/ “A Having Way”: Fetishism and the Black Bourgeoisie in Passing

Dorothy Stringer

in Not Even Past

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780823231478
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241088 | DOI:

Series: American Literatures Initiative

/ “A Having Way”: Fetishism and the Black Bourgeoisie in Passing

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Trauma studies often identify traumatic writing with modernist formal experimentation, particularly estranging, unsympathetic, anti-traditionalist gestures. Familiar axioms of trauma studies are not only theoretical concepts, but also technical and ethical precepts. Many critiques of trauma theory and the field of trauma studies have remarked its strange, impervious critical optimism, and some suggest therefore that a trauma study has reached the limit of its usefulness. Early black novelists often depended heavily on mass mediated, normatively white bourgeois class markers and moral imperatives, even when illustrating communitarian and culturalist theses. Passing themes can coexist with conventional plots. Sardonic refers etymologically to a Sardinian plant supposed to produce convulsive laughter ending in death, and sardony is hence allied with traumatic repetition. Yet sardony is emphatically not irony, not an element of tragedy. Fetishes have always mediated the relationships among black people, white profit, and spiritual values.

Keywords: trauma studies; fetishism; sardony; black novelists; gestures; repetition; black people

Chapter.  8276 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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