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Cultural MelancholyReadings of Race, Impossible Mourning, and African American Ritual$
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Jermaine Singleton

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039621

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039621.001.0001

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The Melancholy That Is Not Her Own

The Melancholy That Is Not Her Own

The Evolution of the Blueswoman and the Consolidation of Whiteness

Chapter:
(p.27) 1 The Melancholy That Is Not Her Own
Source:
Cultural Melancholy
Author(s):

Jermaine Singleton

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252039621.003.0002

This chapter elaborates on the mutually constitutive nature of the blueswoman's grievances and those of a burgeoning normative social body rife with social loss. It argues that if the discourse of racial difference is underpinned by nationalist gender and sexual anxieties, then it makes sense to examine culturally sanctioned figurations of black female sexuality to better understand the psychic legacies of our unacknowledged past of racial segregation and its link to the persistence of racial inequality in our “postracial” moment. Through a close reading of literary and cultural representations of blueswomen, the chapter explores normative American nationhood's reticence about its historical and social construction even as the former absorbs the shock of its social loss and unresolved grief. This cultural field of symbiotic melancholic states provides a context for understanding the co-implication of the material and the psychical in the performance of gender, class, and sexual choices and associations that bolster and stand in for racial identifications discreetly.

Keywords:   blueswomen, black culture, racial difference, black female sexuality, racial segregation, inequality, American nationhood, social loss

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