Troubling Vision

Nicole R. Fleetwood

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780226253022
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226253053 | DOI:
Troubling Vision

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This book addresses American culture's fixation on black visibility, exploring how blackness is persistently seen as a problem in public culture and even in black scholarship that challenges racist discourse. It reorients the problem of black visibility by turning attention to what it means to see blackness and to the performative codes that reinforce, resignify, and disrupt its meaning. Working across visual theory and performance studies, the book asks: How can the black body can be visualized as both familiar and disruptive? How might we investigate the black body as a troubling presence to the scopic regimes that define it as such? How is value assessed based on visible blackness? The book documents multiple forms of engagement with the visual, even as it meticulously underscores how the terms of engagement change in various performative contexts. Examining a range of practices from the documentary photography of Charles “Teenie” Harris to the “excess flesh” performances of black female artists and pop stars, to the media art of Fatimah Tuggar to the iconicity of Michael Jackson, it reveals and reconfigures the mechanics, codes, and metaphors of blackness in visual culture.

Keywords: black visibility; blackness; visual theory; performative codes; excess flesh; black female artists

Book.  296 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Troubling Vision


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