By Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman
In opposed to the Closet, Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman interrogates and demanding situations cultural theorists' interpretations of sexual transgression in African American literature. She argues that, from the mid-nineteenth century in the course of the 20th, black writers used depictions of erotic transgression to contest well known theories of id, pathology, nationwide belonging, and racial distinction in American tradition. Connecting metaphors of sexual transgression to precise ancient sessions, Abdur-Rahman explains how tropes similar to sadomasochism and incest illuminated the psychodynamics of specific racial accidents and steered varieties of social fix and political redress from the time of slavery, via post-Reconstruction and the civil rights and black strength routine, to the overdue 20th century. Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, serious race, and poststructuralist theories to undergo on literary genres from slave narratives to technology fiction. studying works through African American writers, together with Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she indicates how literary representations of transgressive sexuality expressed the longings of African americans for person and collective freedom. Abdur-Rahman contends that these representations have been basic to the advance of African American different types of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.
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Additional info for Against the Closet: Identity, Political Longing, and Black Figuration
As Douglass himself describes: I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom [the master] used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose. . I remember the ﬁrst time I ever witnessed this horrible exhibition. I was quite a child, but I well remember it. . It struck me with awful force.
Baldwin’s novel Another Country instantiates his ideological alignment with and political investment in the goals of the Civil Rights Movement. Through depictions of pained, longstanding interpersonal relationships that confront and even cross racial, sexual, and class boundaries, Another Country advocates a historical reckoning that would enable egalitarian cooperation—and possibly even reconciliation— between racial groups that contentiously inhabit the same country. Baldwin’s ﬁnal novel, Just Above My Head, promotes among African Americans the practices of self-love, interdependence, and self-determination, principles that, I argue, are rooted in Black Power philosophies.
It was also a system whose internal operations were increasingly denied or veiled by those who beneﬁted from its propagation. On the other hand, slavery was peculiar in a sense more directly associ38 chapter one ated with the economies of desire and sexuality in that it provided a cover under which aberrant sexuality ﬂourished. Under the system of slavery, nonconformist sexual attitudes and behavior found ﬂagrant expression unlike anywhere else in culture. In the eighteenth century and nineteenth, the plantation and the slave quarter became the deﬁnitive locales for the practice and proliferation of outlaw sexual behavior.