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Searching for the New Black Man

Black Masculinity and Women's Bodies

Ronda C. Henry Anthony

Publication Year: 2013

Using the slave narratives of Henry Bibb and Frederick Douglass, as well as the work of W. E. B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Walter Mosley, and Barack Obama, Ronda C. Henry Anthony examines how women's bodies are used in African American literature to fund the production of black masculine ideality and power. In tracing representations of ideal black masculinities and femininities, Henry Anthony shows how black men's struggles for gendered agency are inextricably bound up with their complicated relation to white men and normative masculinity. The historical context in which Henry Anthony couches these struggles highlights the extent to which shifting socioeconomic circumstances dictate the ideological, cultural, and emotional terms upon which black men conceptualize identity.

Yet, Henry Anthony quickly moves to texts that challenge traditional constructions of black masculinity. In these texts Henry Anthony traces how the emergence of collaboratively-gendered discourses, or a blending of black female/male feminist consciousnesses, are reshaping black masculinities, femininities, and intraracial relations for a new century.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Cover

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Quite a few people have been vitally important to the completion of this book. I’ve been working on this project for so long that I could not have sustained progress without their help, consideration, and willingness to allow me to work on this instead of other things. Their patience, strength, guidance, and wisdom have made this book possible. ...

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Introduction: Searching for the “New Black Man”? From Masculine Ideality to Progressive Black Masculinities

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pp. 3-20

I was first introduced to Richard Wright’s Native Son in an undergraduate African American literature course. My professor explained that in 1940, the year Native Son was published, Wright’s novel was considered revolutionary. He asserted that the novel’s greatness resided in several areas: its constructions of black masculinity; ...

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Chapter One: Dominant versus Subordinate Masculinities and the Gendered Oppositions between Slavery and Freedom

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pp. 21-53

As I begin my study with “a representative historical episode that helps render black masculinity evolutionary, frame by frame” (Wallace 9), there can be no more representative literary historical episode than the period during which the influence of slave narratives reached its zenith. ...

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Chapter Two: Unsexing the Black Girl to Get to the Indian Princess: The Production of Talented-Tenth Black Masculine Power and the Cleansing and Transcending of Black (Wo) Manhood in W. E. B. Du Bois

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pp. 54-98

W. E. B. Du Bois’s work, roughly from the end of the nineteenth century to 1930, largely set the terms for conceptualizations of black masculine ideality in twentieth-century African American literature. Within this chapter’s primary texts—The Souls of Black Folk (1903), The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911), Darkwater (1920), and Dark Princess (1928) ...

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Chapter Three: “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”: James Baldwin, Cross-Racial/Sexual Bond(age)ing, and the Cult of Hegemonic Black Masculinity

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pp. 99-126

According to Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) and “How Bigger Was Born,” the black masculine must always (and at all costs) be coded as powerful and, by implication, the feminized coded as weak and dangerous in its threat to the stability of the expression of power within the terms of ideal masculinity. ...

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Chapter Four: Breakin’ the Rules: Socrates Fortlow, Ethics, and Walter Mosley’s Constructions of Progressive Black Masculinities

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pp. 127-150

Mosley develops a conception of everyday reality applicable to the urban, socioeconomically depressed community Socrates lives in. Throughout both collections, Mosley constructs Socrates as a character who comes to his own understandings of the world: what is right and how to put it into practice. ...

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Chapter Five: Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, the Economies of Respectable Black Manhood and Leadership, and the Politics of Collaboratively Gendered Black Male Feminist Autobiography

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pp. 151-178

In The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W. E. B. Du Bois establishes the terms of respectable black manhood and leadership for the new century. Using previous determinations of ideal masculinity constructed by men like Martin Delany, Alexander Crummell, and Frederick Douglass, Du Bois consolidates his figurations of talented-tenth masculinity to empower black men and uplift the folk masses. ...

Notes

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pp. 179-183

Works Cited

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pp. 184-188

Index

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pp. 189-192


E-ISBN-13: 9781621039259
E-ISBN-10: 1621039250
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617037344

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies

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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism.
  • Masculinity in literature.
  • Femininity in literature.
  • Human body in literature.
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