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Title: Who's Laughing Now?: Black Affective Play and Formalist Innovation in Twenty-First Century Black Literary Satire
Authors: Edmonds, Brittney M.
Advisors: Brooks, Daphne A
Gleason, William
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Black Affect
Black Manhood
Black Satire
Contemporary Literature
Subjects: African American studies
American literature
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Who’s Laughing Now?: Black Affective Play and Formalist Innovation in Twenty-First Century Black Literary Satire offers a series of case studies to examine the literary historical provenance and the formal evolution of black satirical literature around the turn of the twenty-first century. Largely concerned with illuminating the methods by which black satire formally experiments with black perceptual and affective modes to explore, stage, and express black interior life, this study departs from extant scholarly literature in its strident de-emphasis of the formally political. This study begins with a historical and critical overview, providing a literary historical account of black literary satire and the critical frameworks commonly employed to explicate it. The first chapter takes as its central concern Percival Everett’s Erasure, demonstrating how Everett’s efforts to “exploit the form [of satire]” operates through the novel’s structural emplotment in black perceptual modes, namely black reflexivity. Mat Johnson’s Hunting in Harlem is the focus of the second chapter, and the dissertation examines the novel as a reimagining of the black urban novel, which was once hailed as the height of black literary ambition and achievement. In Johnson’s hands, the canonical form provides an occasion for reveling in black discursivity, Johnson intervening in debates about black nihilism and urban pathology while also challenging predominant models of black literary evolution and black language play. Johnson’s reliance on black commonplaces facilitates modes of reckoning that can hold the contradictions of black life in dynamic tension, rebuffing both narratives of unqualified triumph and narratives of unremitting degradation. The final chapter examines Paul Beatty’s Slumberland in relation to dominant field approaches to thinking about history in contemporary African American literature and criticism. This chapter additionally meditates on the ephemeral quality of black comic labor and theorizes black comic labor through modalities of black performance. Together these case studies elaborate black literary satire as a formal way of giving expression to black affect and to black sensibilities, as a way of philosophically encountering blackness in order to play with its discursive, perceptual, and affective disruptions.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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