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Against the Closet: Identity, Political Longing, and Black by Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman

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 during the 20th, black writers used depictions of erotic transgression to contest well known theories of identification, pathology, nationwide belonging, and racial distinction in American tradition. Connecting metaphors of sexual transgression to express old classes, Abdur-Rahman explains how tropes reminiscent of sadomasochism and incest illuminated the psychodynamics of specific racial accidents and advised different types of social fix and political redress from the time of slavery, via post-Reconstruction and the civil rights and black energy events, to the overdue 20th century. Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, severe race, and poststructuralist theories to undergo on literary genres from slave narratives to technology fiction. studying works by way of African American writers, together with Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she exhibits 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 improvement of African American different types of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.

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Extra info for Against the Closet: Identity, Political Longing, and Black Figuration

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Moreover, as a brilliant purveyor of American history in racial terms and as a great aesthetician in the realm of literary production, Faulkner is key to my study of narrative stylization, particularly as it is inflected by racial iconography and sexual non-normativity. This chapter illuminates the ways in which imaginative depictions of lynching function to call our attention to the proliferation of lynching as the white communal e√ort to fix racial hierarchies in the absence of slavery’s organization and operational logic.

Noting that slave narratives document the inner workings of slavery in ways that the o≈cial records do not, I use slave narratives for their dual function as both historical documents and a literary genre. To engage theories, as well as the history, of the production of sexuality, this chapter emphasizes the ways in which two slave narratives that ‘‘the strangest freaks of despotism’’ 27 have amassed significant cultural capital authorize a particular set of historical race relations and embody and influence sexual ideology.

I am at once beholden to identity politics, particularly for their force of mobilization under the rubric of social justice, even as I am highly skeptical of taxonomies of di√erence and various nationalisms. This book cannot be categorized according to strict disciplinary boundaries or one discursive regime. I fruitfully engage the domains of African American studies, psychoanalysis, sociology, queer theory, and gender studies. I, moreover, use a performative theory of blackness that recognizes its ability to serve as a signifier that accumulates di√erent meanings in di√erent cultural and literary contexts and to carry a whole host of assumptions.

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