Mutinous Muteness: Radicalizing Illegibility In Twentieth-Century African American Literature
Mutinous Muteness revisits W.E.B. Du Bois's idea of double-consciousness for its implications both as a theory of divided racialized experience and as a mostly unacknowledged critique of the presumed unity of its white counterpart. My project sets out to defamiliarize Du Bois and two of his more canonical heirs, Jean Toomer and Ralph Ellison, by offering a dialectical reading of their work in which representations of blackness can be seen to embed a fundamental critique of the "souls of white folk." Specifically, I contend that each of these writers differently displaces the central tenets of white supremacy-its invisibility as a norm, its presumed universality, and its exclusive place at the seat of aesthetic and philosophical judgment-through a use of their own techniques of illegibility. Demonstrating how these canonical literary figures play upon (and with) fundamental structures of Western thought, I suggest that their work not only elucidates techniques of racialization, but also reveals whiteness for the dark art that it is.
African American literature; critical theory
Attell,Kevin D.; Wong,Sunn Shelley; Braddock,Jeremy
English Language and Literature
Ph. D., English Language and Literature
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis