AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Black mourning : readings of loss, desire, and racial identification

by Jennifer Denise Williams

Institution: University of Texas – Austin
Department: English
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: African American literature; African American cultural texts; Loss; Racial identification; Trauma theory; Cultural memory; Black subjectivity
Record ID: 2062671
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2152/29692


Black Mourning: Readings of Loss, Desire and Racial Identification explores a diverse archive of African American literary and cultural texts in order to reveal loss as a necessary condition of racial identification. To support this assertion, this study broaches a theoretical gap that persists between black literary and cultural studies and revisionist approaches to psychoanalytic theory. Using the lens of trauma theory, Black Mourning reframes cultural memory and black subjectivity in ways that supplant performances of racial authenticity with an affective politics. Black expressive culture and performance aesthetics undergird this critical model. Chapter One "Jean Toomer's Cane and the Erotics of Mourning" configures cultural memory in relation to the formation of modern blackness. Chapter Two "'Nobody Knows My Name': Ann Petry's The Street and Black Women’s Blues Protest" uses a blues aesthetic to access hidden texts of black female sexual trauma. Chapter Three "The Queerness of Blackness: Marlon Riggs's Black Is … Black Ain't" looks at embodied trauma as an a foundation for reimagining black collectivity. The fourth chapter "Archiving Blackness: Danzy Senna's Caucasia and Post-Soul Aesthetics" moves beyond fixed narratives of race to conceptualize innovative ways of archiving blackness.