By Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman
In opposed to the Closet, Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman interrogates and demanding situations cultural theorists' interpretations of sexual transgression in African American literature. She argues that, from the mid-nineteenth century during the 20th, black writers used depictions of erotic transgression to contest well known theories of id, pathology, nationwide belonging, and racial distinction in American tradition. Connecting metaphors of sexual transgression to precise historic classes, Abdur-Rahman explains how tropes equivalent to sadomasochism and incest illuminated the psychodynamics of specific racial accidents and recommended varieties of social fix and political redress from the time of slavery, via post-Reconstruction and the civil rights and black energy activities, to the overdue 20th century. Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, serious race, and poststructuralist theories to endure on literary genres from slave narratives to technology fiction. examining works by way of African American writers, together with Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she indicates how literary representations of transgressive sexuality expressed the longings of African american citizens for person and collective freedom. Abdur-Rahman contends that these representations have been primary to the improvement of African American sorts of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.
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Additional resources for Against the Closet: Identity, Political Longing, and Black Figuration
What begins as an impassioned plea on behalf of African Americans whose lives and life chances have been shortchanged by racism becomes a treatise on the characterological and cultural maladaptation of African Americans in the related realms of sex, gender, reproduction, and familial organization. William Connolly describes identity formation among citizen-subjects: ‘‘identity is established in relation to a series of di√erences that have become socially recognized. These di√erences are essential to its being.
I turn now to Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, to examine an initial black literary rendering of the interrelation of race, rape, and identity under the regime of slavery. Douglass’s narrative has been widely regarded as the archetypal slave narrative, representing with the eloquent authority of an intelligent and deﬁant ex-slave the innumerable atrocities that characterized slave life as well as the journey slaves had to undertake on the path to freedom.
Moynihan predictably proceeds to explain that delayed gratiﬁcation is acquired in homes in which the father is present and functional, presumably by virtue of children’s subjection to operant paternal regulation. The implication here is that children bred in households headed by women will develop criminal propensities. Notably, Moynihan simply overlooks the sociopolitical and material factors that contribute to criminal behavior, emphasizing instead the misdirection and mismanagement of desire.