Black Subjects: Identity Formation in the Contemporary Narrative of Slavery (Paperback)Arlene R. Keizer (author)
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Writers as diverse as Carolivia Herron, Charles Johnson, Paule Marshall, Toni Morrison, and Derek Walcott have addressed the history of slavery in their literary works. In this groundbreaking new book, Arlene R. Keizer contends that these writers theorize the nature and formation of the black subject and engage established theories of subjectivity in their fiction and drama by using slave characters and the condition of slavery as focal points.
In this book, Keizer examines theories derived from fictional works in light of more established theories of subject formation, such as psychoanalysis, Althusserian interpellation, performance theory, and theories about the formation of postmodern subjects under late capitalism.
Black Subjects shows how African American and Caribbean writers' theories of identity formation, which arise from the varieties of black experience re-imagined in fiction, force a reconsideration of the conceptual bases of established theories of subjectivity. The striking connections Keizer draws between these two bodies of theory contribute significantly to African American and Caribbean Studies, literary theory, and critical race and ethnic studies.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 340 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
"Black Subjects is one of the most illuminating and suggestive explorations of contemporary narratives of slavery to date. From among the myriad themes and occupations of the genre, Keizer identifies a common and compelling narrative drive: to imagine the vexed relation between slavery and subjectivity. Ranging gracefully over texts throughout the African diaspora, she offers a model example of thinking in the round-not only about slavery and subjectivity, but also about the forms, the modes, the missions of critical theory."-- Deborah McDowell, University of Virginia
"Black Subjects offers an extended analysis and meditation on narratives of slavery in a significant portion of the African Diaspora. It concerns itself with memory-indeed, postmemory-and theories of subject formation, most of them postmodern and postcolonial in origin. It is about the legacy of slavery rather than slavery itself. Its topic is literature, fictive narratives of slavery by contemporary writers from throughout the post-civil rights and post-colonial English speaking African Diaspora. Black Subjects demonstrates how much is missed when history shuns or shies away from the aesthetic dimension of the past. The work of identity formation that Keizer so skillfully uncovers and interrogates in the works she analyzes (so perceptively and so passionately) is the thing most glaringly missing from even our most recent and most substantial histories of slavery in America-the black subject, as distinct from black agents."-- Arna Alexander Bontemps, Department of African American Studies, Arizona State University
"Black Subjects: Identity Formation in the Contemporary Narrative of Slavery is a superb analysis of contemporary narratives of slavery from the United States and the Anglophone Caribbean. Arlene R. Keizer argues that these fictions theorize the nature and formation of black subjectivity. Juxtaposing these 'fictionalized' theories with mainstream theories of subjectivity, Keizer decisively shifts the conversation between black literature and the dominant theoretical discourses in the humanities. Persuasively argued and elegantly written, Black Subjects is a work of creative insight and critical imagination."-- Valerie Smith, Princeton University
"By focusing her attention on the ways that contemporary black writers from the United States and the Caribbean represent slavery and its continuing legacy, Arlene R. Keizer broadens our understanding across boundaries between nations and between canonical and non-canonical writers. In a deftly rendered series of readings, she sheds light on new ways of theorizing issues of power, race, identity, and knowledge."-- Farah Jasmine Griffin, author of Who Set You Flowin'?: The African American Migration Narrative
"This is no doubt one of the best books on contemporary African diaspora narratives of slavery. In a most eloquent mixture of persuasive close readings and theoretical subtlety, Arlene R. Keizer examines not just why many African diaspora writers haunt slavery as the primal scene in the refashioning of African diasporan subjectivity, but also how they do that in enabling, liberating, and even contradictory-but always unfailingly and suggestively complex-ways. A terrific achievement."-- Tejumola Olaniyan, author of Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance
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