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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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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Queering Celie’s Same-Sex Desire

Queering Celie’s Same-Sex Desire

Impossible Mourning, Trauma, and Heterosexual Failure in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

(p.83) 4 Queering Celie’s Same-Sex Desire
Cultural Melancholy

Jermaine Singleton

University of Illinois Press

This chapter places psychoanalytic theories of melancholia in conversation with Walker's The Color Purple to show how “deviant” desire is engendered within and maintained by racialized subject-formations, as they are conceived and regulated by the ongoing process of racialization and gender order that guarantees the reproduction of the white heteropatriarchal familial structure that attends a melancholic, normative American nationhood. It explores the transformative possibilities theories of melancholia carry for the intervention into and the interpretation of received fictions of race and sexuality. A rereading of The Color Purple through the psychoanalytic paradigm of melancholia aims to not only depolarize sexual and racial distinctions within the reductive gazes of psychoanalysis and race studies, but also integrates racial difference into the project of queer studies by casting them as mutually constitutive dimensions of the process of subject formation within the broader context of the unconscious processes that attend racialization.

Keywords:   melancholia, Alice Walker, The Color Purple, desire, subject formation, racialization, gender order, American nationhood, sexuality, queer studies

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