• Against the Closet: Black Political Longing and the Erotics of Race

    Author(s):
    Pages: 216
    Illustrations: 1 illustration
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $84.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5224-2
  • Paperback: $23.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5241-9
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • Acknowledgments ix

    Introduction. Against the Closet: Racial Identity and the Bodily Basis/Biases of Sexual Identity 1

    1. "The Strangest Freaks of Despotism": Queer Sexuality in Antebellum African American Slave Narratives 25

    2. Iconographies of Gang-Rape: Or, Black Enfranchisement, White Disavowel, and the (Homo)erotics of Lynching 51

    3. Desire and Treason in Mid-Twentieth-Century Political Protest Fiction 82

    4. Recovering the Little Black Girl: Incest and Black American Textuality 114

    Conclusion. In Memorium: Michael Jackson, 1958–2009 151

    Notes 157

    Works Cited 181

    Index 193
  • Against the Closet will benefit professors and ambitious undergraduate and graduate students of African American literature. With consistent theoretical acumen, Abdur-Rahman’s last three chapters likewise undermine dominant notions of modernity, normalcy, and belonging.”

    "Against the Closet offers a bold and timely exploration of black sexuality across the ages that is as firmly rooted in the history of African Americans as it is deft and innovative with close readings. . . . Speaking through and with the traditions of black feminist theory and queer theory, Against the Closet makes an indelible mark in its fields.”

    Against the Closet is a story worth reading and retelling, as it weaves a lively, original, and complex narrative about the progressions of race and sexuality in African American literature, unencumbered by one way of reading or thinking about the material. It is both an informative and instructive critique of its subject matter, one that should be essential reading for scholars of black sexuality in African American literature.”

    Against the Closet is no traditional literary study. But the ride it takes us on is bumpy only in the sense that it boggles the brain with fresh insights and inspired interpretations at every turn of the page. From an introduction that is even more a tour de force of cutting-edge critical theory than the Michael Jackson conclusion, through four chapters of deeply probing, richly textured, finely nuanced readings, Against the Closet challenges much of what has been thought and theorized about how sex and race mean not only in African American literature but also in American history.”

    “By adeptly using local and national newspapers, Mckiernan-González provides captivating accounts of local residents’ perspectives on and resistance to enforced measures. Fevered Measures joins Natalia Molina’s Fit to Be Citizens and Alexandra Stern’s  Eugenic Nation as essential studies of public health campaigns among Latinos. It deserves to be widely read by scholars of U.S. history, Latino studies, public health, and border studies.”

    “The critical frame offered in Against the Closet clearly has far ranging applications for the most current African American literary authors. As such, this important book may very well inspire further consideration of how sexual non-normativity can create a space for new modes of liberation and self-definition.”

    "Against the Closet is an important book that theorizes African American literature as a historiography of racialized sexuality, and it will inspire elaborations in the most generative directions."

    Reviews

  • Against the Closet will benefit professors and ambitious undergraduate and graduate students of African American literature. With consistent theoretical acumen, Abdur-Rahman’s last three chapters likewise undermine dominant notions of modernity, normalcy, and belonging.”

    "Against the Closet offers a bold and timely exploration of black sexuality across the ages that is as firmly rooted in the history of African Americans as it is deft and innovative with close readings. . . . Speaking through and with the traditions of black feminist theory and queer theory, Against the Closet makes an indelible mark in its fields.”

    Against the Closet is a story worth reading and retelling, as it weaves a lively, original, and complex narrative about the progressions of race and sexuality in African American literature, unencumbered by one way of reading or thinking about the material. It is both an informative and instructive critique of its subject matter, one that should be essential reading for scholars of black sexuality in African American literature.”

    Against the Closet is no traditional literary study. But the ride it takes us on is bumpy only in the sense that it boggles the brain with fresh insights and inspired interpretations at every turn of the page. From an introduction that is even more a tour de force of cutting-edge critical theory than the Michael Jackson conclusion, through four chapters of deeply probing, richly textured, finely nuanced readings, Against the Closet challenges much of what has been thought and theorized about how sex and race mean not only in African American literature but also in American history.”

    “By adeptly using local and national newspapers, Mckiernan-González provides captivating accounts of local residents’ perspectives on and resistance to enforced measures. Fevered Measures joins Natalia Molina’s Fit to Be Citizens and Alexandra Stern’s  Eugenic Nation as essential studies of public health campaigns among Latinos. It deserves to be widely read by scholars of U.S. history, Latino studies, public health, and border studies.”

    “The critical frame offered in Against the Closet clearly has far ranging applications for the most current African American literary authors. As such, this important book may very well inspire further consideration of how sexual non-normativity can create a space for new modes of liberation and self-definition.”

    "Against the Closet is an important book that theorizes African American literature as a historiography of racialized sexuality, and it will inspire elaborations in the most generative directions."

  • "Against the Closet is an important and much-needed book, a significant contribution to African American literature, cultural studies, sexuality studies, and critical race theory. Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman's close readings of fictional representations of race and sex are nuanced and illuminating, and the history of racial thought and sexual science that she presents is indispensable." — Maurice O. Wallace, author of, Constructing the Black Masculine

    "In this significant and timely text, Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman complicates and expands our understanding of the queerness of blackness, making a welcome contribution to black cultural studies, black queer studies, literary studies, and work on lynching and the making of post-slavery whiteness." — Christina Sharpe, author of, Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    In Against the Closet, Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman interrogates and challenges cultural theorists' interpretations of sexual transgression in African American literature. She argues that, from the mid-nineteenth century through the twentieth, black writers used depictions of erotic transgression to contest popular theories of identity, pathology, national belonging, and racial difference in American culture. Connecting metaphors of sexual transgression to specific historical periods, Abdur-Rahman explains how tropes such as sadomasochism and incest illuminated the psychodynamics of particular racial injuries and suggested forms of social repair and political redress from the time of slavery, through post-Reconstruction and the civil rights and black power movements, to the late twentieth century.

    Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, critical race, and poststructuralist theories to bear on literary genres from slave narratives to science fiction. Analyzing works by African American writers, including Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she shows how literary representations of transgressive sexuality expressed the longings of African Americans for individual and collective freedom. Abdur-Rahman contends that those representations were fundamental to the development of African American forms of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.

    About The Author(s)

    Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman is Assistant Professor of English at Brandeis University.

Explore More
Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu