Racial Myths and Masculinity in African American Literature
The portrayal of black men in our national literature is controversial, complex, andoften contradictory. In Racial Myths and Masculinity in African American Literature, Jeffrey B. Leak identifies some of the long-held myths and stereotypes that persist in the work of black writers from the nineteenth century to the present?intellectual inferiority, criminality, sexual prowess, homosexual emasculation, and cultural deprivation. Utilizing Robert B. Stepto's call-and-response theory, Leak studies four pairs of novels within the context of certain myths, identifying the literary tandems between them and seeking to discover the source of our culture's psychological preoccupation with black men.Calling upon interdisciplinary fields of study?literary theory, psychoanalysis, genderstudies, legal theory, and queer theory?Leak offers groundbreaking analysis of bothcanonical texts (representing the ?call? of the call-and-response dyad) and texts by emerging writers (representing the ?response?), including Frederick Douglass and CharlesJohnson; Ralph Ellison and Brent Wade; Richard Wright and Ernest J. Gaines; and ToniMorrison and David Bradley. Though Leak does not claim that the ?response? texts aresuperior to the ?call? texts, he does argue that, in some cases, the newer work?such asCharles Johnson's Oxherding Tale?can address a theme or offer a narrative innovationnot found in preceding texts, such as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. In these instances, argues Leak, the newer texts constitute not only a response to the call text, but a substantial revision.Leak offers the first in-depth criticism of black masculinity in a range of literarytexts. In a final chapter, he expands his discussion to the emerging field of black masculinity studies, pointing to future directions for study, including memoir, film, drama, and others. Poised on the brink of exciting new trends in scholarship, Racial Myths and Masculinity in African American Literature is a flagship work, enhancing the understanding of literary constructions of black masculinity and the larger cultural imperatives to which these writers are reacting.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
African American Literature Andrew autobiography battle royal Bessie Bigger Thomas Billy Billy's black male experience black male identity black masculinity black women Bradley's call-and-response Chaneysville Chaneysville Incident complex concerning construction of black context created cultural Dalton death desire Despite diary novel Ellison's narrator emasculation emotional encounter exploration Ezekiel father feminine fiction Frederick Douglass Grant Hawkins heterosexual homosexual human imagine intellectual interracial Invisible Man's John John Edgar Wideman John's Johnson Judith Lesson before Dying literary live Macon Milkman Minty Miss Emma Morrison's Moses Washington mother murder myth of black Native notion novel novelists O. J. Simpson offers Old Jack Oxherding Tale patriarchy Paul Paula political protagonist question race realizes relation relationship response reveals ritual sense slave narrative slavery social South Stepto's story struggle texts things tion tradition Uncle Josh understanding violence Vivian white women wife woman Wright young