Chapter

Re-Membering Blackness After Reconstruction: Race, Rape, and Political Desire in the Work of Thomas Dixon, Jr.

Sandra Gunning

in Rape, Race, and Lynching

Published in print February 1997 | ISBN: 9780195099904
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855100 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195099904.003.0002

Series: Race and American Culture

Re-Membering Blackness After Reconstruction: Race, Rape, and Political Desire in the Work of Thomas Dixon, Jr.

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The first part of this chapter discusses authors and their works which involve black and white races and rape. Late-nineteenth-century American writers did not create the stereotype of the rapist, but their work became a forum for the playing out of what was virtually a national obsession with the black male body. The later part of the chapter focuses on the works of Thomas Dixon Jr., whose work ultimately talked about white supremacy and made figurations of black men as lustful Negro beasts. The discussion focuses on how, in The Leopard's Spots: A Romance of the White Man's Burden—1865–1900 (1902) and The Clansman (1905), when his heroes find their masculinity threatened by the very space of white domesticity they have vowed to protect, Dixon enlists proscribed uses of violence to resolve white male confusion and conflict over the changing definitions of gender roles. It also talks about how the ideal of white masculinity in Dixon's narratives is in danger of capitulating to a white erotic obsession with monstrous blackness as seen in his novel, The Sins of the Father. In this novel, Dixon felt compelled to confront the problem of white male/black female miscegenation centrally. Dixon's popular race novels achieved their success because they explore a fantasy of white male rescue enacted through the subordination of black men and white women.

Keywords: Thomas Dixon Jr; Negro beast; Leopard's Spots; The Clansman; Sins; subordination

Chapter.  14036 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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