Race and the Literary Encounter: Black Literature from James Weldon Johnson to Percival Everett

By Lesley Larkin | Go to book overview

Notes

Introduction

1. Harris-Lacewell is now known as Melissa Harris-Perry.

2. On problematic claims to postracialism, see Suki Ali’s Mixed-Race, Post-Race, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Racism without Racists, Erica Edwards’s “The Black President Hokum,” Rebecca L. Clark Mane’s “Transmuting Grammars of Whiteness in Third-Wave Feminism” (76–79), Ramón Saldívar’s “The Second Elevation of the Novel,” and Alys Eve Weinbaum’s “Racial Aura.”

3. I use “antiracist” here to describe opposition to white supremacy and racial hierarchy on both personal and social levels. Antiracist reading practices, as I define them, challenge the reproduction of personal racial prejudice; the reproduction of the relations of production that undergird a racist social, political, and economic order (including the interpellation of persons into socially disciplined racial categories); and the reproduction of structural inequity. Antiracist reading draws readers’ attention to personal prejudice and social inequity and enjoins readers to take responsibility for creating a more just society.

4. On the “neo-slave narrative,” see Bell’s The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition (285–305), Ashraf H. A. Rushdy’s “The Neo-Slave Narrative,” and Valerie Smith’s “Neo-Slave Narratives.”

5. “The basic dynamic through which most twentieth-century African American literature has been produced derives from an expectation that the individual text will represent the black experience (necessarily understood as exotic) for the white, and therefore implicitly universal, audience” (J. Young 12).

6. In “Unspeakable Things Unspoken” (1989), Morrison provides a partial answer to this question by describing her own efforts to write ethically within this context.

7. These concepts align with David Palumbo-Liu’s call for a reading practice that focuses on the institutions that “deliver” otherness to us, that is, “a self-reflective act that puts the question of ethics before that of epistemology” (196).

8. Robert Stepto points particularly to a “storytelling” tradition in African American letters that prompts readers to identify with a listener identified or implied in the text: “Only the storytelling paradigm posits that readers, in ‘constituting’ themselves through engaging the text, become hearers, with all that that implies in terms of how one may sustain through reading the responsibilities of listenership

-215-

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Race and the Literary Encounter: Black Literature from James Weldon Johnson to Percival Everett
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Blacks in the Diaspora ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Scenes of Reading, Scenes of Racialization- Modern and Contemporary Black Literature 3
  • One - Unbinding the Double Audience 33
  • Two - Speakerly Reading 65
  • Three - Close Reading "You" 93
  • Four - Erasing Precious 125
  • Five - Reading and Being Read 165
  • Epilogue - Toward a Theory and Pedagogy of Responsible Reading 191
  • Notes 215
  • Bibliography 245
  • Index 261
  • Blacks in the Diaspora 279
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