The Souls of White Folk
African American Writers Theorize Whiteness
Publication Year: 2013
The Souls of White Folk: African American Writers Theorize Whiteness is the first study to consider the substantial body of African American writing that critiques whiteness as social construction and racial identity. Arguing against the prevailing approach to these texts that says African American writers retreated from issues of "race" when they wrote about whiteness, Veronica T. Watson instead identifies this body of literature as an African American intellectual and literary tradition that she names "the literature of white estrangement."
In chapters that theorize white double consciousness (W. E. B. Du Bois and Charles Chesnutt), white womanhood and class identity (Zora Neale Hurston and Frank Yerby), and the socio-spatial subjectivity of southern whites during the civil rights era (Melba Patillo Beals), Watson explores the historically situated theories and analyses of whiteness provided by the literature of white estrangement from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. She argues that these texts are best understood as part of a multipronged approach by African American writers to challenge and dismantle white supremacy in the United States and demonstrates that these texts have an important place in the growing field of critical whiteness studies.
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
Download PDF (113.7 KB)
Title Page, Copyright
Download PDF (65.4 KB)
Download PDF (56.9 KB)
A Note on Capitalization
Download PDF (42.8 KB)
Conventions governing the capitalization of racial identifiers are currently in flux. Some prefer a uniform approach of capitalizing terms referring to racial groups, such as African American, Black, Latino, or Asian Ameri-can. Pseudoscientific classifications like Caucasian and Anglo-American are typically included in this practice, but more commonly used terms ...
Download PDF (60.6 KB)
This book is truly a collaborative product. The seeds for it were planted in a graduate class I took at Rice University in the 1990s, when Dr. Susan Lurie included in her syllabus a little-discussed, little-regarded novel by Zora Neale Hurston, Seraph on the Suwanee. I never forgot that novel, or the rich conversations my peers and I had about it that semester. When I ...
Introduction: NAMING: The Literature of White Estrangement
Download PDF (80.8 KB)
...produced in us an overwhelming longing to look, a rebellious desire, an oppositional gaze. By courageously looking, we defiantly declared: In 1860, William J. Wilson, writing under the pseudonym Ethiop, pub-lished an article entitled “What Shall We Do with the White People?,” an irreverent essay that turns the nineteenth-century debate about the fitness ...
Chapter One: “A FORM OF INSANITY WHICH OVERTAKES WHITE MEN”
Download PDF (221.6 KB)
What is most terrible is that American white men are not prepared to believe my version of the story, to believe that it happened. In order to avoid believing that, they have to set up in themselves a fantastic system of evasions, denials, and justifications, which system is about to destroy their grasp of reality, which is another way of saying their moral sense....
Chapter Two: “SHAPING HERSELF INTO A DUTIFUL WIFE”
Download PDF (223.8 KB)
The novel’s complexities . . . arise . . . because of her struggle to address an almost completely buried subject: the interdependent working of power, race, and sexuality in a white woman’s battle for coherence.theorizing . . . is often in narrative forms, in the stories we create.White woman. The phrase conjures up images of refinement, elegance, ...
Chapter Three: “OCCUPIED TERRITORY”
Download PDF (138.8 KB)
The white man is more afraid of separation than he is of integration.In silence, we have spent our years watching the ofays, trying to under-stand them, on the principle that you have a better chance coping with the known than with the unknown. Some of us have been, and some still are, interested in learning whether it is ultimately possible to live in ...
Conclusion: “NO WHITE AND LEGAL HEIR”
Download PDF (101.8 KB)
...only hope, then one has got to accept that I have learned a lot from you, and a lot of it is bitter, but you have a lot to learn Grieving is not the same as seeing the shadow in everyone but yourself.African American intellectuals have a long, rich history of critical engage-ment with constructions of Whiteness. From W. E. B. Du Bois’s and Charles ...
Download PDF (100.1 KB)
Download PDF (99.9 KB)
Download PDF (277.7 KB)
Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies