"Color Struck" Under the Gaze: Ethnicity and the Pathology of Being in the Plays of Johnson, Hurston, Childress, Hansberry, and Kennedy

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Praeger, 2003 - Drama - 158 pages
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Using a psychoanalytic approach, the author assesses the consequences of judging persons of color by an impure gaze that undermines their humanity and psychological health. "Color Struck Under the Gaze" examines the characters in the plays of Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880-1966), Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), Alice Childress (1916-1994), and Adrienne Kennedy (1931- ). The author employs the theories of Kristeva, Freud, Lutz, Foucault, Lacan, and Laing to support a psychoanalytic approach that penetrates beneath the surface of the characters, exposing the pathologies therein. A fascinating look at race and perception, this book includes unpublished excerpts from the works of Georgia Douglas Johnson and Zora Neale Hurston.

The identity of the characters, their authors, and their place in the world, is threatened by a division of self, which, the author argues, can lead to schozophrenia, depression, neurasthenia, and paranoia. The resulting identity confusion and personality fragmentation, Bower asserts, pervade the characters' psyches as they are manipulated and judged, not only by a white male hierarchical gaze, but also by the gaze of men and women of their own race who privilege light skin over dark. Bower argues that the schizoid attitudes towards racial differences have not measurably changed.

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Warring Identities in the Life and Plays
Zora Neale
The Psychological Confusion and Racial

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About the author (2003)

MARTHA GILMAN BOWER is a Professor of Graduate Drama, Psychoanalytic Theory and 20th Century American Literature at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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