English 203

Graduate Readings: Birth and Death in Neo-slave and Jim Crow Feminist Narratives

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2011 JanMohamed, Abdul R.
JanMohamed, Abdul
TTh 2-3:30 51 Evans

Other Readings and Media

Morrison, T.: Beloved; Walker, A.: Third Life of Grange Copeland; Butler, O.: Kindred; Jones, G.: Corregidora; Petry, A.: The Street; Larsen, N.: Quicksand and Passing; Williams, S. A.: Dessa Rose

Recommended: Butler, O.: Bloodchild and Other Stories; JanMohamed, A.: The Death-Bound-Subject.


Building on O. Patterson's notion of "social death" and my own definition of the "death-bound-subject," this course will examine black feminist (mostly neo-slave and Jim Crow) narratives that are concerned with the "birthing" of the death-bound-subject, with the aporetic predicament of the black (slave) mother whose "gift of life" can be immediately appropriated via the threat of death. Methodologically, we will approach these issues from Marxian, psychoanalytic, phenomenological, and feminist viewpoints. Theoretically, I am particularly interested in interrogating Marxian concepts such as "reproduction of the relations of production" and "primitive accumulation" from psychoanalytic and feminist viewpoints. These novels, however, are extremely rich and their articulation of the coercions and resistances that attend the slave maternal subject position can be read/critiqued from any number of vantage points.

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