Callaloo

Callaloo
Volume 26, Number 3, Summer 2003


Contents

Poetry

Fiction

Interview

Nonfiction

    Braziel, Jana Evans, 1967-
  • Trans-American Constructions of Black Masculinity: Dany Laferrière, le Nègre, and the Late Capitalist American Racial machine-désirante
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    Subject Headings:
    • Laferrière, Dany. Comment faire l'amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer.
    • Masculinity in literature.
    • Blacks in literature.
    Abstract:
      Dany Laferrière's literary writings explode North American constructions of black masculinity, and in this paper, I explore how Laferrière configures le Nègre as an explosive dynamic within the late capitalist, American machine-désirante (“desiring machine”). As a Haitian-born writer who has lived in New York, Montréal, and Miami, as well as in Port-au-Prince and Petit-Goâve, Laferrière diasporizes constructions of black masculinity within trans-American landscapes. Splicing recent cultural criticism on black masculinity by African American scholars with theoretical writings by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari on the “desiring machine,” this paper offers a re-reading of Laferrière's first and still most scandalous novel Comment faire l'amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer, focusing on the author's textual engagements with other black men--James Baldwin, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Miles Davis, Chester Himes, Spike Lee, Derek Walcott, Richard Wright, and Frantz Fanon, but especially Himes and Fanon--rather than his protagonist's sexploits with archetypal white women (Miz Littérature, Miz Beauté, Miz Suicide, and a coterie of others). Laferrière thus enters into the “sexual-textual” boxing ring of the American cultural imaginary: by engaging in ideological debate with other black male writers, Laferrière reveals how race-sex operates within the late capitalist, American “desiring machine” and shows how this operative mechanism can be exploited to jam the cultural machine.
    Brown, Stephanie.
    Clark, Keith, 1963-
  • Melodramas of Beset Black Manhood? Meditations on African-American Masculinity as Scholarly Topos and Social Menace: An Introduction
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    Subject Headings:
    • American literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism.
    • African American men in literature.
    • Masculinity in literature.
    Breu, Christopher.
  • Freudian Knot or Gordian Knot? The Contradictions of Racialized Masculinity in Chester Himes' If He Hollers Let Him Go
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    Subject Headings:
    • Himes, Chester B., 1909- If he hollers let him go.
    • Masculinity in literature.
    • African American men in literature.
    Abstract:
      This article situates Chester Himes' hard-boiled excoriation of American racism, If He Hollers Let Him Go, in relationship to larger critical and political debates about the value and limitations of negative representation. Taking Himes' use of the forms of negative representation associated with the hard-boiled narrative as its jumping off point, the article argues that Himes' novel, in its representation of the violence that overdetermines black and white social and sexual relationships, reveals the specific forms of negativity that structure the social field in the United States. Positioned historically between the broad social mapping of Native Son and the surrealist psychological narrative of Invisible Man, as well as more broadly between the proletarian aesthetic of the thirties and the popular psychodramas of the fifties, If He Hollers Let Him Go gives a unique account of the ways in which the intersection between psychological and material forms of racism-or as Himes puts it Freudian and Gordian knots--shape the position of the black male subject. In addressing these dual forms of racism, Himes' novel engages in a form of negative fantasy-work: revealing the ways in which the negations experienced by the black male subject are structured in part through the sexualizing fantasies constructed by a white supremacist culture as well as by the same culture's systematic erasure of the distinction between fantasy and action. This fantasy-work forms a key part of the anti-racist praxis that the novel implicitly suggests, a praxis of working-through the Freudian knots and cutting through the Gordian knots of American racism.
    Kang, Nancy.
  • To Love and Be Loved: Considering Black Masculinity and the Misandric Impulse in Toni Morrison's Beloved
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    Subject Headings:
    • Morrison, Toni. Beloved.
    • Masculinity in literature.
    • African American men in literature.
    Abstract:
      This article seeks both to reassert and reassess the importance of the masculine presence in Toni Morrison's Beloved. It does so by examining a thematics of misandry. The hatred or phobia of men, as well as the literary engagement with its problematics, stand as part of a larger consideration of black social formation during the instabilities of the post-bellum period. Discussing misandry partakes in a counter-discourse that acknowledges the primacy of feminist readings of the text while suggesting that an evaluation of black femininity cannot be fully appreciated without that of black masculinity. Morrison's text offers a rich array of instances where the corrosion of masculine selfhood corresponds to a breakdown of social and domestic order. With Paul D. as its primary focus, the argument interrogates the parallel constructions of race and racial uplift, selective presentations of nationhood, the failure of nostalgia, and the enduring desire for more conducive sites for the development of self.
    Lamm, Kimberly.
  • Visuality and Black Masculinity in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Romare Bearden's Photomontages
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    Subject Headings:
    • Ellison, Ralph. Invisible man.
    • Bearden, Romare, 1911-1988 -- Criticism and interpretation.
    • Masculinity in literature.
    • African American men in literature.
    • Masculinity in art.
    • African American men in art.
    Lerner, Mitchell B., 1968-
  • Howard Arthur Tibbs, 1919-1986: A Tuskegee Airman's Story in Pictures
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    Subject Headings:
    • Tibbs, Howard Arthur, 1919-1986.
    • African American soldiers -- Alabama -- Tuskegee -- Portraits.
    • World War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, African American.
    Miller, Monica L.
  • W.E.B. Du Bois and the Dandy as Diasporic Race Man
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    Subject Headings:
    • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. Dark princess.
    • African American men in literature.
    • Masculinity in literature.
    • Dandies in literature.
    Abstract:
      Contemporary critics have read The Souls of Black Folk (1903) as a masculinist text that, in Hazel Carby's words, reveals the “highly gendered structures of intellectual and political thought and feeling” in Du Bois' work. However, “W.E.B. Du Bois and the Dandy as Diasporic R ace Man” argues that Du Bois's concern with black male leadership style began before the writing of Souls and continues well after it, in his less well-known writing. While still a young scholar, Du Bois wrote about an African American “feminine man” who, in joining with the more “masculine” Teutonic would produce a common human/American civilization by a racial division of labor. In his 1928 novel, Dark Princess, this “feminine man” finds his story as a dandified Du Bois-like member of the Talented-Tenth charged with fomenting a revolution against a world-wide color line. With this activist-dandy, whose nattily-clad body signifies on, rather than blindly accepts, masculinist tropes, Du Bois realizes a long-standing wish for racial leadership by what he calls “men who were--different.”
    Rebhorn, Matthew.
  • Flaying Dutchman: Masochism, Minstrelsy, and the Gender Politics of Amiri Baraka's Dutchman
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    Subject Headings:
    • Baraka, Imamu Amiri, 1934- Dutchman.
    • Masculinity in literature.
    • Sex in literature.
    Abstract:
      This article explores how the notion of black masculinity embodied by Clay in Amiri Baraka's important play, Dutchman, only surfaces in relation to the complicated picture of femininity Baraka stages in the figure of Lula. Lula's characterization allows her to embody white femininity, and through a form of "blackface" minstrelsy, to mimic the same black masculinity Baraka was after in Clay's final, angry monologue. By tracing how race and gender categories circulate in Lula's minstrel performance, however, the defining trait of Baraka's new Dutchman of the 1960s emerges--namely, his endless desire for punishment, his unyielding self-"flaying." By putting pressure on the scope of Lula's complex performance, this article also reveals how Lula's own masochistic white femininity forecloses the same sexual liberty and agency she achieved when she metaphorically "blacked up." In this way, Baraka's ironic treatment of Lula and Clay's intricate, interrelated power plays in the end not only illustrates the self-destructive tragedy of black nationalist masculintiy, but also underscores the way white femininity's trafficking in this currency of blackness as a method of empowerment is doomed, like the Dutchman Lula emulates, to suffer endlessly the scene of her own debilitation.
    Tettenborn, Éva.
  • "Will the big boys finally love you": The Impossibility of Black Male Homoerotic Desire and the Taboo of Black Homosexual Solidarity in Thomas Glave's "Whose Song?"
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    Subject Headings:
    • Glave, Thomas. Whose song? and other stories.
    • African American men in literature.
    • Gays in literature.
    Abstract:
      Problematizes the role of male compulsive heteronormative behavior in Thomas Glave's short story. The short story focuses on the portrayal of a crime, the gang rape of a young black lesbian, Cassandra, committed by three young black men, Robbie, Bernard, and Dee. The article argues that while the three men appear to commit the atrocity instead of embracing their own varied homosexual identities, Cassandra's gang rape actually functions as their covert homoerotic bonding ritual. In a society that views black gay identities as one of the biggest taboos, the three criminals choose to veil their true identities by acting like and as stereotypical black rapists. Faced with contemporary identity politics, they find it easier to conform to the stereotype rather than challenge the taboo and live in solidarity with each other and Cassandra. The article underlines that Glave's sustained focus on the perspective of the perpetrators (rather than the victim) heightens his critique of the social effects of compulsive heterosexuality within and beyond the black community.

Reviews

    Keeling, Kara, 1971-
  • Returning the Gaze: A Genealogy of Black Film Criticism, 1909-1949 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Everett, Anna, 1954- Returning the gaze: a genealogy of Black film criticism, 1909-1949.
    • African Americans in motion pictures.
    Sivanarayanan, Anushiya.
  • Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Chafe, William Henry, ed. Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans tell about life in the segregated South.
    • African Americans -- Segregation -- Southern States -- History.
    Stokes, Mason Boyd.
  • Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Nugent, Bruce, 1906-1987. Gay rebel of the Harlem renaissance: selections from the work of Richard Bruce Nugent.
    • Wirth, Thomas H., 1938-, ed.
    • African American gays -- Literary collections.
    Zagarell, Sandra A.
  • Impossible Witness: Truth, Abolitionism, and Slave Testimony (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • McBride, Dwight A. Impossible witness: truth, abolitionism, and slave testimony.
    • American prose literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism.



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