellectuals during the Sixties. In the works of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Eldridge Cleaver, and others—as for Frantz Fanon, at least in the early work...
5. Porn and the N-Word: Lust, Samuel Delany’s The Mad Man, and a Derangement of Body and Sense(s)
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I have been attempting to develop an understanding of the qualities and abilities that become available through (or which themselves partially constitute) blackness-in/as-abjection. Yet the relation between blackness and abjection, while effected historically and in the present primarily by economic, military, and political means, is experientially....
Conclusion: Extravagant Abjection
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ALL OF WHICH is to say: power works abusively, but not only in the ways that we might expect. That the abusiveness of power should be generative, just as the constraints and repressions of power are, is no surprise; but what exactly is generated in abuse for the abused is harder to limn. To perform that illumination we struggle to bring within the ambit...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2010