Cultural MelancholyReadings of Race, Impossible Mourning, and African American Ritual

Cultural MelancholyReadings of Race, Impossible Mourning, and African American Ritual

Jermaine Singleton

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780252039621

Publisher: University of Illinois Press

Abstract

A daring cultural and literary studies investigation, this book explores the legacy of unresolved grief produced by ongoing racial oppression and resistance in the United States. Using analysis of literature, drama, musical performance, and film, the book demonstrates how rituals of racialization and resistance transfer and transform grief discreetly across time, consolidating racial identities and communities along the way. It also argues that this form of impossible mourning binds racialized identities across time and social space by way of cultural resistance efforts. The book develops the concept of “cultural melancholy” as a critical response to scholarship that calls for the clinical separation of critical race studies and psychoanalysis; excludes queer theoretical approaches from readings of African American literatures and cultures; and overlooks the status of racialized performance culture as a site of serious academic inquiry and theorization. In doing so, the book weaves critical race studies, psychoanalysis, queer theory, and performance studies into conversation to uncover a host of hidden dialogues—psychic and social, personal and political, individual and collective—for the purpose of promoting a culture of racial grieving, critical race consciousness, and collective agency.