Sandra Gunning

in Rape, Race, and Lynching

Published in print February 1997 | ISBN: 9780195099904
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855100 | DOI:

Series: Race and American Culture


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Some criminal cases from the nineteenth to the twentieth century which involve black masculinity do not refer to white violence but its possibility, because these cases are still filtered through and help construct coalescing race, class, and gender anxieties among many Americans, both black and white. The author challenges the reading of public discourse on race, sex, and violence. The various black masculinities involved in the different literary works function as a kind of imagistic register where one may trace self-articulations of white communities under the stress of post-Reconstruction economic, social, and artistic politics and in the face of relentlessly shifting class and gender power relations. In comparison to their white counterparts, black writers and activists obviously had very different readings of alleged black male criminality and of whiteness itself. In this book, the author has been engaged in her own desires as a feminist, African American, and an Americanist to change notions of canon and methods of literary study. The various cases and juxtapositions involved in the book are attempts to use the possibilities of critical invention to interrogate the black make as criminal, hoping to open up or clarify more avenues for readers and researchers to reimagine literary and cultural divisions that many have generally disregarded.

Keywords: white violence; post-Reconstruction; African American; Americanist; race; critical invention

Chapter.  5984 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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